With a smile we will go further than with a bad gesture

Days before the honor kick in San Mamés, some friends told me that they had thought about what it feels like down there, on the grass, in the green of the Cathedral.

Now, after the post-match hangover, I can tell you about my experience. I will not deny that the previous days I was very nervous. I was quite tense and thought at every moment: What am I doing there! After Athletic's bad run of results in the league, people will want to watch the game, not me kicking a ball with great difficulty. Hopefully I don't stumble or hit someone with the ball as occasionally happens. And, if I slip and am remembered for it?

By the way, speaking of being recorded, there in the middle of the field many things crossed my mind. Your heart beats vigorously and speeds up when you approach the stairs that lead to the pitch. It was just at that moment when countless stories woke up in me. Anyone who knows me well knows that my head is always working, houghts mix with feelings.

It is in one of those moments, in which 3 different people with three different lives run through my head. They did not get to know each other, but, I am sure, they have a lot in common.

Thanks to the Matia Foundation, I was able to meet Boni, such a good man that, not to bother, he didn't even open his mouth, but he always gave you a smile. When I last saw Boni at the Rezola residence and he hugged me, I felt such kindness and gratitude in that gesture that I will never forget it. That man was so loved among Matia's staff, that just by looking at people you could perceive the affection they professed for him, as much as in the last words he said to me: "With friends like you at the end of the world, without lose the smile.

Last Friday after enjoying a beautiful welcome, I went through one of those places that spreads happiness naturally. In this case, it is the Donosti Aquarium that has always made me experience very special moments. I remember Xabi and Ariane with special affection in the showings of the last films in which we have participated. Ariane always gave her smile, both to the boys and girls when they celebrated their birthdays, and to us when she let us eat what the childs had not finished. She was one of those very special people who had everything to give to others, and in the end, she didn't even leave time for herself. He never lost his smile.

And finally, a few days ago I read in the media that Juanjo, a shopkeeper who sold eggs and honey on Tívoli street in Bilbao, had died. Neighbors and customers from the area had come to pay tribute to him by lighting candles and saying goodbye with messages or drawings full of tenderness. I didn't know Juanjo, but surely, like Boni and Ariane, he would be one of those people with an affable character.

In short, it does not matter if you are a supermarket cashier, street sweeper, professional footballer, bricklayer or mountaineer. Whatever your profession, above all be a good person and remember that with a smile you will go further than with a bad gesture.

And yes, between beat and beat my first time in San Mamés also came to mind, as well as friends and family who are no longer there. It is a moment in which you feel infinite gratitude towards so many people who are always there when you need them. Thank you very much, sincerely.

However, I would like that instead of remembering Alex Txikon kicking the ball or as the mountaineer of the 8000, they would simply remember me as Alex, a person who tries to never lose his smile and enthusiasm and as a person who strives every day, in doing good without looking at who, just like Boni, Ariane and Juanjo did.

There is no better gift than their smile and the sparkle in their eyes

Everyone, absolutely everyone, needs help at some point in their lives. Throughout my existence I have had the pleasure of meeting many people, each with their own story. Very hard stories. Stories that make you think. I promise you, that many of these testimonies have given me goosebumps, and have made me shed more than one tear... I am not exaggerating. As much as I want to, I can't even imagine what many of them have gone through. Thanks to everything I have seen and heard, I have realized how important it is to help, to collaborate, because with very little, we can change everything.

So, after reaching the top of Manaslu and a few days of rest in Kathmandu -although to tell the truth, we slept little, but we did recover from the great effort we had made-, we decided to return to the Base Camp to meet again with the residents of Samagaun. These people always made us feel very welcome and lend us a hand seems to me the least we can do.

On our return to the CB of Manaslu we were lucky to be in very good company, with friends. Specifically, among our group of 13 friends, there were 7 sanitarians (2 doctors and 5 nurses). During their stay they have been seeing patients and among all of us we have acquired some materials that are so useful to the local population. Medication, hygiene products... and two thermal beds. Yes, yes, you read that right... thermal beds, that is, some portable incubators that we have installed in Okjaldhunga Patle and Samagaun. Amazing.

Said like that, it sounds a bit strange, but I will put you in context. It is well known that technology is the key in terms of health advances, but unfortunately, it is very expensive, and therefore it is far from the economic possibilities of developing countries. What's more, among all those stories that I have told you before, there was one that stuck in my mind. Noa, a 33-year-old Nepali woman, told me with tears in her eyes that, in her village, premature babies fit into a shoebox or an empty pumpkin… Really sad. A shoebox or a pumpkin... that is for them what we know here as a conventional incubator, whose price can go up to 60,000 euros.

In the face of this reality, two young engineers from " Medicina abierta al mundo" set out and developed an accessible, open source and low-cost neonatal crib. Their work consists, among other things, of creating microchips that are implanted in the crib and with which they generate optimal humidity, light, oxygen and temperature conditions so that when the baby is born they can rest in ideal conditions. And believe me, in these remote rural areas, having these resources, especially in winter, can save (many) lives...

