Reflexión #1 Por qué comparto mis experiencias en redes sociales y el blog

Desde hace casi 9 años he ido compartiendo públicamente las expediciones de escalada, viajes de navegación, vuelos y demás aventuras que he tenido la fortuna de vivir. La intención de abrir una ventana a mi vida nunca ha sido con el objeto de vanagloriarme o de cualquier manera alardear de lo que he logrado. Al ser todas ella experiencias y metas personales, la satisfacción también es personal y ajena a cualquier reconocimiento de terceros. También, quienes me conocen estarán de acuerdo cuando digo que soy una persona muy reservada y lo opuesto a una personalidad histriónica. Entonces, ¿por qué publicar en redes sociales y en un blog estas experiencias personales? La respuesta es simple pero hace falta hacer un poco de historia.

Aterrizaje en El Peñon, Temascaltepec, México

Llevo 23 años escalando montañas y 13 de ellos han sido expediciones al extranjero. Muchas han sido a lugares verdaderamente remotos. Lugares de los que se leen en los viejos libros de aventuras y exploradores, lugares que generan curiosidad e interés. Por eso no es extraño que al regresar de una expedición a África o a Papua Nueva Guinea los amigos y familia con los que me encontraban quisieran que les platicara sobre mis experiencias. Lo hacía con mucho gusto. En 2008, aprovechando la tecnología disponible, tuve la idea de escribir un blog durante la expedición al Everest y Lhotse. De esa manera, en vez de que al regresar a casa tuviera que repetir la misma historia decenas de veces, mi familia y amigos podían ir viviendo esta expedición conmigo día a día. Las conversaciones que tenía con ellos a mi regreso eran pláticas como las que tendría con un compañero de la expedición. Como si hubieran estado ahí. 

El compartir las aventuras a través del blog y redes sociales tuvo una consecuencia positiva. Al ser una página pública, mucha gente a la que no conocía podía leer sobre mis experiencias y esto las motivaba a tratar de vivir las suyas. Pienso que muchas veces lo que más cuesta para iniciar un proyecto personal que todavía es un sueño o un deseo, es dar el primer paso para iniciar a planearlo y a ejecutarlo. Y fueron muchas las personas que se pusieron en contacto conmigo para comentarme que gracias a lo que habían leído de mis proyectos se habían animado por fin a dar el primer paso para hacer el viaje o vivir la experiencia que siempre habían deseado. Se convirtió en un círculo virtuoso. Entre más compartía, más comentarios recibía de gente viviendo grandes experiencias personales. 

Aprecio mucho el poder vivir en una época en la que la tecnología nos permite estar conectados, y en contacto tanto con gente cercana como con desconocidos. Pero sobre todo aprecio la oportunidad de poder abrir esta ventana a mis experiencias. Y, si sientes que en algo puedo mejorar, los comentarios constructivos siempre son bienvenidos. 

La cima del Everest, con sus banderas con oraciones Budistas

Afterthought to X-Pyr 2016

It’s been two weeks since the official end of X-Pyr 2016. My personal experience as participant in this amazing race was too short. On day two I caught a thermal just a few meters off the ground while I was already committed to land and ended up crashing into a barbed wire fence. I was incredibly lucky to have hit a post with my shoes and avoided hitting the spikes with my body. But my paraglider wasn’t as lucky. It was still traveling at a high speed and the barbs caused severe damage to about 25% of my wing.

Start of X-Pyr 2016, Hondarribia

I considered the situation with Alex, my teammate, and we agreed that it was a complex repair, not something we could just tape up and it was a significant safety risk. We didn’t have a backup glider and it was impossible for us to buy, rent or in any other way get another glider within the next few days. I even told Alex I would pack my damaged glider and walk as far as I could, without the possibility of flying, until the race was over. He smartly talked me out of this idea. We decided to call the Race Director and let him know that we were retiring. Our race was over. 

For us X-Pyr involved months of planning, training and dreaming. It wasn’t easy to take a step back and see three amazing athletes and pilots make it all the way to the Mediterranean. But because of my background as a mountaineer I understand that there are variables that are outside of my control, that I can’t change and therefore I should accept and move on. That uncertainty is the nature of adventure races like X-Pyr and that’s part of what draws us. My definition of adventure: a journey in which the outcome is uncertain. X-Pyr is definitely an adventure.

Preparing for the race, and the race itself can be a logistical nightmare for participants and assistants. But it doesn’t compare to the extraordinary effort made by the race organizers. While we have mandatory rest periods from 22:30 to 5:30, they kept going all night looking after us. I’m extremely grateful to Íñigo Redín and his amazing team for putting together such a complex race, and still make it challenging but fun for us. I would also like to thank my teammate Alex for planning and dreaming being a part of this adventure with me. You can always expect him to keep a cool head and a smile, and he won’t disappoint.

So what’s next for me? Paragliding competitions, summiting an unclimbed peak in the Himalayas, marathons, ultra-marathons and multi-stage adventure races in the desert. And that’s just until the first half of next year! But I’m sure that wherever I am and whatever I’m doing, on the back of my mind I will be thinking of X-Pyr 2018 and reaching El Port de la Selva. 

X-Pyr: The hike & fly race across the Pyrenees

When in the middle of January of this year I received the email confirming that our team had been selected to participate in X-Pyr 2016, I first felt thrilled and proud to have been chosen for one of the biggest and most exciting adventure races in the world. My next thought was, “you better get it together because the first half of this year will be one of the most challenging of your life”.

I’m no stranger to tough challenges. I’ve been climbing mountains for the past 23 years and among many other achievements I’ve stood on the summit of Mount Everest (8,848 meters) 6 times. I began paragliding as a safer and more efficient way of getting off the mountains and I’ve participated in many competitions. I’ve sailed offshore for thousands of miles, mostly singlehanded and I’ve run in about two dozen marathons, Ironman triathlons and hundreds of road races. But this year would be especially challenging because I had to run a marathon in February, I had to train for and climb Mount Everest again during the spring and I had to get ready for X-Pyr. My teammate Alex Gonzalez was a big help with planning the logistics for X-Pyr while I concentrated on my climbing expedition.

I flew to Nepal on March 28 and went flying in Pokhara. It’s one of my favorite sites. On April 7 I flew to the Himalayas and began the trek to Everest Base Camp, climbing a 6,200 mountain on the way. I arrived at Base Camp on April 19 and began the slow process of getting acclimatized to the altitude. My plan was to try to climb without supplemental oxygen but, as I was climbing in association with The Live Love Laugh Foundation trying to raise awareness about the dangers of depression and mental health disorders, I made the decision to give up my personal goal and reach the summit with the Foundation’s banner. I got to the summit on May 12 climbing with Pa Rita Sherpa on a day with perfect weather conditions. It was my 6th summit.

As I returned to Base Camp the next day my mind went from climbing mode to hike & fly mode. Everest was behind me and X-Pyr was where I would focus all my energy and time. I returned to Mexico a few weeks later and one of the first things I did was to go to Valle de Bravo and fly again. What an amazing feeling to be back in the sky after dreaming about it for two months. I knew there would be a lot of catching up to do with only one and a half months to go before the start of X-Pyr.

During the weeks leading to X-Pyr I will be flying more than I’ve ever flown before, and I will be posting updates on this blog and on social media about my training and preparations. Thank you for following me on this adventure.