During the premiere of single Free – movie which depicts the unusual feat of Honnold, who managed to climb El Capitan, a 900 meters high granite wall Cordless – I escabullo the seat and treatment of find the protagonists of the evening: Conrad Anker, the legendary climber reached the Summit of Meru and found the body of George Mallory on Mount Everest, and Alex Honnold, who arrived from surprise to present his film and that, after being surrounded by dozens of fans with their helmets in their hands to be autographed, disappeared from view.
In a corner, away from the public, Anker and Honnold whispering and stare at me with surprise. “You’re missing the film”, brings me in face Honnold, whose voice is also heard from the speakers. Jennifer Lowe – spouse of Conrad – is also on the table and it is she who invites me to take a seat. “I still have in my head images of the expedition that Anker and Honnold shared in Antarctica – exhibited at the Santiago Mountain Film Festival, sponsored by North Face – where proposed climbing 15 summits in 17 days in Queen Maud Land. The scenario – remote, freezing cold and hostile to human life – remember the pages of Endurance, the famous book by journalist Alfred Lansing that tells the story of survival of Ernest Shackleton, on the same continent where Conrad and Alex made ascents frantic with below-freezing temperatures.
The North Face Antarctica Expedition 2017 you ever thought in Shackleton when were you there? “, they ask. Alex comes and, laughing, says Conrad, as well as the legendary Irish Explorer, was a fierce captain, which kept them alive. Then it is the table in silence because perhaps sensed that is a subject that his climbing companion was taken seriously. Conrad, “the story of Shackleton me keep it in the Pocket, in my heart”, begins with an intense voice that rumbles and having something of Clint Eastwood.
“He led his men by example, that is good in its history. He worked hard with his men, did not believe in that kind of hierarchy. If ever you think that things are not well, you can think of Shackleton, because it was 17 months! “They had no radio, they had no communication, nothing”, said the climber who two years ago survived a heart attack more than 6 thousand meters of altitude, in the complicated Lunag Ri (6 907 m) peak in Nepal.
There’s a moment very fun in the documentary – I say-… you are with Jimmy Chin armando camp in a cool place and background is heard Neil Young Old Man. But you feel like an old man at all! “I don’t know. Think of Alex, I am much older, but he admires me because I’m still pushing boundaries. I’d like to have gone to the Lunag Ri again, but wasn’t, and finally David Lama made top solo made 6 weeks ago, so there is a good story there. I like to climb granite towers. I enjoy it”, he said.
In 1999, Conrad found the body of Mallory, who died on Everest in 1924 after a lifetime of dreams and obsession with being the first man to reach the Summit. Later Anker returned to the highest mountain in the world and tried to upload it to the same route of Mallory and with the same type of equipment of those years. The goal: emulate the conditions in which climbed Mallory and discover if it was perhaps possible that the climber has succeeded in passing the “second step”. Finally, Conrad managed to overcome the obstacle and The Wildest Dream documentary suggests that it was Mallory and not Edmund Hillary who first reached the Summit.
-In the documentary never say it explicitly, but it gives the impression that you think that George Mallory was who conquered the Summit of Everest for the first time.
-The film says that, but personally I don’t think so. The movie leaves it open, i.e. raises the question, but I think there is no way what have achieved you, there is no way you have uploaded up to above. Mallory did not manage it. The second step is difficult, even with the team and they didn’t have that team in 1924 and they also scaled to that level.
Meru Expedition, Healy, India when Conrad climbed Everest without oxygen, revealed that medical tests that made him threw his physical state corresponded to that of a man of half his age. However, the man his friends called “El Capitán” acknowledged that he had demanded too much, and that his heart had weakened, which perhaps explains his recent heart attack. Now, with 56 years on his body and countless peaks and nights of cold and suffering, it is healthy and energetic. It is slim, almost as much as Honnold. He speaks slowly, look at the eyes and strives to be as cordial as possible. It is his philosophy of life, after all: “Be nice, be good, be happy,” explained.
-Have you ever climbed a mountain in Chile?
-I was in cerro El Plomo, I reached the top. I you need to climb Aconcagua, because I have to do the seven summits.
-What would you say is the best memory you have as a climber?
