Have you ever wondered what it sounds like in the Andes Mountains? The scuttling of an armadillo, whipping winds and melodic birdsong. Soothing. When top rock climbers Emily Harrington, Nina Williams, Matty Hong and Jacopo Larcher packed their rucksacks, slung on their The North Face essentials and headed to Pitamurca, Peru, for a five-week expedition, what ensued was a climbing expedition the foursome would never forget.
“The rush mostly came from the lack of oxygen climbing between 13,000 and 15,000 ft elevation,” says outdoor expert Matty Hong. “But the objective of the trip was to develop sport climbing, something I have been doing for many years now.” Scaling heights from Ch’acco Huayllascca (not for the faint-hearted) and caught in intermittent blizzards, it was a true test of their endurance and dedication.
“Each trip has a handful of moments that scare me, Peru offered a few which stand out,” continues Hong. “Climbing off into the unknown without much room for error or a way to back off was committing and frightening but extremely rewarding.”
This adventure is not only one for the books, it now makes up one segment of a nine-chapter sonic project created by Sonos and The North Face that’s available for your listening pleasure on Sonos Radio. Hosted on the station’s show titled Never Stop Exploring, the nine-minute meditative soundscape is composed of field recordings, experiences, memories and observations made during the group’s Peruvian journey.
Enlisting the expertise of sound designer and composer Mikael Jorgensen, the athletes worked closely to create an environmental composition that transports you to the wilderness, especially when played through your immersive Sonos system. “The track leans heavily on the athletes’ interview footage that I sampled, chopped up and I created rhythmic textures that retain a bit of the personality of each of the four climbers,” says Jorgensen.
“Due to the high elevation, there was not a lot besides wind and birds that could be heard,” adds Hong. “But it was actually really peaceful to be in an area so remote.”
Thinking about making your first ascent? Here’s some sound advice before you get started. “Take it slow and practice what you can before you leave,” says Hong. “Have fun, but most importantly be safe.”