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Vlad Capusan – the tamer of Patagonian winds7 min read

Portrait

When you first meet him, a wave of positive energy hits you. After just a few minutes in his company, you are already infected by his enthusiasm. His heart and soul are always in search of the unexplored. A true artist – he expresses his art both on the white canvas and on the vast white of the mountain. It is the latter that allows him to draw the masterpieces of his own life. After an expedition, he can catch your eye up in the sky above his hometown – Cluj – flying Piggy. Nope, no mistake here – Piggy is the name of the small airplane he flies.

 

Vlad and Piggy

 

Be it in the Himalayas, Patagonia, British Colombia or home in Romania, opening new lines is the way to go for him. He is a climber, mountaineer, artist, pilot, explorer, an entrepreneur but mostly – one really cool guy. Meet Vlad Capusan, for whom boundaries are solely the gateway to life and the right moment is always now, for now is all we have.

 

Self-portrait

When I look in the mirror…

 

“I see a pack, a box in which my soul is trapped, but at the same time, I think about how to use this package to give maximum value to my life and to the world I live in. Mountains helped me to think outside the box.”

The Beginning

“It was very romantic! After a long trail in winter, followed a cold night in which I slept under the snow – my first bivouac. The strong wind beat me all night, and the cold froze my feet and my hands. I had nothing to eat, and the last bar I split in two with my teammate. I trembled all night until the light of dawn came to life.It was a love at first glance, I knew I’d do this all my life.”

 

When he was a kid, Vlad wanted to become a warrior. That explains why he would dress as Thor if he’d go to a costume party. Instead, he kind of became the Thor of alpinism, putting a victorious start of what promises to be a year full of exploration and adventure.

 

Vlad showing his target – Cerro Torre, Patagonia

Expedition Patagonia

On January 4th, 2018 Vlad and his climbing partner Zsolt Torok embark on a new adventure. What followed was dancing the tango with the fierce Patagonian winds, taming the big bull Cerro Torre, opening a new line by accident (yep, it simply looked the logical line to follow!), and climbing on Aguile de Mediluna with new friends. Somewhere during the last month, Vlad lost not only his backpack to the wind but also a dream – one that came true, solely to create space for new.

 

Cerro Torre, Patagonia

 

In the world of climbing and mountaineering, only select few manage to stand on the top of Cerro Torre and the feeling of being one of those people…

 

It’s a blessing, it’s a gift from God.

First Attempt

The forecast promises a window and the Romanian team prepares for an attempt of Cerro Torre. They walk for over 20 km to Nipponino base camp with all the gear, but the weather changes and so does the plan. Instead, they go for an attempt on Cerro Adela Sur.

 

“So I’ve been looking for this gorgeous route on Cerro Adela Sur. We could not believe that no one had ever thought about going through this wall which was so appealing. After our experience in the Himalayas, this wall was like a glove for us. We had the right recipes for it.”

 

Vlad somewhere in the whiteout, Patagonia

 

They manage to reach the summit after a 17-hour push. During the descent, the wind shows no mercy and they have to make a bivi. They find shelter going down into a crevasse but the bridge breaks and they are forced to make an epic bivi on the ridge in the worst conditions one could imagine. The descent on the next day to the Adela Glaciers is a game of Russian Roulette through the seracs.

 

“We rated the climb M5+/WI4, our round trip from the Niponino camp took us 34 hours in total, with a 7-hour bivi.”

 

Cerro Torre

“On January 25th, at around 4 am, we went to the top of the Col de la Esperanza with a minimum of equipment, and with food for a day, in the hope that we would find the route under optimal conditions and be able to reach the top on the same day, but I was far from the truth. I’ve been on the ground for over 35 hours from the Colonel, but I didn’t feel any fatigue.”

 

Vlad leading on Cerro Torre, Patagonia

It was a struggle between man and nature, in which we did not defeat the mountain, but defeated our personal limits. It was teamwork, determination and special effort.

 

Just 50 feet below the summit, Vlad and Zsolt are forced to spend the night without any bivouac equipment. The last quarter of their gas tank provides them with the last 3 litters of water. The break of dawn mobilises their sleepless and shivering bodies and after the last bites of energy bars, they throw themselves into the battle of their life. Placing protection is often impossible and the biggest battle, as it usually happens, is the one in the head.

 

“In climbing, the greatest battle is in my mind. It was a battle with myself to not give up after we did not succeed on the first day, although we arrived just 50 feet below the peak. I remember the next day, I was exhausted, but I knew we would succeed. My mind and my soul were on the top. We focused 100% on the top.”

 

And they summit!

 

Vlad and Zsolt on the summit of Cerro Torre

 

“We have had epic moments that taught us once again of the huge commitment and the importance of training and experience. Patagonia means exploration and adventure. The speed with which you adapt to unexpected situations can make the difference between failure or success. The huge distances, the unpredictable weather, and the technical difficulties create out of this place a cathedral, often impenetrable. The style of modern climbing in Patagonia redefines physical limits and represents a landmark for the training program I aspire to.”

 

Vlad on top of Cerro Torre

The Future

The future for Vlad is unexplored. It is hidden in mysterious places, where no human foot has stepped. Sacred pieces of mother Earth, with a substantial vertical gain, where one writes his own story and destiny on pieces of rock and ice.

 

“I set my targets after the peaks that frighten me the most. Just confronting directly with my fears, I can overcome my limits.”

 

Yet, it is neither the danger nor the mountains that scare him really. His worst fear is “to live a sedentary life without falling in love with the beauty of it.”

 

He loves his family, his ice axe and, well, it is always a good idea to have a great espresso. Humble and respectful, Vlad is an energy explosive, that is yet to show the magnitude of his adventurous nature. I would say it is worth following his path as an alpinist, but I know for sure it will all happen off the beaten path. With already one nomination from the prestigious mountaineering award Piolet d’Or for the first ascent of Peak 5 (6421 m) in the Makalu group, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Vlad.

This is not the end. It’s just the beginning!

 

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