22 08 2012
My name is Isabel Suppé and I´m a climber, a writer and a motivational speaker of German origin and Argentine heart. I´ve spent most my adult life climbing in the Andes where I specialise in high altitude and technical faces.
In July 2010 I was climbing with my climbing partner Peter Wiesenekker when he slipped on a patch of ice, blowing out our anchorage points and pulling me down with me. We fell more than 1,000 feet off Ala Izquierda del Condoriri’s south-east face in the Bolivian Andes. After spending the next two days crawling with a severely exposed fracture over the ice at 16,000 feet above sea-level, I was finally rescued, unfortunately it was too later for Peter who died of hypothermia whilst I was searching for help.
Soon after I was told that I would never walk normally again or climb.
Doctors also warned me that after having undergone 10 very complex surgeries I would not be able to return to high altitude. Since I had been climbing with my broken foot dangling in the air only 3 weeks after the accident, I didn’t quite believe this. Nine month later I became the first woman to solo-climb Nevado the Cachi, one of the highest and most solitary peaks in the Andes. In July 2011, exactly one year after the accident, Robert Rauch and I opened a new route on crutches. “The birthday of the broken leg” is an extremely difficult vertical ice route in Bolivia, in honour of all those that dare to dream despite the probabilities of science.
Since my ankle joint has been deteriorating at a devastating speed, I was later on advised to cycle as much as possible and undergo more surgeries in Spain. I therefore borrowed my German grandmother’s bike and solemnly named it “Rocinante,” after Don Quijote´s noble horse. On Rocinante I then crossed the Alps, the Pyrenees, Switzerland, France and Northern Spain in the middle of winter so I could have surgery. Later on I continued to the south, crossed over to Africa, climbed Morocco´s highest mountain and ended my journey in the Sahara desert.
Unfortunately the surgeries in Spain did not succeed in restoring my ankle joint, so I decided to attempt a highly complex form of bone transplantation, a surgery that is only done in the USA. And of course, my insurance company did not cover it… bank robbery? Definitely not a good solution for a person unable to run from the cops. I finally decided that fundraising was the way to go.
My next crusade against the impossible shall lead me from Monterey, California, in honor of John Steinbeck, all the way to Ramapo College of New Jersey, my Alma Mater on the other side of the country.
My journey in the quest for health is also going to be a journey of discovery and exploration that will lead me across a country that I had not visited in ten years and that has undergone very important changes.
One major premise of travels with Rocinante is that my adventure is meant to be enjoyed. As a climber I could not ride across this diverse wonderland of nature without visiting its rocks as well as the national parks close to my route.
My book, Starry Night, tells the story of my accident and recently it was a finalist for the prestigious Desnivel Award for Literature in Spain an has received a special mention by the jury.
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