Here are some ideas that seek to express my way of living the mountain. In fact, those of us who have the opportunity to enjoy this activity, largely recognize that the mountain is a school of life, since, regardless of each particular experience, it always teaches a lesson. Such is the case that, after doing my first excursion to Mount Champaquí, I realized that it had stirred something special inside me. To tell you the truth, this new world wasn’t suddenly revealed to me, but neither was it kept hidden for a long time. The mountain not as such, but as God through it, was leaving its divine mark, its essence, a sort of message saying: “this is for you”. This is the interpretation I made a few years after the 1988 ascent with a group of young people.

Thus lots of stories took place, teachings in the most varied types, learnt from people, learnt from friends, in different situations, at higher or lower altitudes above sea level, in diverse weather conditions, spending time together and accepting what is culturally distinct, our own habits and those from other countries. A whole collection of allowed and denied summits, but all summits anyway. I’m not speaking about trophies, but gifts. Summits, which are sometimes reached and touched with all one’s being, and other times it’s more a soul touch than a body touch. Some of them are only reached in dreams, they may be closer or more distant, but all of them are wished and held in our hearts, just where they had to be etched forever, in the middle of all those fresh memories of the people who shared the summit. There are also a few ones in the memories of solitude, as an intense experience of personal encounter. All those solo ascents and expeditions were useful for glimpsing a new teaching: “going to the mountains is not the same as escaping from the city”, it is rather a way of gaining altitude so as to return home and see the city with new eyes.

By the way, during my early years as a mountaineer, it was difficult for me to go back home and have a sense of wholeness. A portion of me used to remain high over the sea level. I had an earnest desire to stay there, where every fiber of my being sensed that the mountain was my place. Later, I learnt another lesson from this marvelous school of life: “it is possible to hit the summit wherever you are”. Then I found that there was not only a mountain summit, but also a city summit, a daily peak which is more authentic, belongs to every climber of life, and has to be faced in every situation.

Years went by, and the kilometres I’ve horizontally or vertically travelled led me to reveal a new gift: high-altitude mountain. The learning of not only new techniques and methodologies but also the use of the suitable mountain gear drew a different style of living the mountain. A way of broaden horizons which emphasized the combination existing between enjoyment and continuous learning: the succession of steps on the climbing in life which is called “growing”.
The passage of time enabled me to see enjoyment was, and still is, the result of what has been left and brought by all of those who have, in a way or the other, instilled such a passion in me. Without referring to individuals, some of my climbing partners were my family, friends, acquaintances, students and teachers from different schools and well-known mountaineers, through the experiences they have recorded in books. 

On the other hand, the continuous learning process has, in my opinion, its true north on what I identify as the permanent summit, the one of every current moment, the summit to which we are all summoned: Carrying this everyday ascent forward, communally instead of individually, helping each other.

The ones, who climb mountains, contemplate them as well. There’s no mountain without contemplation. The most breathtaking mountains may be there, just in front of our eyes, but without an adequate capacity to contemplate, they could possibly go unnoticed. In etymological terms, the word contemplation brings us face to face with a true mystery which concerns us and transcends our understanding, leading to a game battling between the heights and the depths, the visible and the invisible, between what can be put with words and what cannot be uttered. Another major teaching of the mountain: Contemplate in every moment, recognizing there was, is and will be a Creator.

These words were written with an emotion similar to the feeling I have before setting foot on a summit. The mountaineering style I enjoy today is the result of the shared process, in which the mountain itself is very likely shown in all its faces since such is its personality: it makes itself felt, it’s closed, it surprises us, it dazzles us, it brings us to the limit and gives us the chance to know our capabilities.

I hope every time you go over a mountain, and let it go through your inner self as well, you can always lead your emotions to the top.

Eng. Ariel Gustavo Stechina

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