Our team member Eric Destefanis, tells us about his passion for Rock Climbing. When Courage, passion, and love for nature are needed to enjoy this marvelous and risky sport.
How did you decide to start Rock Climbing?
I started climbing because of my friends, who were already climbing and spending most of their weekends in the mountains. It was mainly to share more time with them.
How did you feel the first time you climbed?
The experience was incredible, we got to the crag before sunrise, and I remember we were waiting in the car (it was cold outside), and I kept wondering what was this going to be about, and the (from then on) usual question: ‘what am I doing here?’.
Where was the first time you reached the top?
The first time I climbed was in a climbing area called “La Ola” (The Wave), in the Altas Cumbres, Cordoba, Argentina. Climbing has different levels of difficulty, we started with the easiest stuff, and it was just amazing. I got so much motivation from that day, that I started climbing in indoor gyms in Cordoba city. Then, the motivation kept growing, and a few months later, I lost some weight (~25kg) mainly to be able to try harder routes.
If you had to indicate a top 3 of the best places to do Rock climb, what would they be?
Well, I have been lucky to have traveled to other countries to see other areas. The main or first place for me is what some people consider the current sport climbing mecca, a little town called Siurana, in Spain. After that, Yosemite has incredible short and long climbs, with a very special type of climbing (called crack climbing), and spectacular views. Third place would probably go to a little town in California called Bishop. It’s very popular in the climbing world due to its many world-class bouldering (short climbs that require no ropes but crash pads) areas.
How do you prepare or what is your routine before going mountain climbing?
Well, I practice mainly during the week to try some routes on the weekends or on a trip. I usually find some route that I am interested in doing and train specific skills and strengths in order to climb it. There is a lot of technique involved in outdoor climbing, mainly to put as much of your body weight through your feet, instead of the arms or fingers; but that’s something we can almost only improve on real rock.
What places have you visited climbing, do you have any anecdotes to share?
I have spent some time off traveling through different climbing areas in Argentina (Cordoba, Mendoza, Bariloche), North America (Yosemite, Bishop, RMNP, Maple Canyon, a little in Mexico, etc), and a few countries in Europe (mainly Spain, there is just so much rock over there).
I think one of my best anecdotes was in Potrero Chico (Nuevo Leon, Mexico). December 31st of 2016 was the date when my partner and I decided to try the longest route in the area. Even though it wasn´t the hardest it was like 700 meters IIRC. We were scared of not finishing it during the day cause it’s hard to climb tired at night, and also a little risky sometimes. So we decided to start around midnight, and lots of things happened.
When leaving the camping to walk to the route, around 30 min hike, we realized there was a huge gate we had never seen closed until that time. There was no guard around, so we tried to climb it with all our backpacks. The alarm started to ring, and we ended up starting the climb around 2 a.m. We realized we didn’t have enough water, neither our wind jackets and the awaited sun just brought more wind. In the end, we made the summit around 11 am. Surprisingly, the rappel down took around the same time as the actual climb.
Do you have any recommendation or advice for those who want to practice this sport?
I think the best way to start is to join a local indoor gym. It’s usually a very friendly atmosphere where you can meet some people, take some outdoor climbing classes, or join some more experienced people on a weekend. Its a fun activity during the week but for me, the main part is being able to practice a sport while enjoying nature with friends.