Like I said in the first dispatch, I had no big plans or expectations for this season. Although I felt I could finally do the hardest climbs I always wanted to do – that feeling of being ready – I wasn´t willing to compromise on safety or poor partnerships. And although I thought I scanned people well, I obviously didn´t. In 2014 all but one of my partners were amazing, and although failing on some mountains, the processes of climbing was always awesome. We learned from each other, supported each other, and there was always a lot of respect (and silliness, laughing and just general fun).
This season unfortunately wasn´t the same, and although I knew I´d be “taking people up”, I wasn´t going to compromise on certain things, like said above. I tolerated being mistreated and screamed at, more than a few times, but instead on trying to go on, “because people get nervous on mountains” like one of the former partners said, I chose not to continue the partnerships. I´ve had to deal with too much ego in the past year to have people ruin my days in the mountains. I´ve had it with people abusing me, my willingness to help, and my patience.
My best friend in Chamonix used to tell me I need to verbalize to people when something bothers me. Maybe I do, but I have a very non confrontational type of personality, and I hate useless argument and fighting. And again, I get disappointed on myself when I get back to Huaraz and a few close local friends tell me things such as “I knew this partnership/person wasn´t going to work”: I feel like I´m still too nice and permitting with some partners, and end up taken advantage of. But fact is, we are all adults and by now should know how and how not to treat people. I´m nobody´s mom to be telling them how to behave.
If you climb with someone more experienced and treat them like a client, you will not make a friend. If you climb with someone as strong as you but treat them like shit, you will not make a friend. If you treat people like shit in general, you cannot be a good person.
Further still, being a good climber/alpinist also means being a good team worker, respectful, and level headed. If I was climbing easy stuff I could have higher tolerance for when people “get nervous”, but since I climb harder routes than that and wanted to get on even harder and more serious and committing stuff, I did not have the time and those are not the places for fixing personality issues on tense situations. I made the decision not to climb rather than to climb with people that could eventually turn a climb onto a sour experience.
I´ve got excellent crisis management skills, but after taking so many people climbing this year and having to deal with ungrateful and risky attitudes and behaviors, I simply wasn´t in the mood for unpreparedness and rudeness. If a real friend wants to go climbing, I will happily take them. But I will now take a break of playing Mother Teresa and giving unknowns the amazing opportunity of being in the mountains. I worked hard to be at the level I am, and although I love sharing the mountains and the experiences it provides, doing so with just anyone is wasting all I worked hard for.
A lesson that has also consolidated but that is obvious to many, is that climbing and its niches are very different. Some people like to romanticize and say climbing is all the same and climbers are all the same. We are not. The same way I don´t like when commercial expedition climbers are put in the same sack as I, I cannot compare myself to 9c sport climbers. Lesson learned here as well is that the stereotype of commercial expedition climber has proved correct and that is a type of climber I will never climb again with, because again and again, these people climb for showing off, and what they report of what happened in the mountains is either exaggerated or lacking truth.
See, I don´t lie about my experience, my successes, my failures. It´s all documented on this page with as much detail as I have energy to write. I don´t lie about the grade I climb on rock, the routes I finished, the ones I didn´t. I have nothing to hide. If I don´t feel like going – be it laziness, lack of capacity of any kind, lack of money or time, I don´t, and I am clear about it. If I don´t feel safe, I don´t go on. I started climbing late and have only 4-5 years of alpine climbing but I´ve seen enough shit, did enough volume and watched more experienced people enough to learn about my limits as leader or follower, and now to learn about the limits of my patience and naivité. I don´t hide behind an image of what I am not.
Independent climbing is not marketing, it is achievements: either you can do it and have the curriculum to prove it, or you can´t. I expect to climb with people with similar values and ethics, and those you only learn by handling the mountains yourself.
Unfortunately one of my partners this season didn´t take well one of my reports, and decided to slander me on Facebook. After many contradictory arguments and absurd messages like the one bellow from him, and several support messages even from people I never met, I decided to address the event and give voice to a collective feeling. I have a clear conscience about it all – to him what I wrote was fiction and to me truth from what I experienced (even though I omitted several graver things I´ve noticed about this specific person because they had nothing to do with climbing). I guess this needs to be out in the open, and this goes for every commercial expedition climber or person who thinks they´re climbers or mountaineers just because they can afford an army of servants to put them in a summit.
If you climb for sponsors or for fame, you are doing it for the wrong reasons, and for you people´s opinions and your image are more important than capacity and ability, sometimes even than results. It is the total opposite of what climbing is. Me, I couldn´t care less what other people think. First, because I am a real climber. Second, because if I need an opinion I can get one from truly accomplished climbers whom I´ve met these past 4 to 5 years, who would identify immediately with the style of climbing that I do.
But commercial expedition climbers with their shiny brand new equipment but who cannot even tie an eight knot themselves, or who´ve been to several high camps but never really summitted, or who can´t even tell between different snow conditions and will just nod to whatever a guide or sherpa will say… really… how relevant is the opinion of someone like that? People who don´t make the smallest effort to learn anything about proper climbing, and many times about the country they are going to? Who mistreat locals just because they are trying to make a living, as annoying as it can be?
I´ll give here my real climber, not politically correct, often thought-of-by-many-but-said-by-none opinion. This type of expedition climber is pathetic, and these people are not real climbers. These are the laughing stock of the climbing community, and it disgusts us to even have to call these tourists “climbers”. These are rich people with illusions of grandeur doing in the mountains what they´ve always done in the real world: faking success at the expense of other people´s hard work. And again, this is exactly what happened in Alpamayo this year. So, it´s my page, I pay for hosting, I write whatever I want, with my overtly sincere personality. Novels are the stories full of gaps and missing facts these people tell when they go home to fool audiences and sell self help books. Novel is when you go to a high camp and don´t even leave your tent to climb but then tell it to people as if you had tried. Mine are trip reports. You may fool lay people, but you don´t fool real climbers. Chapter closed.
These are rich people with illusions of grandeur doing in the mountains what they´ve always done in the real world: faking success at the expense of other people´s hard work.