A solo climberTijl
Last December Silvia Vidal visited Belgium. She gave a lecture concerning her life as solo-climber and we made profit out of this opportunity to have an interview with her. If her name does not ring a bell, you need to know that she climbed for example Life is Lilac (VI A4+ 6a, 870m), on the Shipton Spire (5885m), Karakoram, Pakistan and had a nice climbing adventure with the Belgian Favresse brothers on Baffin Island.
Belclimb: You can call Climbing a late vocation for yourself. You started only when you were 24 years old. What makes climbing so special for you?
Slivia Vidal: Before I was practicing other kind of sports, I was curious for many of them; individual and team sports as well. Climbing arrived late when I was at the University studying Physical Education. Soon I felt it was something different from the other sports I was practicing. I could say; the nature, the partners, the landscapes, the activity itself... At the beginning I just followed the feeling that I wanted to do it. Now it still is the same but it became also my way to live.
Before climbing you practiced a lot of other sports, p.e athletics. In what way did all these other sports help you in your climbers' life?
Everything helps. Athletics gave me the endurance and the capacity to decide to keep going when you think you can't. When I was studding Physical Education I practiced much different kind of sports, and it helped to develop the different skills that each sports has.
India, Pakistan, Mali, Canada (Baffin Island) and Yosemite. Which destination are we missing and should really be on the list?
How come that you went to India and Mali? The other destinations seem quite logic to me but Mali and India are less known climbing destinations. Aren't they not known enough?
Mali is pretty known, Main de Fatima, and India is every year more known. Meru Peak, Garwhal, Shivling, Nanda Devi and some other really known peaks that had been climbing since long time ago. Sometimes I try to find places where there won't be too much people.
Which one of all the cultures you visited could you appreciate the most? Or should we see you as a 'east, west, at home is best'-person?
India is really nice; I like the culture, the landscapes, the people, and the flavors and the chaos as well. All the contrast that makes this country something special. It's intensity.
What did you mean with the expression: 'the house with great panaromic view'??
When you are at a portaledge during so many days, it becomes your home. The luckiest part of that is when you change wall camp and you haul the portaledge some pitches up, because you change the view; new mountains and peaks appear. Then you have a great livings room's window.
In an other interview we read that you are addicted to the city. That seems a bit weird to us, certainly for a person who likes to be in the mountains and appreciates great panoramic views. In what way are you a city-addict??
I'm not addicted to the city. Sometimes interviews are wrong because of the translation or because of the changes they do. I like Barcelona. It's a nice city. And for me is interesting to have both options; mountain and town. It makes you appreciate both much more. As both have good things.
Most of your expeditions are in solo. Why do you like this solitude? What is the extra value of this kind of climbing in comparison with climbing in company?
There's no comparison to a solo ascent and a shared climbing. Not better not worst, just very different. Different; both the physical and the psychological. I always say there are two different kinds of solitude; the good and the bad one. The one you choose to live, and the one you did not choose to live.
How do you prepare yourself for medical emergencies on those solo-expeditions?
I just take a first aid kit. No phones, no internet, no radio...
What are your projects in 2011?
I have no idea about my next expedition, about new projects.
I have climbing plans but not for an expedition, not as a project.
You can read an interesting interview with Silvia on alpinist.com.