-Many memories are special, in Meru, eg… The point is that if you experience the hard work, you understand the sublimity and beauty of life, but at the same time, can you not much experience this homely joy, that sometimes comes simply thanks to sitting doing nothing. My philosophy is that push as a human being and that is the message that the climbing delivery people.
-Speaking of Meru, do you prepare mentally for something of that magnitude?
-I understand the route, I know where it is. And, from a historical point of view, you understand where you have been in the past and where you can go to the future; that sums it up.
-What felt stepped on a crest which none had walked before?
-Number one: not the top floor, I put my body or my foot at the top, that is the Buddhist and nepali tradition. If your eyes are on the top you can touch it, but you don’t want to sit in it. The sherpas do that and it is something that I have adopted. On the other hand, to be where no one else has ever been is something that makes you to be humble.
It is not clear whether Conrad will continue to pursue risky peaks. Meru was, in his own words, “the culmination of everything I’ve done as a climber” and, however, later embarked on an expedition of similar difficulties, again pushing his limits. “I always asked myself when I went to get the message that it is time to release this game, and I think that I already received that message,” he said. That was while he was lying on the snow, after suffering a heart attack, before the astonished eyes of his partner’s rope, David Lama.
The North Face Antarctica Expedition 2017 also weighs on his shoulders the fact that Alex Lowe, his best friend and at the same time one of the leading American mountaineers in the 1990s, died on the South side of the Sisha Pangma, after being swept by an avalanche of 150 meters from which he emerged miraculously alive. Later, Anker was married to the spouse of Lowe (Jennifer) and adopted her children. Since then, has tried to balance both aspects of his life (passion for climbing and his responsibilities as a father and spouse) and tries to explain to their children that, according to him, “it is safe to climb Everest”.
-65 years ago Everest even had been scaled and, now, climbers beginners can do it with the help of experienced climbers. How do you see this mountain in 200 years more?
-Over 200 years more, well, I hope there is still ice there! Climate change is a major challenge for all and unfortunately, our Government in the United States. UU is not being a leader at that.
-Donald Trump left the Paris agreement-Trump is an absolute idiot. Perhaps it should say idiot, I believe that appropriate is to say that it is not suitable for the post. We don’t have a democracy in the United States and that is our challenge. We need to pay attention to energy issues, climate change. Think the following: we are leaders, we went to the Moon, i.e. we have technological capability, but having a leader who goes against that is problematic.
-How are you define politically?
-What I can tell you is this: conservatism and the nacioalismo will not help our society.
When he reviewed his expeditions, used some words in Spanish: work, cold, dangerous, wind, bad food, benzine. Don’t know much more, and as a gentleman apologizes for English – speaking “forgive my English is very bad”.
In 2002, a walk that made with your spouse to the Everest base camp, had an idea: teach techniques of mountaineering and climbing to the sherpas who, year after year, risking their lives to bring customers to the roof of the world. “The idea was to do it with a spirit of fun and cooperation,” he explained. Thus was born the Khumbu Climbing Center, whose workouts focus on climbing ability. They used the waterfalls of ice to practise with the students, who had very little preparation. “We teach how to care for the wounded, how to diagnose wounds;” We also teach geology, glaciology, flora and fauna, with the aim of being best guides”, counted.
-What do you think of the fact that the sherpas remain who crossed over and over again the icefall on Everest, where they usually die?
-That is, indeed, the most dangerous segment. It is more likely that a sherpa dies there because they must pass many times, so to train them in similar cascades of ice, we can minimize the risk.
Hear the voice of the public, probably in celebration of the escalation of Alex. I take ask what thinks of only Free and smiles as wanting to express that there are no words to describe an escalation of that caliber. “It’s great”, he merely said. “The day before Alex to scale El Capitan, I called him on the phone and good, it was not going to say something so stupid like ‘be careful’, since he knows it better anyone else”, he added.
The North Face Antarctica Expedition 2017 before dismissing me ask you what feels when reached a summit which has dreamed about for years. Respond me that it is a moment of respect, humility: “For me it is find a way of understanding our place in the cosmos, how insignificant we are”.
Then, in the distance, tells me to wait a little and asked me if there is any place where to recycle their glass bottle. “If we don’t take care of our planet, there is no other place where to go”, said.