Epic Love: Big Climb Style



I posted a few days ago about wunderkind Alex Honnold and his solo ascents sans ropes.

I thought that was the only post I wanted to write on behalf of the ReelRockTours.

Changed my mind. And, quite honestly, there would be a perfect place in hell for me by not mentioning the  Nat Geo presentation of Sean Leary’s moving tribute to the memory of his lover and fellow climber, Roberta Nunes.

This Nat Geo presentation was the complete opposite of their portrayal of Honnold which highlighted technical eye candy and offbeat humor. The tribute to Roberta Nunes enters the realm of almost folkloric proportions. Think Tristan and Isolde.

Both Sean Leary and Roberta Nunes were world class rock climbers.


Sean Leary made a promise to Roberta that should she ever die before Sean that Sean would spread her ashes among the mountains in Patagonia.  Several days after this somber exchange, Nunes was involved in a fatal car crash. Eerie.

What takes place following Nunes untimely passing, is nothing short of remarkable and again worthy of a Shakespearean play. After 2 years of profound grieving, Sean and two of his buddies, Renan Ozturk and Cedar Wright, screw up the courage to trek to Patagonia, forge new terrain in Roberta’s name and disperse her ashes to the blustery, robust winds of Patagonia.

French author, Muriel Barbery, writes:

How many years do we spend forgetting the passion we breathed into any activity that held a promise of pleasure? Why are we now so rarely capable of such total commitment, such elation, such flights of charming lyricism…


For Sean and his friends, the initial trip to Patagonia was replete with bad weather, low spirits and sadness. The longing Sean experienced for his climbing partner and lover was evinced painfully and transparently on his face. With inclement weather, the men were stuck to bouldering and short climbs near their base.

Weeks passed. Still no opening in the weather.

And, with a day left to their trip, an opening in the weather presented itself. I cannot explain how they scaled this virgin rock in short order; but, they did. From Sender Films’s Blog:

But then the weather and the climbers pulled through. As the clouds held back and the sun shone bright over two days, Cedar and Renan sent a killer first ascent on Mochito. Then Stanley wingsuited from the summit of El Mocho, one of the few BASE jumps anyone has done in the range. As the chute opened, Roberta’s ashes were released into the mountains. The thermals almost blew Stanley back to Chalten, but the Andean condors guided him to safety. He stuck it. We stuck it.

Check out KempleMedia for crushing photos of this act of beauty.

Sean base jumped from the rock’s peak releasing Nunes’ ashes to elements. A flight of charming lyricism.

Ok. I know no one who would do this for me (except maybe my crazy mother). I share this story as a testimony to commitment and perseverance. There are no words to duly underscore the power of this love, a love forged in stone.

As many of us, often remark how unexceptional our lives have become, I defer you to Sean and Roberta. Take note and live fully.

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