Home > Expeditions & Adventures > Young at Heart: ExWeb interview with Carlos Soria

Young at Heart: ExWeb interview with Carlos Soria

December 5, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Some scientists have found that due to routine most people stop to think outside the box by age 40 (some even at 30). They also quit sports about that time and by 60+ most retire altogether.

Act your age, we are told, but recent records (junior and senior) in the world of extreme adventure beg the question: what age is that, exactly? This year Spanish Carlos Soria achieved a new route on Dome Kang and one of the few (real) GI summits of the season. He barely stopped to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Since he topped out K2 at age 65, Carlos has in fact been smashing Himalaya age records one after the other. With eight 8000ers done, Carlos plans to climb the rest by 75, keeping in shape on the Seven Summits meanwhile.

Currently back from Carstenz Pyramid and preparing for Kili and two more 8000ers next year; the veteran climber took a break in his daily training for a chat with ExWeb’s Angela Benavides.

ExplorersWeb: After so many expeditions in altitude, how did the Carstenz jungle compare?

Carlos Soria: Oh god – it was tough! Not the climb itself, which is nothing remarkable, but the approach! Some people get an airlift right to the base of the mountain but I did the trek, which basically means three days of soaked rainforest scramble, sinking in mud up to our knees. My feet ended up so blistered I couldn’t use boots on the climb – instead, I wore sneakers and two pairs of socks with a plastic bag in between. But it was a lot of fun.

ExplorersWeb: You’ve had a great climbing year, with Dome Kang and GI’s summits…

Carlos: Yeah – Dome Kang was just amazing: a virgin summit just for us to explore and climb. Hidden Peak took a long fight with bad weather and some bitter moments.

(Ed. Note: Fellow Spanish Luis Barbero, who shared climbing permit with Soria, was lost while attempting GII in bad conditions and very late in the day. A stormy spell and high avalanche risk thwarted all rescue attempts.)

ExplorersWeb: By the way, yours was a “real” summit, proved and checked – some other claims are being discussed though…

Carlos: Really – well, I guess you mean the Iranians… watching them in BC celebrating a summit they had not actually reached was shocking of sorts. I mean, it is great of them that they got that far on the mountain – they deserve to feel happy and proud about it; but they didn’t top-out, that’s how things are. A summit is a summit, not “somewhere near” the highest point; no exceptions should be made to the rule.

Then I read some blog comments doubting Miss Oh Eun Sun’s summit – which is unfair. We reached the top together, in very bad weather. The Korean lady climbed without O2, together with her two Sherpas (one used O2, the other didn’t) – both are extremely good climbers. In fact, the two Nepalese contributed a great deal to our own success: the wind was so high on our summit day that we eventually considered to call the attempt off. But the Sherpas stayed optimistic and strong; and their enthusiasm motivated us all to carry on.

ExplorersWeb: There’s been an alarming high number of false claims this year though… to the point that one ends up wondering whether climbers’ statements are less honest than before…

Carlos: I don’t think so. Liars have always been around, no matter the season. Perhaps more people are watching these days, and so those who lie are caught faster and their false statements are made public. The percentage is the same – it’s just that there are more climbers around.

ExplorersWeb: You’ve been climbing in Himalaya since the early 70s’… have you seen many changes?

Carlos: Since I first visited the Himalayas – in 1973 – I’ve seen an amazing increase in the number of expeditions. In 1986 we were alone in BC on Everest north side and look at it now! The large numbers make the climbs easier since there are more people around to break trail, fix ropes, share work, etc…

But the basics are still the same. Of course, with more people you’ll find all kinds of human characters but climbers in general are still a nice bunch – I really think the great majority are honest and helpful and I feel great in their company!

Carlos Soria was born in Avila, Spain, 70 years ago. A current Madrid resident, he has summited eight 8000ers, 4 of them after the age of 65.

In 2009, Carlos climbed Dome Kang, a 7000er in the Kangchenjunga region, via a new route and summited GI on August 3rd, together with fellow Spaniards, Marta Alejandre, Oskar Porras, Unai Zendoia, Arkaitz Lasa; South Korean Oh Eun-Sun and Nepalese Dawa Wangchuk Sherpa.

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