We had the honour of interviewing international mountaineering enthusiast, Iván Vallejo Ricaurte recently. Iván who hails from Ecuador has conquered all the 14 Eight-Thousanders located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Asia without supplemental oxygen back in 2008. Even having achieved such an outstanding event in his life, (which none of us could ever imagine of achieving ourselves) Iván was very humble about his successes. We’re so grateful to him for taking time off his mountaineering schedule to share with us his inspiring story.
Get to know more about Iván and his story in this interview.
1. Transitioning from a career in teaching mathematics to being a full-‐time mountaineer is pretty incredible. Can you tell us what made you decide that that is what you wanted to do and why mountaineering?
Maybe the most incredible transitioning in my life was to abandon my profession, chemical engineering to be a mathematics teacher at the university. I made this decision because when I was an engineer, I hadn´t enough time to climb mountains and for me this was always very important in my life. Of course, working like as an engineer my salary was very good, but I was unhappy because it was not possible for me to go to the mountains. Finally, I made the decision and became a teacher. This was the best decision of my life. It made it possible for me to go to the Himalayas for climbing Mount Everest in 1999.
I stopped teaching at the University in 2000 when I decided to climb the 14 eight-‐thousanders because it was impossible to manage the two activities.
2. Your achievements are nothing less than inspiring to so many. What is it that drives you every day to do what you do?
Thanks a lot for your praise.
I am completely sure that the mountains are my Life School, in it I have learned many and beautiful lessons so important for my life, and my philosophy is that I must share those lessons to increase in my family, my friends and people close to me the capacity to dream and work hard to achieve those dreams.
3. You conquered all 14 eight-‐thounsanders without supplemental oxygen back in 2008. What kind of preparations did you have to make to achieve that?
Well, the beginning of my training was to go up Everest. I started my plan as a high performance athlete at the end of 95, I continued on 96-‐97-‐98 and finally, thank God, I got to the top of Mount Everest on May 1999. After that, in 2000, I climbed K2, and just after this I decided to climb the 14 eight-‐thousanders. During this time (actually until now) my coach was Oscar Concha. He designed my training plan for running, biking, and swimming, six day in a week, and twice in the month going to the mountains. So I was training with this plan for 12 years!!!!
4. Tell us about your experience during your mountaineering journey through the 14 eight-‐thousanders.
Undoubtedly, it is the most important sports experience in my life, because it was very long (12 years), the risk was very high, because I did it without oxygen, and because all the lessons that I have learned during this process have been very important for my personal growth. I think this is the most important value added of this project.
Continue reading about Iván Vallejo Ricaurte in our 71 issue of Wild Borneo. Click here to read more!