When I was a young boy, I climbed everything in sight: trees, walls, churches, buildings, you name it. My mom, who was loving and wise, enrolled me in a mountaineering club, so I could give my passion a proper outlet.
I started trekking, exploring caves and finally at 14 years of age, I reached my first important summit, Iztaccíhuatl or the “Sleeping Woman”, this beautiful volcano of 17,400 feet, that guards the Valley of Mexico.
Then and there, I promised myself that one day I was going to conquer Mount Everest, a promise that took me 20 years to fulfill, being the first Mexican and Latin American to achieve this dream. After Everest, I also successfully completed at the first attempt the Seven Summits or Grand Slam, climbing the highest peak in every continent, again, being the first Latin American.
Climbing is a passion in my life, but not the only one. I also love scuba diving and mixing both took me to Licancabur volcano in the north of Chile, that harbors the highest lagoon in the world at 19,000 feet, achieving a world record that involves climbing and then scuba diving where you face opposite pressures. In that nearly frozen lagoon, my breathing system stopped working and I was technically dead for over a minute.
This is not the first time I have seen death’s ugly face close to mine. Kilimanjaro nearly took my life, as I decided to climb by the Heim’s glacier, a steep and dangerous icy route now disappeared, on which I perched for 35 hours. Everest itself nearly took me on my descent, and K2 left me the saddest memory, as I saw my partner Adrian falling to his death, unable to help.
Maybe because I have been living dangerously, I respect life very much and try to squeeze out the last drop of happiness every day. Sir Edmund Hillary, first man to conquer Mount Everest and my childhood hero, once said that the hardest Everest to climb is our daily one. He was so right! I am facing a new Everest teaching Spanish for the first time, trying to instill in these young lives the love and passion for a beautiful melodic language that could open the door of wonderful cultures and civilizations.
I am blessed because I have a wonderful team. No one achieves anything on their own. I had the best team possible during my four years in Quest Sped FHS, and now I have found a new home in World Languages with my amazing new partners. Borrowing Isaac Newton’s words, I always remember that if I can see far it is because I am standing on the shoulders of giants. And in Friendswood ISD, there are so many that have allowed me to achieve new heights.
In the end, one may think that climbing is not going to solve the world’s problems, or meaningfully contribute to people’s lives. For me, mountains are like staircases that take me closer to God and I have seen His hand in every snowy summit, with His hand tracing sunrises, valleys, rivers, oceans, and deserts, giving us nature, His greatest gift.
- Ricardo Torres, FHS Spanish I and Spanish II