Around this time of last year, I was avidly searching for news of a brazilian climber that went missing on Aconcagua. I didn´t know him in person, but we had created a virtual acknowledgment of each other since he tried to buy a down jacket from me in a Facebook classified community we were both part of. That was late 2012, and after much convincing he understood it´d be too big on him and accepted my refusal. He did cheer on whenever someone asked about it, and when I eventually sold it. It was a men´s Ama Dablam by Marmot, just in case.
Months later I would realize he was the one missing in the Sentinela de Piedra. His body eventually was found. Apparently he ascended by himself after his partners gave up already above 6000 m, and on the way back from the summit got lost in a whiteout and fell. He left a wife and a daughter.
Today I went through the same feelings again. On sunday I logged on to the Desnivel website just to see what was news and read a piece about a tragic weekend with 5 dead in some spanish mountains. I read people´s names and one sounded familiar, but it was such a common name there that I figured it couldn´t be someone I know.
The news kept coming on my Facebook timeline though, always with Luis Gonzalo tagged. So this morning I thought something was way too strange and that this Luis Gonzalo from the news couldn´t be the Luiz Gonzalo I met. But it was.
I met Luis Gonzalo while climbing Elektra, a classic trad line in Ana Chata mountain, in the São Bento do Sapucaí region here in Brazil. I was climbing with two other friends and he was coming fast behind us with a partner. We were lucky to be tied to a tree in a spacious plateau that allowed us for a nice chat, in which among other things, Gonzalo said that alpinism was his favorite type of climbing. Upon telling him I was about to leave for the Cordillera Blanca in a month or so he fondly remembered leading the crossing of the schrund in Alpamayo, which left both his feet dangling in the air. We conversed for about 10 minutes or so and then let them pass us, until we met on the summit again.
What striked me most about Luis Gonzalo was his ever present smile. Apparently, it was stroke everyone sending condolences on his Facebook page today. In the short moments we had together, he was always smiling and cheerful. Makes me question why is it that it is always those people that go so soon. It makes me feel very empty, even though I know he lived his life to its fullest and was an example to follow. It is just too hard to accept that that huge smile simply is no more. But such is life, and such is alpinism.
It has been in my plans to climb in Spain, and I always thought I´d get in touch with him. It´s not a possibility anymore, but it relieves me to know he was doing what he himself said was his favorite type of climb. Rest in peace, amigo.