You may have heard that we are losing one of our chilled Chilenos (we still get to keep the other) so as Fernando Romero prepares to move on to a new home in Istanbul we take the chance to get an idea of what makes him tick and how the great outdoors claimed him as its own.

Although from Chile, Fernando grew up in Canada when his family moved there after the Pinochet dictatorship took power in his home country. 

“We came to Canada in 1975, arriving on Christmas day.  There was this big fat guy dressed in red handing out presents and that tradition didn’t really exist in Chile so it was all a bit bizarre for us. We’d left home, and there we were landing in two foot of snow, with a fat present guy. We lived in a small town and you did everything outdoors or else you did nothing. There were hills, a mountain, a massive lake, rivers and creeks and so we were out skiing, climbing, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and fishing.  We literally grew up playing in the woods.

Then there was this mountain, Mount Pope.  I met a couple of guys, a Scot and a South African doctor and they showed me climbing when I was about 21.  After that one thing led to another and I’ve been in climbing for 20 years and more – with the occasional forced break for, you know, life, and kids.”

Fernando has done a bit of time in ‘normal’ indoor jobs and when living in Vancouver most of his climbing was indoor so when he and his lady Amber decided to move to Saigon a couple of years ago the first thing he did was google climbing walls.  “So I came here to Push and hey, it was Beerfest. I met Josh and Paul, and here I am.”

But he won’t be here for much longer. Fernando and his little tribe move on in a couple of months to savour Istanbul, the meeting point of Europe and Asia.

“Here in Saigon you’re close to four or five countries but with Istanbul you have the gateway between two continents so the opportunities are amazing plus there are hills and hikes to do, I’ll be doing a lot more road biking and there are ski resorts.”

It’s not all good news though; “unfortunately I’ll be doing a lot less climbing as there only two bouldering gyms in the whole of Istanbul and absolutely no top roping so that’s going to be a bit of a challenge.  There is a small club though that does trips to outdoor climbing areas but I’m worried I’m going to get chubby – I mean think the baklava, the bread, the barbecues….”

We’re missing him already.  If you see Fernando in the gym then take a moment to wish him,  Amber, Santi (Santiago), and Sofia all the best for their fantastic onward adventure in Istanbul.

Words by Steve Shipside.