By Susana Madera
Quito, Jul 19 (EFE).- Ecuadorian Ivan Vallejo was 12 when he climbed to the top of Illiniza Norte in what was the start of an adventure that has taken him all over the world to the summits of dozens of mountains, experiences that he will now share via an audiovisual project that will captivate nature lovers.
“Mundo de aventure” (World of Adventure) is the name of the project Vallejo will offer starting this week on his Youtube channel, on which he will present – in different episodes – his travels to various mountains in Ecuador and around the world.
He starts off the project with images of his ascent of Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano, rising 5,897 meters (19,342 feet) above sea level and the highest volcano in the world, having hit on the idea for the project during the obligatory coronavirus pandemic, which – he said – led “many, if not everyone, to rethink projects or invent new ones.”
Vallejo, who claims that his love of mountains is genetic and imbedded in his DNA, said that at age 8 he experienced “love at first sight” when – from a balcony – he first viewed the Tungurahua volcano and asked his mother: “What do they call people who climb mountains?”
“Mountains are the cathedrals of my life, and you go to a cathedral to meditate, to pray, to give thanks and, every now and then, to ask for something,” he said.
Although he has climbed dozens of mountains, among them the “14 8-mile peaks,” Vallejo keeps almost no statistics on his ascents so that he does not fall into “the frivolity” of “climbing to count,” he said, noting that the only account he keeps “more or less” is the one involving Cotopaxi, which he has climbed approximately 282 times.
At age 61, he trains for five or six days per week alternating between bicycling and track and field work, and he eats a healthy diet.
On Dec. 28, 1988, Vallejo fell into an enormous crevice on Ecuador’s Chimborazo volcano. “I had a big, big scare because I remained buried for four hours, completely immobilized and waiting for my friends to … rescue me.”
“I thought, ‘What an absurd way for me to die doing this which I enjoy so much’ and I got mad at the mountain,” Vallejo told EFE, adding that he got through the anxious situation by praying to God until a friend rescued him.
After that, he initially promised himself that he would climb no more mountains but six months later and after a “personal ceremony to work with the fear,” he once again began climbing.
Vallejo has climbed mountains in Alaska, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, China, Pakistan and Nepal.
He said that among his most difficult ascents were the ones he made of K2, Kanchenjunga and Dhaulagiri, the second, third and seventh highest mountains in the world, respectively, and three of the 14 8-mile peaks, the last one of which he scaled on May 1, 2008.
Arriving at the summit of Everest, climbing Cotopaxi with his son, getting to the top of Kanchenjunga (on his fifth attempt), completing the 14 8-mile peaks and being embraced by his son after getting to the summit of a 4,300-meter peak in Ecuador in the middle of the pandemic are some of his most emotional moments, he said.
“Life must be lived with intensity every day,” Vallejo added.
A chemical engineer by training, a lecturer for 12 years at the National Polytechnic School’s Sciences Institute, a guide and motivational coach, Vallejo said that the best lesson from the pandemic is that one must “live here and now” and share experiences.
“If I make films, take photos and only I see them, it’s wasted money. You have to share your trips,” he said, having created periodic audiovisual presentations of his trips since 1988.
However, now he has decided to bring the mountains into the homes of everyone via Youtube to share his experiences and reflections with videos that will last between four and 12 minutes and will allow viewers to see the ascent process and climb up among the clouds to see and feel the world from on high.