Isabel Suppe’ is a high altitude climber.
In 2010 she was climbing Ala Izquierda in Bolivia with Peter Wiesenekker. He slipped, and both climbers fell 1,100 feet to the bottom of the face.
Suppe’ survived. She spent two days and a night dragging her severely injured body to the other side of the glacier. She was eventually rescued and had to undergo ten complicated surgeries to save her right foot.
“I decided to continue. To keep on dragging myself over the ice, maybe for nothing,” Suppe’ said. “So as to at least not to die without having fought to the last; to have a chance as tiny as it may be to live.”
She detailed her experience in the book “Starry Night”, which was a finalist of the 2011 Desnivel Award for literature. The book was originally published in Spanish, but is now available in English. The book was also shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize for outstanding contributions to outdoor literature.
Suppe’ is now bicycling from Washington State to Colorado. She will stop in Moab on Monday, Nov. 25 to relate her story at the Grand County Public Library.
Alpinist Magazine published the first English excerpt from the book.
“A daring reimagination of the typical disaster narrative, ‘Starry Night’ portrays a world in which pain and unsettling beauty become inextricably intertwined,” said Kate Ives, editor of Alpinist.
Suppe’ has spent most of her adult life climbing the Andes, where she specializes on high altitude and technical climbs.
She was told after her fall that she would never walk normally again, let alone climb. She was also told by doctors that she would not be able to return to high altitudes.
“Since I had been climbing with my broken foot dangling in the air only three weeks after the accident, I never quite believed it,” she said.
Nine months later she became the first woman to solo-climb Nevado the Cachi, one of the highest and most solitary peaks in the Andes.
In July 2011, exactly one year after the accident, Robert Rauch and opened a new route for Suppe’, who was still on crutches. Its name: “The birthday of the broken leg.”
“It is an extremely difficult vertical ice route in Bolivia, in honor of all those that dare to dream despite the probabilities of science,” Suppe’ said.
Suppe’ left the crutches at the base of the climb.
“If I can climb with just one foot, I will only climb better once I can use both again,” Suppe’ wrote in “Starry Night.”