Five countries, six weeks, eleven thousand kilometres. That is the road trip that awaits David Banman of Steinbach and his father Bob.
David and his friend Adam MacDonald have conquered several mountain climbs in recent years. Banman admits most of the stories they take back from their adventures were gathered from the people they met and their experiences along the way. That is why the decision was made that the next adventure would be a road trip; only this time it will include only Banman and his father.
The journey begins Christmas Day in Cartagena, Colombia. It ends approximately 42 days later in southern Argentina. Banman says they will drive through five countries and his goal is to climb one mountain in each country.
"They will all be a little bit different," explains Banman. "Some will be involving rocks, some will be glaciers, and some will just be kind of just the basic high altitude trek, so I should get a lot of variety that way."
Father and son will separate for the climbs. The senior Banman will probably do some relaxing while his son is thousands of feet above. But he says there will be a lot of opportunity for his father to do some hiking.
"They have some beautiful lakes and beautiful hills that you can access rather easy without having to strap on some climbing gear to make it work," says Banman. "I think he's kind of got it planned out what he wants to do and he'll definitely be kept busy."
As mentioned, the climbs will vary in duration. Banman says the longest one will stretch to four nights and see them climb over a mountain pass and on to the second largest ice cap glacier in the world. Most of the other climbs will be done in one long day or possibly two nights.
The Banmans will be driving a 2002 Nissan Pathfinder as they manoeuvre their way south. And in fact, that vehicle is already waiting for them in Colombia. Banman says they did some research to determine which vehicle they could purchase in Manitoba that would have parts easily found in South America. It came down to either an early 2000 model Pathfinder or a Toyota 4Runner. They purchased the Pathfinder in Winnipeg in March and drove it down to Texas just recently in order to have it shipped to Colombia.
Banman says once their travels are over, they hope to sell the vehicle in South America. However, he realizes this will be difficult because of rules against selling imported vehicles. Banman says they have a few contacts at one of the duty free ports and are hoping to find an interested buyer. In the event this doesn't work out, he says they know of a couple of charities they could donate the vehicle to.
According to Banman, they have left a lot of flexibility in their itinerary. He says there are three or four different points which they absolutely must hit in order to make his climbs. There are also some transportation issues in some areas because of gravel roads being inaccessible. For that reason they will need to load their car aboard a ferry.
Banman says there are two things he is most looking forward to. One of them will be in Ecuador where one of the mountains he was supposed to climb began erupting about two months ago. It is still erupting and Banman says he looks forward to getting right up close to see it. He says he is also very interested to go to Patagonia and see the ice cap.
"They say it's one of the most desolate places on earth but one of the most beautiful as well," he says. "I'm intrigued."
To follow the Banmans on their journey, click on their blog.