LA ESFINGE – PERU 4
e g n Esfi
the riddle of the sphinx A lost wager, a debt of honour, two Spaniards and a Sphinx in the middle of Peru - Dani Moreno and Eduard Marin Garcia together on a trip usually results in the following: loads of fun. And some impressive ascents. TEXT: FLO SCHEIMPFLUG PHOTOS: TIMELINE PRODUCTION
Edu Marin was sprinting up the last few metres to reach the belay when his partner, Dani Moreno, called up to him from 30 metres below. “Hey, Edu!” shouted Dani, grinning mischievously. “I have a riddle for you! If you get it, the beers are on me tonight! If you don’t, then you pay! So, what do you say?” “A riddle?” Edu shouted back, gasping for air. “You know [cough] that I love [wheeze] riddles. [Gasp] And beer!” Climbing quickly in the thin high-altitude air of La Esfinge (5,325 metres), an impressive granite mountain located in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca of Peru, Edu coughed like an old truck that will not start. “Clip into the belay, cabrón!” Dani said. “And I will tell you!” Speed climbing in the mountains follows a different set of rules than that of, say, El Capitan. At this altitude, being acclimatized is a serious matter and if you’re
not making frequent pit stops, you’re not going to make it. After stringing together over a thousand feet of pitches, Edu tied a clove hitch to the anchor, took a deep breath, breathed out, leaned back and relieved himself. “So, cariño,” said Edu. “Let’s hear the riddle.” “That’s cute, you’re calling me ‘sweetie’! But if you think that’s going to make it any easier for you, you couldn’t be further from the truth, Marino. This is serious. OK, what goes on two legs in the morning, four legs at midday and no legs in the evening?” “Ha ha, Dani, that’s easy! That’s the riddle the Sphinx asked Oedipus. I know my Greek mythology, amigo. Correct answer: a man. He crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age. Pay me my beer, por favor.” “Hombre: firstly, we are in Peru, not Greece. Secondly, you have to listen carefully.
Not four, two, three, but two, four, zero. Capiche?” “OK, then I have no idea, Dani.” “Well, it’s us two gringos, isn’t it? We hike the approach on two legs in the morning, during the day we climb like crazy on all fours, and when we finally get to the top we are so finished that we can only manage the descent on our gums.” All was quiet for a moment, neither batted an eyelid, then suddenly Edu and Dani sprang to life. They slapped each other on the shoulder, then high-fived. A quick glance at the time and then Edu started handing the gear to Dani. “Go on, the next block is yours. We’ve still got a load of climbing ahead of us. So get moving.” “OK,” said Dani, grinning widely. “But don’t forget: you owe me a beer!”
Back in the days
World Youth Championships, Rouen, France, 2001. It was here that a 13-year-old Dani Moreno from the tiny Spanish village of Daroca near Zaragoza – first met a 16-year-old Eduard Marin Garcia, from Barcelona. They discovered that they were on the
same wavelength and instantly became friends. However, because they lived so far apart and neither had a driving licence, they rarely managed to climb together. When their schedules did coincide, they absolutely ripped up some rock together. The chemistry simply worked through this shared climbing passion. Having fun on these trips was just as important as sending hard routes to Dani and Edu. A dynamic duo? Without a doubt. And a crazy one, too. And though they often found themselves separated for a long time, when they did get back together, it was always as if nothing had changed. In recent years Edu has become completely dedicated to sport climbing. In 2006 he onsighted his first 8c, and then became the first to repeat the ultimate Spanish resistance route La Rambla (9a+) in Siurana. For Dani, climbing was also a sport and a lifestyle that demanded everything from him physically; however, he was more interested in seeking those demanding projects on big-wall adventures in the most remote regions of the world.
Ready – set – go
“Dani, the Cordillera Blanca is unbelievable. And La Esfinge, oh man. A wall of golden yellow granite like from a dream. What about the potential of Hatun Machay? Bouldering, climbing, it’s neverending. You and me, my friend, we have to go there, straightaway!” Edu had just returned from his first trip to the Cordillera Blanca