Breakfast, lunch and dinner thinking about the mountain. Pablo Zelaya Huerta, 37, lives for her 100 percent. Although he almost lost his life in the Cordillera de los Aconquija in 2011 and his life was in danger in his attempt to reach the top of Everest; The passion and love for the mountain is stronger. Challenging and conquering it makes him feel alive.
The "Condor", as they know him in the environment, adopted mountaineering as a way of life. Back in Tucumán, after touring peaks in the Himalayas, in Sweden and in France, he receives us at his house in Horco Molle, where he lives surrounded by hills and nature.
I don't need anything other than being with the mountain, "says Zelaya Huerta." It fills me with life, it gives me pleasure, "he explains about why he challenges the limits to reach the tops of the world.
While priming some mates, during a sunny afternoon, he says that at home he has no television or internet connection. Only a cell phone connects it with the world. While most tucumanos eat mate or coffee with milk with muffins and bills, Zelaya Huerta eats an omelet every morning, as well as cereals and fruits.
To the Extrem
The "Condor" is not an impromptu or a stranger. With a long experience in the trade for over 20 years, he has dozens of peaks reached in South America and teaches the secrets of mountaineering to his students.
Zelaya Huerta takes her projects to the extreme. In February 2015, with the aim of spreading the task of the "Wait for Life" foundation that promotes bone marrow donation, the Aconcagua rose and fell, considered the roof of America 6,963 meters high, in just 18 hours .
It is considered the fifth fastest expedition made at Aconcagua. This year, invited by some friends he met at Aconcagua, Mexican Luis Álvarez, and Indian Ara Khatchadourian, accepted the challenge of reaching the summit of Everest of 8,848 meters.
They have several 8,000 meter peaks in the Himalayas. Zelaya Huerta and his friends tried to do it on the north side, the Chinese, without sherpas (guides) and without oxygen.He managed to ascend to 7,400 meters. However, with temperatures above 50 degrees below zero, his arms and legs were frozen. That same night, and in a tent that was next to his own, a couple of Englishmen affected by pulmonary edema died. He thought of his sons Tomás and Agustina and decided to go down to the camp to recover and return home.
But when he was putting together the bags, an emergency call he heard on the radio at the base camp changed all his plans. His friends Álvarez and Khatchadourian asked for help from 8,300 meters.
After having reached the top they were blinded by having removed the goggles. The sun had burned their retinas. "When I heard him cry to my friend Luis asking for help, I told myself that I couldn't lose another friend," says Zelaya Huerta. Despite being physically ill, he promised Alvarez that he would be with him in the morning to help him get off. In 2011, when they tried to cross the Snows of the Aconquija with their friend Alejandro Sorondo they were surprised by strong winds. Zelaya Huerta managed to survive with serious breaks. Sorondo was found days later without life in the mountains by a group of rescuers.
He recalled that when he helped his friends down, he felt a great helplessness because a woman asked for help at 8,300 meters.
Her husband had died of a stroke and she had an edema and had run out of oxygen. The company they had hired had left them abandoned, because they had to pay $ 60,000 to help them. The woman died hours later. "Her body and mind decided to stay with her husband," she said sadly as she remembered the moment.
"The mountain absorbs you, Everest kills you," he said of the dangers involved in challenging the top considered the roof of the world.
The rematch and a new challenge
The "Condor" seems to not give up until it meets its objectives. He knows that he was very close to being the first Tucuman to conquer the roof of the world.
Therefore, he said that in 2017 he will seek to reach the top of Everest in just 24 hours. "I have a lot of confidence," he says very confident in his abilities.However, Everest's challenge is not the only one he has in mind. By 2020 he was invited to cross the South Pole, in Antarctica. Although it is not a mountain, he accepted the challenge and plans to make the 1,200 kilometers of glacier field, alone and with a sled.
"I want to carry the Tucuman flag everywhere," says the man who feels like a stranger in the city and like a condor in full flight when he climbs the mountain