Sunday, January 11, 2009

Viva El Fede!

Federico "el Fede" Campanini was an amazing human being. I first met him during my second season working on Rainier. Fede was one of those rare breeds of people that got along with everyone and never had a negative thought in his head. Fede loved educating people on mountain travel and was equally at home discussing broader contexts of life during breaks on the hill.

We lived together that season in Ashford under the flanks of Mount Rainier. Fede was quickly a favorite among both fellow guides and clients alike.

I remember when I was moving up to 14k camp on Denali this spring. Fede's team had just had a super long, hard day. He looked very tired, but still had that same characteristic smile creased across his sunburned, sweat encrusted face. Exhausted as he was, his true generosity and selfless nature were as present then as they ever were.

The more I climb, the more I come to appreciate the small things. Mountains like Denali are fun simply enough in the fact that you frequently run into familiar faces. When I ran into Fede on that beautiful day in May I knew it would be the last time I would see him. It never occurred to me though that it could be under such circumstances.

Fede died on Aconcagua, his home mountain, on January 7th, 2009. It is with no doubt in my mind though, that the actions which led to his death saved the lives of his clients. That's the Fede I knew and that's the Fede I will remember.

I cannot help but mourn the loss of my good friend, but likewise I choose to celebrate his life.
Like the winds and the snows of the high peaks Fede climbed, his spirit is forever a part of the mountains. For that much, I cannot help but smile.


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