All of us has been vibrating with the images of alpinists as Ueli Steck, Steve House, Mark Twight, Jean Cristophe Lafaille, Cristophe Proffit and many more who with them images and books has been inspiring us. I will not talk about this heroes, I will talk about other heroes, who nobody knows if you don’t meet them on a route, on a race or a mountain.
End of November 2013 on the Pyrenees, not many snow on the mountains as normal, but enough to take out the skis (and skins) to go up on down in between the rocks. Young racers are excited to show how the autumn training was good, and far away from the important races of the season are warming up as on the world championships on the first vertical races during the Saturday’s night. But not only young are here. 6 hours ago start to drive from Madrid, 8 h of distance from here a 50 years old informatics engineer. He don’t remembers how many seasons he has been traveling to do races all around Spain and the alps, but on the start line he is (almost) more excited that all the juniors and espoirs. Pum! Start and his skis start to glide up, his lambs to take all the cold air from freezing winter nights and his mind focusing on keeping the pace. He finish exhausted, as all the other racers, and in front of many “youngers”, in fact, is not many racers in front of him excepting the professionals and semi-professionals. Not long time ago he was on the Spanish team of ski mountaineering, participating on World Cups.
Middle august 2013, just a few days before I did one of my biggest goals ever, I was on Cervinia, Italy, coming back on the afternoon to the car after one of the last trainings on Matterhorn, I saw a Spanish van park on side of mine. A familiar voice is inside. His round face with a 2 days beard and round glasses appears on the door. Him and his girlfriend Marta are in vacations on the Alps to do some easy trekking’s and some rock climbing, tomorrow they will leave to Madrid. We’re talking and his eyes cannot look on Marta or me but they’re fixed on the mountain back of us, his eyes shine as a kid with a new toy. He ask me about the conditions.
The day after I wake up and I saw Marta on the van. On the afternoon, he was going to buy a speedcross running shoes and early this morning he was running up. Some hours after he arrives with a half smile of embarrassment, like a child who has ben doing something hidden from his parents.
“Going up I was feeling well, I reach the summit on 3h, after down it was hard, I’m getting old…”
June 2004 he is in the K2, in a expedition with a famous alpinist and other Madrid climbers, after a month preparing the route and fixing ropes is finally the good day to attempt the summit. Is the 3th year he is here with Carlos, the year before, waiting for a window on K2 he has been climbing Broad Peak on 2 days and in 1990 he was on Nanga Parbat, a few meters from the summit he feel a pain on the chest, thinking it was an edema he turn around, realizing after that it was a brake rib. He has his opportunity to climb K2, a mountain that in alpinism minds a lot. Weather will be great, conditions are safe and is rope fixed the way up. The expedition is ready to attack. He says to Carlos:
“Carlos, now is all ready, you will not need me anymore right? I will not go up, I has coming here to do alpinism” and during all his friends has been reaching the summit of K2 he was climbing alone on Cesen route, forgotten the summit.
Some weeks after, back on Madrid, he was climbing a 8a+ in La Pedriza.
People who knows him thinks he is a competitor (he has been doing thousands of races, including many world cups, many Pierra Mentas…). Climbers don’t consider on of them, but he has been climbing many big walls as The Nose, Salathé, North American Wall, Half Dome… Alpinists don’t consider one of them, but he has been climbing in solo Peuterey on winter, North face of Eiger, Jorasses, Freney… and many more we don’t know, because Jorge Palacio “Palas” he will be as motivated and excited to do a small vertical race on December, a Pierra Menta on March, a Big summit on June, a North face on October and a climbing route on November, going back home happy as a child with a new toy. And if you was not there to see him, nobody will know.
Categories: Kilian Jornet