70 years Seven Summits and some music too
18:18 p.m. EST Jan 21, 2004
When Ramón Blanco stood on Mount Kosciuszko on December 29, 2003, he was 70 years and 243 days old (source AdventureStats). With that, he became the oldest climber to finish the Kosciuszko-version of the Seven Summits.
An unusual mountaineer, and an extraordinary man, Ramón initially studied business administration, but left to pursue his real dreams – mountaineering and building musical instruments.
“I didn’t learn climbing until I was 32 years old”, Ramón writes on his website. “At an age when most mountaineers are already veterans”.
Ramon finally learned climbing in the National Mountaineering School of Mexico, but before that he had already ventured on Mexican 5000 meter volcanoes by himself.
His first encounters with climbing were very simple:
"My friends and I went out in a straight line, through the pine forests without a clear aim - guided by the snow peak we occasionally spotted. We had no gear, simply because we didn’t own any. Tents, stoves, or boots – we had practically nothing.
We spent the nights by a fire, hurdled together – switching places occasionally (those at the sides would go to the middle to enjoy warmer temperatures for a while). In the morning, we’d hurry back on the trail. The distances were always longer than we had calculated. Turning back home, we often got lost – arriving in completely different towns. The forest was dense, there were no paths, and we owned no compass. We ate our food rations long before schedule. I would return to the mountain with “new” friends almost every time – for my first companions had had enough of such adventures and such a “guide”.
Well, October 7 l964 Ramon and his friends summited at last their first mountain; Popocatepetl 5.452m:
“Suddenly I was at the edge of the crater! Surprise, tremor and tears of emotion. I had never
seen anything like it – or climbed such a high mountain. I believe that that was the "push" towards what later would come. I waited for my friends. They followed, dressed in their regular street wear, Raul with his simple boots, today they would be called “trekking shoes”. We were in awe. We shot pictures. And then we ran down, snow blind with semi frozen feet, and sun burned faces.”
In 1993, almost 30 years later, Ramon stood on top of Everest. And this past December, Ramon crowned his 40 years of mountaineering with the last of the Seven Summits.
When not climbing, Ramón crafts instruments. Guitars and Mandolins among other. Check his website for videos, pictures and some music too.
Image courtesy of www.ramonblanco.com