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Covid 19 and Mountain Guiding Lifestyle

“Las epidemias permiten entender la humanidad y la historia. Tocan las fibras más íntimas de nuestra naturaleza humana”  Frank Snowden

From the start, sorry about my poor english…I feel like what I am writing has already been written or thought about regarding the unprecedented times that we are living in with Coronavirus. But I feel like typing it anyway.🙂

One of the good parts is that finally, we all have found some free time to update our blogs…

Today is the 30th of March, 2020. We are in lockdown due to the Corona virus regulations. Already changed my ticket for work twice in early march, innocently trying  to re-program my  European booked trips to Ski and Sail Norway, do the Ortler Traverse with fantastic Italian food in Northern Italy and eat a few croissants in the French Alps before going to the mountains…. yes, are you joking?…do this seems like too much?… Yes it is… These are the luxuries of life that can seem normal today but are not if we go back in time.

As always, my positive mind thought, this is not too bad, this is not going to affect me… Things are always exaggerated in the media…Yes, this time it has hit me, hit you and hit almost everybody. 

In the past, a mountain guide, was a guy who lived in farmlands, was a Shepard, was a local farmer who knew a bit about mountains and showed  the foreigners the beauty of his strenuous  terrain “neighborhood”. Today a mountain guide is cool fit dude with multicolor sunglasses, and lots of new gear  (just joking!) who travels the world showing his guests exotic mountain places.

Maybe, as a mountain guide we don’t pollute as much as the ships that carry oil across the oceans, or the  Japanese-Chinese  ships fishing in the Argentinian seas,  the weapons that travel to Syria, the big trucks that carry goods from country to country  or we are not launching  rockets into  space. Then, in scale we are innocent of this massive consumption of goods and assets.

Well, we also leave a carbon footprint, we take planes and most of our activities are  human powered, we exercise, we do not consume as much as other humans. 

Today I am at home in Bariloche, Argentina, where I haven’t been in the fall (March and April) since 2012. Yes, 8 years has past since I have seen  the red leaves falling out of the amazing Nothofagus Lenga trees in our backyard of Nahuel Huapi National Park.  For the first time in eight years I can feel the sensation of Autumn, the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping.

I have come to realize just  how valuable time at home is. The simplicity of “mi pava de mate” , a cup of tea. I  take the time to rake the garden, burn all old  taxes papers, fix the shelves, paint the fence, sneak for a run with the dog and share a meal with my girl. Simplicity. To enjoy simplicity should be the number one value, to acquire the skills to enjoy a simple healthy life, with good friends.

I started to go to the mountains, because of the sensation of freedom, simplicity and  purity. Cold fresh air on my  face,  great views, being away from society. It was a little bit like a punk rebellion towards the banality of society during my teenage days I started climbing to say “f.. off” to the rules more than for the love of the sport. Then with time, I started to love the sport. I loved the sensation of being away, being in the present. Focused in the very moment. I never concerned myself with the dangers of a big whipper.I look back now and think that the most scary times in climbing were at the beginning, in the early 90’s.

I started skiing at the age of nine. It was love at first sight. In 1992, I did my first traverse, ski touring hut to hut here in Bariloche, Argentina. I did not have  a clue as to what I was doing. In 1994, after a big storm I went to the slackcountry of Cerro Catedral Ski Resort (at that time Ladobueno and Robles catedral concessionary). I started to break trail in a big snowstorm. Suddenly, the clouds started to part and the sun started to reflect on the snow creating shiny sparkling snowflakes that gave me this good feeling. The release of endorphins gave me this weird feeling of total happiness and completion. But, this also was the start of following an instinct. To pursue what I really wanted. To be in the mountains as much as possible.

But going back to the original paragraphs, here I am today, living the most fulfilling lifestyle with the ability to travel, ski and climb for a living.  A simple but complex lifestyle.

Well, the point is, this life is cool and healthy, but also affects the environment gradually,  the problem :  we will not change much.. I know…

Well, the point is, everything we do affects the environment. The message for all of us  is, let’s try to be less harmful to our environment. Take your bike instead of your car, use a sailing boat instead of a motor boat, avoid motorized vehicles like snowmobiles and “snow cats”, buy local food not pasta from Italy or wine from the other side of the world. Just the little changes that are not miraculously impossible will add up.

In just three weeks, that the industrialized world has been in “stand by” amazing things have happened: Fish are back in the Venice channels, Ozone has been reduced by 30%, China’s pollution level has dropped. Do you know,  Argentina have been the best country in taking care of “lockdown” and once more shows to the world how lovely latinos are 🙂 (joking!)

Nothing much to say, but just trying to remain in the Simplicity of Life values. I am thankful for my job of guiding clients on powder slopes and rock faces, managing risk, the intensity of managing human relationships in the mountains where situations can test you and the friends I have made along the way.

Just a mere reflection, that we are living in a very trying times, leaving a big carbon footprint, consuming and eating our own world minute by minute. Lets try to partially re-set ,,

Have a good day, Jorge



glaciar alerce

along the frias valley, before huts were built in Paso de las Nubes

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On the Glaciar alerce towards Paso de las nubes

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Pico internancional y pico Argentino en algun dia de abril a fin de los 90

refugio frey, teenager days, before guiding

Back in the day, before being a proffessional mountain guide, climbing granite in the catedral spires

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Climbing in the ‘cascadas de Agostini’ 1992

frey hut, refugio frey, before guiding

While being a hut keeper in Frey hut-1996

On top of Cerro Lopez ski touring trip in early december (spring 1993)

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After finishing highschool, before being a guide, november climbing

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Free day bouldering in El calafate, Patagonia

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Skiing couloirs in Frey hut patagonia

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Sport climbing cragging in bariloche, before being guides