On the top of Pahto, I chatted with a Mexican-American man named Julio who beat most of his grandkids to the summit. He was a joyful person with a full heart. It was the annual trip he did with his grandkids. Every year, for the last 5 years, they’ve climbed this mountain.
When chatting with Julio’s son, I learned that this trip was in honor of his grandfather, who immigrated to the states to work as a farm laborer. They spread his ashes on Pahto and go back to visit him every year. For one of them, it was their first summit.
I hung out with the group as the last couple of grandkids made it up. I lightly joined in on the teasing for their timing, but deeply respected their commitment to make it to the top. I even recieved some teasing for having the expensive gear all the white climbers had. I was “la prima Liz” and even made it into their summit photo. It was an honor for them to share this tradition with me.
My parents didn’t teach me to ski or climb, but they taught me self-efficacy. Same as Julio, who is taking his family up a mountain that his father had originally only admired from afar.
Note: I am editing this post to add that Julio was prepared for the trip even though he wasn’t a pro. They had the proper equipment for the season (although not the most expensive), he only took the grandkids that were in good shape (even though they didn’t specifically train the way mountain athletes do), they checked in with each other on the way up, planned their food and water breaks well, and they were accompanied by an experienced woman who knew the mountain well. She stayed in the back with the last grandkids. Mountains are unforgiving and planning + proper gear is super important, especially on Pahto (which is often underestimated).