How far would you take your music with you? For one artist, only the top of the world will do.
Jordi Mestre is on a mission to combine his love for music and the mountains – successfully causing a stir in the Catalonian region.
Earlier this year, the professional musician strapped on his MONO Vertigo and reached the summit of Tuc de Mulleres (3010m) where he performed his music against a backdrop of the Pyrenees.
We talk to this inspirational musician to find out what inspired him to take on this feat and what’s next for the adventurer.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Lleida, a small town located in the west of Catalonia, two hours away from my favorite mountains in the Pyrenees.
I started playing classical guitar when I was 14, and soon I started to become interested in the electric guitar. My parents gave me my first electric guitar and shortly after that, I started playing in my first band with classmates, first motivated by rock music and especially 90s grunge.
I always knew that I wanted to be a professional guitarist and make a living from music, and I consider myself lucky for that. At the age of 17 after finishing school, I moved to Barcelona, where I studied to become a sound technician.
At that time, I also started my musical training at one of the most prestigious modern music schools in Catalonia, Taller de Músics. That’s where my interest in African American music awoke. I became especially interested in jazz musicians such as Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Jimmy Smith, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock… their music became part of my daily life. Finally I did my higher studies (university degree) in jazz instrumental music and modern music at ESEM Taller de Músics in Barcelona.
Thanks to the help of great masters and prestigious musicians, I achieved my goal of becoming a professional guitarist, combining gigs with musical education as a teacher in various music schools.
How did you come to love mountain climbing?
Since I was little, I have always spent all my holidays in the mountains. My father is in love with the mountains and he passed that passion on to me. As I grew up, I experienced and learned different sports and disciplines related to the mountains.
I have been skiing and mountaineering since I was 5 years old, but I didn’t get started in freeride mountain biking and randonnée skiing until 6 years ago. Skiing freely around the mountains and outside the resorts makes me feel free and allows me to perceive the true wild nature that mountains give me.
The idea for the project originated a long time ago in summer, while I was on one of my 10-day hiking trails. I carried a ukulele to play on top of the peaks, and later I just thought: “Why not an electric guitar? What will the experience be like?” I did some research and saw that no one had ever done anything like that.
After my first experience I now know what it’s like… it’s so freaking difficult, don’t try it!
But, really, it’s truly fantastic.
What are some of the challenges of mountain climbing with a guitar?
Well, as you can imagine, climbing up high mountains covered with snow and an electric guitar on your back is no easy task. There are many factors to consider, mainly carrying a lot of weight on your back while trying to be comfortable and looking after the safety of your instrument.
MONO’s Vertigo guitar case was the only one that made this possible. The Vertigo allows the guitar to be safe from bumps and possible falls and sometimes gives me a lightness and comfort that no other brand offered me. In addition, this case is weatherproof and keeps the guitar safe from inclement weather and snow humidity.
How has the response been to the Soul Mountain project?
The first ascent did not was not sponsored by any companies nor any means of distribution, but still, many media outlets in my country have shown interest in it. Soul Mountain has appeared on major television channels at times with typically high audience figures.
The response from people has been fantastic. I think people have understood why I created Soul Mountain. Not just to do something crazy, but for the desire of merging two disciplines, art and nature in a way never done before.
Best of all, it has created a lot of anticipation and that makes me really look forward to the next climb. The new song I have prepared is completely different from the previous one and I think it will not leave anyone indifferent.
The next goal is for the project to reach an international audience, beyond my borders. I would like Soul Mountain to take me through the mountains around the world. I have never put barriers to my dreams.
What mountain do you plan to climb next?
We are considering two options at the moment, both very exciting and a bit more technically challenging than the first one.
Punta Alta de Comalesbienes (3014m), also in the Lleida area of the Pyrenees, is a very rocky peak with narrow sections that have deep drops on both sides. It is very exciting to ski down this one, as it has steep slopes and tight descent lines between rocks.
The other one is Montarto in the Aran Valley. This is one of the first peaks I ever climbed, back when I was 6 years old. We are planning to go up through an exposed edge using ropes, which will give us spectacular pictures. Some of the descent will be done rappelling down to reach the north face, followed by a very technical skiing section.
Watch the documented climb here:
Find out more about Jordi Mestre and the Soul Mountain project at: www.soulmountain.cat
All photography by Jordi Rulló, the audio and visual producer for the Soul Mountain project.