But here comes the best... This crib is foldable, has the size of a suitcase, weighs approximately 23 kilos and costs around 350 euros... The forerunners of this invention, convinced that the place of birth should not condition the possibilities of a newborn to get ahead, they have used simple materials and technologies so that it can be acquired and replicated anywhere in the world. In fact, if something goes wrong, an engineer can connect from Spain with the incubator's microchip and fix breakdowns and technical problems online. What's more, all the design and assembly information is shared on the internet so that whoever may need this product can manufacture it by their own means. Really, an invention!

But the merit is not his alone. Together with the NGO “Ayuda a contenedores” (which financially manage the project), and “Salesianos Pamplona” (who collaborate by designing the material through a 3D machine) they form the perfect trio. A trio that contributes their time and knowledge altruistically and that make possible this great project that continues to grow and save the lives of the little ones.

It is because of people like these that I still have faith in the human being... I think there are no words in the world to thank you for your work. And it is not easy to find people whose purpose is not to manufacture and sell, but to create and share their knowledge altruistically with the sole purpose of saving lives.

I promise, there is no money in the world that pays for those smiles, those looks of satisfaction and gratitude that the Nepalese families have given us when we have delivered all this material. That is the best memory that I take from this trip, without a doubt. An image that will always stay in my retina.

THANK YOU wholeheartedly

Not even know where to start…

Since I embarked on the winter expeditions, there have been many experiences, thousands of thoughts that have crossed my mind. But everything has fallen short after the summit of Manaslu on January 6, 2023. I think I have never had so many feelings together at the same time: joy, excitement, fear, nerves... They say that there are 26 feelings that you should experience at some point in time. life. I have experienced them in just two weeks.

On December 26, we set foot on the CB of Manaslu and 11 days later, we found ourselves at the top, at the highest point of the eighth highest mountain on the planet. I couldn't believe it, I had made the challenge that I had set myself in 2021 come true, I have lost count of the times I had imagined that moment, and finally, it has come true.

But it has not been easy. It has been one of the toughest, most demanding, and most dangerous climbs of my entire professional career. I've had a bad time, very bad to be honest, now I feel a certain emptiness, it's been three winters working on this project.

Now that I am safe and sound, rested and with a clearer mind, I would like to share with all of you my latest experience in the Himalayas. I'll try to be as brief as possible, I promise.

As you know, on December 26 we launched the Winter Summits project. Thanks to the two previous experiences we were able to see the terrain first hand. But that didn't stop us from spending hours and hours thinking about it, analyzing the best strategy. The only thing that was clear to us was that the ascent had to be as fast as possible to avoid any risk of frostbite. After a couple of rotations in height, the perfect moment has come. Despite the cold (we came to suffer temperatures as low as -50º) and the strong wind, it seemed that the weather was going to improve the next few days. We did not doubt it, we could not miss the opportunity. It was either now or never.

So on January 4, at 8:00 a.m., we took all the necessary material and put our backpacks on our backs. We went from Base Camp to Camp 1 and from 1 to 2. And here I make a point to comment that this section was, without a doubt, one of the most complicated I have done in my life. And considering the amount of meters that I have climbed in the Himalayas during all these years... Really, it was very hard, very complicated, it was very, very dangerous, much more than I thought...

And, having said this, I continue. We camped, spent the night and on January 5 we went from C2 to C3. Between the excitement, the nerves, the cold and the wind, we couldn't sleep a wink. But it didn't matter, so at 11:00 p.m., we left for the summit. And the rest... is history. 10 and a half hours later, that is, at 9:30 a.m. (local time) Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Chhapel Sherpa, Gelu Sherpa, Maila Sherpa, Mantere Lama Sherpa, Gamje Babu Sherpa and I received the best gift from the Three Wise Men, a gift he had been waiting for 3 years. We were at the top, at the summit, at the highest point of Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world. It is said soon...

But everything that goes up comes down, and we had to descend, we had to return to BC, because, as I always say, and I will never tire of repeating it... the true peak is achieved when the entire team returns safely to Base Camp. Once again, said and done. We began descending, little by little, without a doubt, this wasthe most difficult part of the challenge. And finally, at 6:00 p.m. we arrived at the Base Camp. Shattered, smashed. And it is that in less than 60 hours we had achieved the entire challenge. I was unable to assume what we had achieved.

I do not want to say goodbye without first highlighting the Polish expedition of 1984. All my respects to those climbers who, without the help of new technologies, managed to crown Manaslu. They had enormous merit. Nor do I want to forget about Simone Moro. Buddy, thank you for descending practically from C2 to CB alone, because as you commented, although you had enough strength to continue ascending, you considered that you could hinder the group when descending”.

Finally... I want to congratulate and thank all the people who have supported me during my career: family, friends, colleagues, clubs, mountain federations, sponsors... Without you this dream would never have come true.

THANK YOU wholeheartedly