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You’re here today to share with us your experiences as an adventurer. One of your greatest achievements was crossing Antarctica in 2012. How did your passion for the extreme start?
I started because I like being part of the action. I wanted to be an elite sportsman. I wanted to compete and live off that. But when I achieved some of my goals I realised I couldn’t be a professional. Maybe you don’t have to win, but to do other things.
What would you say was the biggest challenge of your Antarctica journey?
Maybe being there alone for 48 days, especially when I hadn’t prepared myself for that – I started with a friend, but he gave up. Being alone for so long was a real gift that life gave me, as I discovered many things. There were ups and downs and I really missed my kids, my family, my safety, my Christmas. I needed to be fine in my mind in order not to go to the negative side. I had to look for the positive things. And I had a challenge there and I succeeded. I was really happy every day. I wanted to be there. If you do what you want to do, it makes you strong.
But did you know you had this strength before?
Maybe a little bit yes, because it wasn’t my first big adventure. I had done many things before, climbing Everest, eight Dakar Rallies, etc. I have trained a lot all my life for this kind of mental strength, but you can never trust yourself, you are never ready for that. I’ve seen many people who are very strong and experienced and when there’s an obstacle they fail. Maybe I’ve been very successful in the South Pole, but when I go to the North Pole, hopefully in two years, who knows?
What was the key in managing to achieve what you did?
Connecting to my essence of life, I was connected to the purpose. The goals are there, but are not important. Goals are one thing, you can achieve them or not, but purpose is another thing. I was where I wanted to be, and that’s the key point. If you go there only for your ego, for your goal, for the media coverage, then you are weak. If you are connected to the purpose, you are strong.
What was the most difficult and challenging moment of the journey?
Christmas Day, but not mentally, physically, because the day before there was a lot of fog and I couldn’t see anything and went off the route I wanted to follow. I started to see crevasses and there were 2,000 metres of ice. I thought to call my family by satellite to say Happy Christmas and the next day it was sunny. I had to find the way out. It was one of those days when your only goal is to reach nighttime alive. I have experienced very few days like that, when your only goal is to stay alive. But maybe the most dangerous moment of my life was descending Everest, because we had many problems there. We had a very high chance of dying because of a huge storm. It was the only time I thought “bye-bye”. You need the courage to quit sometimes and it’s difficult when you are under a lot of pressure.
How do you prepare for these extreme conditions?
We were normally working between -15º and -30º. We’re lucky because the equipment is very good. I am soon going to Canada to cross the Great Slave Lake, one of the biggest and coldest lakes in the world. They are now at -47º, we check every day. But you have experience of that, you get used to it. But of course, the equipment is essential.
What tips would you give people to achieve their projects?
Well, I would tell them that they need to take it seriously. In that aspect I’m firm, I don’t like to dream from my dreams, I like to live from my projects. At the beginning of the year you have a lot of dreams, a lot of motivations, a big to-do list, but you don’t put these on a list of projects, you put them on the list of wishes. The first key to achieving it is changing the tense of the verb: you mustn’t say “I want to”, you have to say “I will”. But you must be realistic, you have to kill some wishes because you can’t do all of them. I will do these three or four, but I will do them! And I won’t think about the obstacles, I will think about the solutions. And the big questions: What am I ready to lose? What is the price I will pay for that? And what am I ready to change? The tip I would give people? Be what you want to be, but do it.
What are your plans for 2018?
I have quite a few projects. I did a big expedition in Antarctica in March. I will do seven marathons in seven days here in Catalonia in May. We will invite a lot of people to come with us to run, and Nicole Rivera and I will run the marathons in seven days for the environment. It’s connected with a European project called “Let’s clean Europe”.
Sustainable projects are important?
That’s my real challenge for this year, to go one step forward on my commitment to sustainability. Loving nature is not using nature. Loving nature is looking after it and fighting for it. This year I want to put more into that. I think that I have some visibility, some credibility, and I’m a radical. I decided that in 2004 because I realised I was being a liar, I wasn’t being sincere with myself or society. On Sunday, when I was in the mountains, I said I love mountains and nature. But on Monday, when I was going to work, I didn’t care about that. I decided to put together the values of what I thought on Sunday and what I did on Monday, metaphorically speaking. My life had to be connected to my values. So I decided I would never walk on a thing that damaged nature. Do you want your kids to be proud of you or just have a comfortable life? I think it’s very easy to make connections. If you do good things, you are conscious of the bad things. You must commit to being better.
If you only go for ego, For the goal, you are weak. If you are connected to the purpose, you are strongYou mustn’t say “I want to”, you have to say “I will”. But you must be realistic; you can’t do all of your wishes
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