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&;There is a lack of scouts, and those that exist should be given more importance.&;

The brothers Eneko (1974, Vitoria) and Iker Pou (1977, Vitoria) are two of the most renowned climbers, mountaineers and explorers in our country. To their credit they have challenges such as the 7 walls 7 continents or the TNF 4 Elements, in which they have opened new climbing routes on walls that, at first glance, would take the breath away from the most common of mortals. Despite having climbed some of the most difficult walls in the world, they assure that &;there is still much to explore and discover&;.

You have done more than 42,000 climbs in some 60 countries. What do you have left to do?

We still have a lot of things to do, at the mountain level, and even at the level of great adventures! It&;s true that the planet Earth is pretty well explored, there are quite a few things mapped. But at the mountain level, in the Himalayas alone there must still be about 800 virgin summits of 6,000 meters, and about 200 of 7,000 meters. In other words, there are still a lot of things to be done. In the end, as the Basque mountaineer Alberto Iñurrategi said a few years ago, maybe now we have to dedicate ourselves to the new mountains.

What did he mean?

To those mountains that are smaller than the eight-thousanders, but obviously more difficult. Just so people understand, climbing an eight-thousander by the normal route today, at the level of achievement, may not even be a Catalan record for the 100 meters or the marathon. However, doing a smaller technical mountain by a difficult route, well, it can probably be equated to a marathon world record. It is difficult to explain to people who are not involved in this, but the vanguard right now is not in certain things and it is in others much more technical and difficult.

Of all the races you have done, is there one that has marked you in particular?

It&;s complicated, Iker and I have done many things and we continue to do many more throughout the year. But what has marked us especially, surely the end of the project &;7 walls, 7 continents&;, opening a new route in Antarctica. A route that we did in 2007 and that has not been repeated.

Any other special one?

Probably the one we did to Baffin Island, in Canada, in 2012, a super powerful expedition in which survival was a very important part. It was an inhospitable, dangerous place, apart from the climbing, with polar bears&;. It was a very complicated place. And then maybe I would also choose Cerro Torre, in Patagonia, a summit that we had been chasing since we were kids and that we reached in 2013.

What is your next project?

Now we are thinking about a double, like last year, when we did an expedition to the Andes and the Himalayas. Probably for 2024 we will try to open a new 6,000-meter mountain route in the Andes, there are still many beautiful things to do, and then we will go to the Himalayas to try to open a new very complicated route on a 7,000-meter mountain.

Your recent ascent in the Peruvian Andes had considerable media coverage. Do you think that appearing more in the media is something that is missing in the climbing world?

Climbing and mountaineering is very important in central Europe, as well as in certain places in the United States such as Colorado, Wyoming or Montana. In our country it is a bit more exotic? Yes, it is in the media, perhaps unfortunately mainly because of tragedies. Although it is true that it is starting to come out because of the achievements. So it&;s up to us professionals, both mountaineers and the media, to do the good work of explaining what our activity really is.

How do you see climbing and mountaineering today?

Incredible things are being done, progress continues to be made. If I compare it with what was done a few years ago, today the level of sport is spectacular. Now an athlete is much stronger than before: better training, better nutrition, everything is noticeable. Perhaps in the mountain world, what has not grown is the level of exploration. We lived a golden age in the 19th and early 20th centuries with the polar explorations, and later with the conquest of the 14 eight-thousanders. Then we have suffered a stagnation that has based the activity more on commercial and marketing than on the activity itself.

We still talk about the same feats and the same routes.

And it cannot be that they still want to do and comment on the routes that were conquered in the fifties and sixties, with less means than we have today. That is where we have stagnated, I believe that we have failed, above all, in communication. We continue to give importance to activities that are no longer of any importance, and great activities continue to go unnoticed in the mountains, a little smaller ones that are very difficult to carry out. And these are practically unseen. So, we have failed in something, probably in communication. But, as far as the activity itself is concerned, there are young people with this current sporting level that is superior to that of a few years ago and they are doing spectacular things.

Where do you think the sector is heading?

Right now everyone goes to the mountains, from those who go mushroom picking to those who go trail running, hiking or climbing, there are a lot of people. And the brands have been very good at selling the idea that everyone can be a great athlete. So, in the end, that generates sales. But, in the mountain world, nowadays, practically nobody knows what is high level activity and what is not high level, because there are so many things that nobody is able to discern them.

But those of you who are inside do see it?

Yes, and it&;s the same as always. Those who are at the top are the same because, in the end, a good technical climber, capable of ascending or opening a new route or a mountain of six, seven or eight thousand meters is difficult and there are only two of them, so to speak. You need strength, to be a very good climber and in addition to all this to be a very good alpinist and to be a very good survivor to move in a mountain terrain where, if you make mistakes, it is easy to die. A person with these characteristics requires many years of experience and activity. That&;s why, up there, there are very few, and those of us who are inside know who they are. We know which people are really contributing with very innovative things&; but that doesn&;t reach the general public. The general public no longer knows if these people are at the forefront or not, and that&;s a shame. But if you follow the activity you will realize which people are blazing trails and which people are not blazing trails.

For example?

In Catalonia, without going any further, you have great names in climbing and mountaineering such as Marc Toralles, Bru Busom, Roger Cararach, Silvia Vidal, Jordi Corominas, Oriol Varo, among others. And if we go outside, there are many others!

All of them doing things that had not been done until now.

Exactly! Iker and I compare it to art. For example, there may be thirty people in the world capable of making a copy of a Van Gogh or a Picasso, but there is only one original and authentic painting. By this I mean that, in the end, in the mountain there must also be an innovation, an avant-garde.

So, is there a lack of explorers?

Of course there is a lack of explorers, and those that exist should at least be given a little more importance. And we should not talk so much about people who are not really contributing to the mountain world, repeating routes that were opened in the fifties and sixties.

Recently, in another interview, you said that &;the future of the mountain as we have known it is more in danger than ever&;.

Of course, due to the importance of the commercial aspect, the mountain is not in the same place as it was twenty years ago. Now much more mountain equipment is sold, and of course it&;s in the brands&; interest to keep selling because they have much more competition. That leads us to have to tell a story on Instagram or Facebook every day. And it seems like every day there&;s a great adventure. And every day it&;s impossible to have a great adventure. We are more in danger than ever, because the commercial part is prevailing over the authentic part, the part of doing real activity.

The one who knows how to sell, gets the sponsorships&;

That is&; In our case, we have been innovating practically all our life, we have been opening ways of difficulty all over the world for twenty years. So, the people who emulate us or the people who we are trying to contribute at that level, do not have the support of brands or institutional support because they do not appear in the media, they are not famous people. As they are not famous people, they do not have followers in social networks. This is a fish that bites its own tail and can cause our activity to fall directly. That&;s why we said that the activity is in danger, because they stop supporting people who do open channels and who do generate wealth to our sport.

And whose responsibility is this?

The athletes themselves, who must communicate with credibility. We are professionals, and for twenty years we have always separated our profession and our communication from the values of the mountain. That is, in an Instagram post we put the brands that sponsor us, but we do not communicate garbage, we communicate mountain and real values: desire to excel, companionship, all these things that make us much bigger in the world of the mountain.