What most people don't know about me
For some years I was competing in Artistic Roller Skating
When and how did you get into climbing and what kept you interested / fascinated in the sport?
I started climbing when I was 23 years old, but as soon as I had my first contact with the rock, I realized that climbing would be something very important in my life. Since then, 24 years have passed in which I have climbed non-stop and traveled to almost 60 countries and I am still motivated like the first day. Before climbing I did several sports, but climbing is until now the one that makes me happy and motivates me. Climbing is so mentally and physically demanding that I often can't sleep thinking about where I will be on my next trip or if I will manage to complete a crux of a project the next day.
Who was your childhood hero and do you consider yourself a role model now? Does it influence you at all that other people look up to you?
When I first started climbing, I fell in love with Lynn Hill. I remember dreaming of climbing the Nose. She was the first female climber to free climb that amazing route. I don't consider myself a role model for anyone, but as a climbing guide, when I teach some climbers and they are very curious and ask me about my trips and my life, I feel that they really have a similar way as I did with Lynn Hill and that's a nice feeling, because I really enjoy my life. But life would not be the same without great people like my wife Lidia and my little daughter Zion to share these experiences with.
What were the most important milestones in your life so far, both in climbing and in everyday life? Did you immediately recognize them as such or only later on?
In the last 20 years I have done almost all the big walls I aimed for, and every year I get a little stronger in sports climbing as well, but I would say that my milestone is to finish every day happy and never get angry if I don't manage to do something. Whether it's a route or something that happens in my personal life. When I'm climbing, I like to remember how hard it was for me to climb when I was a beginner and how often I felt devastated at the end of a day's climbing. It's nice to remember years ago and compare it to today. I think that you can only improve if you stay constant and enjoy what you are doing.
What were your greatest failures / setbacks / injuries? How did you cope with them and how did you come back from them?
I was on a long climbing trip, climbing alone every day and feeling very strong :), one day when I was climbing an A5 pitch solo style, I heard a noise and suddenly I felt that everything was over. I fell hard, the last hook I had clipped broke, and then all the pieces of gear hanging on the rock came loose ....
I was on the first pitch of a multi-pitch route, and if no part of the equipment held, I would be left on the ground. Fortunately, a black alien and a tiny piton that I connected with a small lanyard stopped me 10 cm above the ground. The unfortunate part is that when I fell, I hit my chest on a roof and broke 7 ribs. I drove myself to the hospital and after a few hours I thought I wouldn't climb again, because my back was pretty badly injured. I was in a lot of pain for a few months and my ex-wife had to help me get dressed and I could barely walk, but then I went to see David Ponce, a back specialist, who fixed me up pretty good after a few sessions. During that time I thought a lot about how many important things there are in life that have nothing to do with climbing. I thought I would never walk again or live a normal life, so climbing wasn't that important for a while.
On another trip, while climbing Riders on the Storm in the central tower of Torres del Paine, I fell and broke my leg. I was so motivated that I told my friends that it was just a sprain and that I could still climb up the fixed ropes if they wanted to keep climbing. We had 7 days of horrible weather, so I stayed on the Porta-Sims for a week with a broken leg. On the way down I rappelled the wall, crossed the glacier on my hump and then walked for 15 hours to the hut. It's amazing how strong the human body can be....
The next day I took a horse, then 2 buses and went to the hospital to get some screws on my leg as a souvenir from Patagonia.
What is your favorite climbing related story / experience?
While climbing a 500 meters mixed route (free and aid ) I a rope solo , I was in the middle of a pitch 250 meters from the ground and I placed a Blue Black Diamond cam. When I went to grab the rope for clipping a realized that, shit I did not have a rope...
In a moment I passed of a being in an amazing place enjoying tranquility an peace to be in and a very bad situation. I lost my rope because these pitch was very vertical and the rope was pulling down inside my bag by it's own weight. I was climbing with my rope inside my back pack in my back and I was sure that I did a knot at the end of the rope to avoid these situation but, wherever these didn't matter anymore. I was there in the middle of a scary pitch with poor rock and not to many options to do. I keep climbing no ropes for 12 meters and then I clipped my self to a couple of pitons.
Was cold, nobody new that I was there and I did not have a rope...
Lucky me before I start trying to climb down I hear some people near to the base of the wall and I could tell them my funny situation.
That was many years ago and rescue teams where not as professional as they are now I guess. I had to wait for 23 hours hanging on the wall, being very , very cold, without warm cloths, water, food or the most important part ,my rope...