The 81-year-old Spanish climber Carlos Soria trains to conquer one of the highest peaks in the world. He will dedicate this challenge to elderly victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As an elderly person, I would like to dedicate them to everyone who has disappeared as a result of this terrible pandemic, this terrible crisis,” said Soria in front of his house in the mountains of the Sierra Guadarrama north of Madrid.
If travel restrictions allow, Soria hopes to travel to Nepal in the spring to tackle the 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri climb.
After conquering 12 of the 8,000-meter peaks in the world, Soria wants to complete the list with Dhaulagiri and Tibet’s Shishapangma to become the oldest climber to climb the 14 highest peaks on the planet.
He had aspired to do so earlier this year, but the pandemic has pushed much of the world into the background and put his plans on hold.
Undeterred, he made the most of being stuck at home by sleeping in a hypobaric chamber that mimicked the atmospheric living conditions at 5,000 meters above sea level.
Soria keeps his skills sharp by running for miles through the steep foothills and climbing a rudimentary climbing wall in his winter garden with ice axes.
“With all the mess in the world, being locked in here wasn’t the worst,” said Soria during a break from training.
“I am an experienced climber, a very experienced climber,” he laughs, recalling some of the trips that have taken him to remote areas on every continent.
“Now I’m a little older. I think it’s a nice idea to show people of a certain age that they shouldn’t give up things just because of their age.”