No one asks a soccer player why he kicks the ball, or a cyclist why he pedals, or a chess player why he squeezes his brain cells while reading the board. Many want to know, instead, why a mountaineer goes out to meet the mountains, where among many other things, he can find death. Carlos Soria is 84 years old and has 14 attempts to reach the top of Dhaulagiri (8,167 m), one of the two eight thousand whose top he has not trodden. The other is the Shisha Pangma (8,027 m). Right now, Soria is hospitalized, with a tibia fracture in his right leg, the same one that a knee prosthesis observes: just three days ago, he suffered a bad fall at 7,700 meters caused by the slip of a sherpa. His rescue was extremely delicate. Now, while the entire community wishes him a speedy recovery, a question hangs in the air: will he return to Dhaulagiri in 2024? and if so, why? Luis Miguel Soriano has shared twenty expeditions with Soria, climbing and filming at his side, of which 10 have been on Dhaulagiri and he has the answer: “It’s very simple, Carlos enjoys Dhaulagiri, he adores that mountain, he loves it. the trip, the approach trekking, being at the base camp, going up and down until acclimatizing”, he sums up.
He is indebted to what life has given him, he is a happy man and capable of judging the dangers to which he submits to the right measure and defends that one has to be where one feels good. And the simplicity of the base camp, the routine of hydrating, reading in the tent, acclimatizing, resting, starting over, dreaming, taking an artisan shower, sharpening the crampons, preparing the backpack… all these gestures of everyday simplicity at the same time. shadow of a beautiful mountain give Soria a happiness that looks as modest as it is necessary. Where is the border with obsession? Luis Miguel Soriano is clear about it: “I would not have accompanied Carlos so many times if he saw him as an obsessive being. His humble origins barely allowed him a school education, but in return he has enormous intelligence, and it is something that I have been able to appreciate both in his way of reading life and in his way of facing the mountains or in his conversations . Carlos is not an obsessed man who goes to fight with the Dhaulagiri. In fact we have not been to Shisha Pangma because being in China it has been increasingly difficult to obtain an ascent permit. No, Carlos loves what he does, from training at home or at the gym to going to Dhaulagiri and having to quit. The times that I have been with him in his resignation, he has always been proud of having known how to turn around ”, fulfilling an old mountaineering adage that warns: the mountain will always be there.
Many great climbers abandon expeditions when they turn 50: lack of motivation, excessive situations lived to the limit, desire for a change of scenery, need to protect themselves from the memory of so many missing companions… None of this has alleviated Carlos Soria’s need to dream. . “To Carlos, the records, the figures matter very little to him. He does not climb for a great cause, or to prove anything to anyone, but because he loves what he does ”, explains Luis Miguel. In front of the microphones, Soria often says that he would like to be the living example that retirement is not an end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life in which many projects are still realistic. But he does not go to the Himalayas with that mission: he travels because he needs it. “I have wanted to climb Dhaulagiri with all my soul, with all my strength, for a long time,” the man from Avila told the magazine. unevenness shortly before leaving for Nepal.
And it is this illusion that is almost inappropriate for old age that really overwhelms and is something that should not be confused with closure or blindness. “Carlos is a very prudent person, very analytical and who knows how to turn around when the mountain does not have the best conditions. In fact, he adores Dhaulagiri, he doesn’t see it as an enemy to subdue, but as a friend to treat with respect until it’s time to step on the top of it. One of the things that makes Carlos most proud is never having had to be rescued, always having made the right decisions, the ones that allowed him to get out of the mountain by himself, safely”. His recent rescue, the first of his life, when he lived the day he had dreamed of (cold, but clear, with good snow and in great shape), when the summit seemed closer than ever, does not blur one iota the autonomy shown by Soria in the mountains. And it is this ability to be able to maneuver and decide in the high mountains that separates a mountaineer from a tourist.
“If there is something that Carlos hates, it is the false epic that the world of mountaineering wears. He usually says that he does not go to the mountains to have a bad time, and although he has known hard times, the vast majority of the time he has only found fun and great experiences, a challenge to be measured knowing that the most important thing is not to risk even one millimeter more than what is strictly necessary and return unscathed”, recalls Luis Miguel.
Nobody seems to dare to ask Carlos Soria yet if he will return in a year. Everyone knows, on the other hand, that the possibility is already installed in the mind of the man from Avila, who confesses to having spent the worst moments of his life while his friend Sito Carcavilla, several Sherpas and two Polish mountaineers strove to descend him to Camp 2, where he was able to be evacuated from the mountain in a helicopter piloted by Simone Moro. Why expose yourself again, then? Perhaps simply because the way of understanding life passes, in the case of Carlos Soria, inevitably through the top of Dhaulagiri.
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