I´m a little too old to be having idols, or maybe what some people would call heroes, or maybe I´m not. But on my recent incursion into the surfing world, and add to that my current incursion into the Basque Country, I´ve came across this curious type which has got one of the most latent exploratory vibes I´ve seen in any athlete since I don´t know when.
Ladies and gentleman, I present you crazy nomadic basque dude, Kepa Acero.
Kepa is a prominent freesurfer (a professional surfer that does not participate in competitions) from Europe, more specifically from the Bilbao area, that is, the Cantabric coast. Now, aside from being Basque – which automatically means having a hard shell and being overall tough asses – the Cantabric coast is a rugged one, with agressive if not violent waves of impressive power that brake over cliffs just as impressive. Rocks poke out on several surf spots, it is cold, it rains a lot, and still, people surf there, all year long. On my first visit to San Sebastian (Donostia in Euskera, which is basque language), waves were in decent condition but I just couldn´t grow the balls to get in that cold water with the same 3 mm wetsuit I´d used in the Peruvian winter. These people are tough.
I don´t this guy personally but being basque he´s probably all that I described above. On the other hand, I know some basque people, and when you do get to know them, they can be the sweetest, warmest, friendliest people ever. But that´s if you brake their shell, which is in 99% of the times, an impossible task.
An exploratory vein, alongside passion for his sport, a desire to go beyond what and where everyone else is going, going at it alone, and doing it for the sake of doing it instead of the sake of selling it. All these things are what I appreciate in alpinists today, even though I understand the purpose of filming and photographing in order to make it possible to be climbing/surfing. I didn´t really like the surfing community I experienced in Bali, as it was in a completely different end of what I imagined. But then this guy made me realize that as in alpinism, there´s different types of crowds, and one does not account for all.
Well, Kepa has a website and a YouTube channel with some precious videos that attest to his adventurous and humble spirit, living simply and with little to no resources, while seeking what may not be the most famous, but perhaps some of the most interesting waves in the planet. And curiously enough, he seems to have quite a few alpinists as idols, such as Messner and Iñaki Ochoa de Oza. And he writes quite well too, hitting “close to home”:
“Siempre siento como algo así en esta època dentro de mi, como un pequeño cortocircuito. Cuando empecè con estos viajes en solitario tenìa 29 años. Me encontraba otros mochileros de mas o menos mi edad. Ahora, cuando me cruzo con mochileros, les saco un cacho grande de edad, sabes?Soy el veterano,se pincha una rueda y me miran a mi,soy mayor, tengo la solución.
Soy mayor. La mayoría de la gente de mi edad no tiene ya el Peter Pan este.Yo sigo soñando en tubos.”
Bellow are some of my favorite videos from him.
How not to like this guy?!?!