Sunday, January 14, 2024

Missed Adventures

Monte Similaun is the peak in the distance. Those tracks across the glacier lead back to the Similaun Hut and the descent through a labyrinth of crevasses in a stream bed back to Vent. Our guide, the fabulous Florian Schranz, told us to "Follow in my tracks." Apparently we did.

I’ve spent lots of words over the last few years lamenting dreamed about but not fulfilled adventures. And each time I whine about the missed opportunities and pledge not to repeat them, I do it again. Here I am, ever the dreamer not the doer.

Much like the photograph you wish you’d taken, places of your dreams can lose their luster or become outright dangerous or even disappear. Or, worse, you may no longer have the capacity to do it. While I’m not there yet in the broadest sense I can no longer do things that could have accomplished twenty years ago, say climb a 20,000 foot Himalayan Peak. And I’m not going to run a marathon. At 62 I could link a few 7 minute miles on my way to a 48 minute 10k and at 82 it’s more like 12 minute miles if I’m lucky. Often it's 15 minutes per. 

And it’s not just physical limitations that befall us. Sometimes the portal to the place of your dreams has closed or shouldn’t be opened, like Ecuador.

In the category of don’t go there now is Cuenca, Ecuador, the best place to retire in the world a scant five years ago. That would be the next place I’d study Spanish or so I thought. Now the country is gripped by narco-violence that it doesn’t have the capacity to fight. A national emergency has been declared. Fito, the leader of the Los Choneros cartel just escaped prison under dubious circumstances and is nowhere to be found, Of course, like much of Latin America gangs run the prisons and direct their minions from luxurious accommodations behind prison walls. Pinched by heroin producers in Colombia and Peru who use Ecuador’s ports to transport product Ecuador lacks the will, money, military, or police to extinguish the fire. And the latter are probably dirty. Murders doubled in 2023 and eight times in five years. I didn’t go when I could have. Woulda shoulda coulda.

Buenos Aires, Argentina, another city that has captivated me the last decade may have fallen by the wayside, too, though for less explosive reasons. The Argentines have elected a toupee wearing right wing populist president and inflation has risen by 140% rendering living or traveling to the Paris of South America problematic. At least three friends call Buenos Aires their favorite city on the planet: a vibrant stew of art, wine, steak and tango. Maybe I’ve may missed the boat to Argentina, as well.

And while we're talking about Argentina, wine producing Mendoza at the foot of the Andes has stood atop my wish list of places to visit for the thirty years since I asked world traveling mountain guide Marc Chauvin “What’s your favorite place in the world?” He said “Mendoza” without hesitation.

So, Buenos Aires and Mendoza stay on my wish list but have been downgraded from probable to possible. With that kind of inflation civil unrest is likely.

You could make the case that I’ve lived one real adventure, a trek in the Everest region of Nepal in 1992. To me the word “adventure” suggests an event of considerable effort or risk. The objective of my '92 trip was to climb 20,226 foot Island Peak. A retinal hemorrhage at 18,208 feet on Kala Patar scuttled that goal but at least it was a real adventure by my definition.

Attempting to climb Maine’s 5,269 Mount Katahdin in winter was another true adventure that ended in a soaked sleeping bag. I made every rookie mistake a fool like me could make, namely a bivy sack over a down sleeping bag in a tent. I almost froze in my own sweat. I’ve never been so cold and tired. But at least we did it and lived to tell about. That was the 90s, also.

A 2006 hut to hut ski tour in the Austrian and Italian Alps also qualifies as an adventure however brief. We summited Mount Similaun and enjoyed a glorious descent through fresh powder to the hut, a cold brew and down to Vent, Austria. It may have been my favorite experience ever though my balky back was already barking. Now the pitiful thing is on life support.

Every other alleged adventure has been on the soft side so I hesitate to call them adventures at all. I suppose the ones to follow will be have to be soft. What, where and when these will happen are in the day dreaming stage as always, but one will happen 2024. I swear to me.

Unfortunately, I have no images to depict Nepal, Island Peak or Katahdin. They are all on slides and my Epson scanner is kaput. So, in lieu of photographs of adventures past I’ll leave you with one lousy shot of Mount Similaun from the Similaun hut. Those arcs in the snow are our tracks from the peak. God, it was amazing! 

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Mt. Similaun "God, it was amazing!" might just be enough, despite the fact that you don't think so at this point. The idea is to put yourself out there enough to be amazed, and there is absolutely no lack of things that fit the mold. A friend of ours who is 75 is doing an Alp hut to hut tour this spring with her sister. Another friend and her husband actually moved to Colombia for their retirement and have been there for over five years now, loving it. She is also now fluent enough in Spanish to be taking martial arts, all taught in Spanish. Perhaps Colombia could be an adequate substitute for Ecuador. And of course, if you went to Mendoza, you would need to take a tango lesson or two. Thanks for exploring life and its possibilities in your blog this morning.