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It pains me to bring you a sad news, friends. Summit Post has lost a valuable friend. Paulo Schmidt, also known as "parofes" passed away, May 10th-2014 . Parofes had the foresight to say goodbye to all of us by posting his wedding photo captioned "If I go, please remember me by this photo." Many of you sent personal words of encouragement and wished him a full recovery, and he answered each and every comment and message. Your expression of love and support meant everything to him. He fought a hard fight against an illness that has eluded our best and most brilliant minds. Cancer may have won another round against our physical existence and taken our friend, but it did not triumph over Parofes' mind and spirit. He was courageous and strong to his last breath.
The first time we became aware of Parofes' health issues was when he posted an article captioned "The scariest moment of my life." He shared with us the most private thoughts and feelings as well as his medical condition in its minute details. He shared with us photos of happy times, sad times, scary times and somber times. He shared with us stories of his life, his travels, his ups and downs, his victories and his defeats. Parofes was straight forward, honest, humorous, intelligent, a historian, and the best friend and climbing partner anyone could ask for. Parofes loved his wife, Lilianne, and in an act of devotion he changed his last name from da Silva to Schmidt. Parofes was a humanitarian who worked long hours for an NGO and helped tens of thousands of poor and needy people. Parofes was a nature lover, a competent mountaineer and a mountain guide. Parofes was a special human being and a friend we will miss for a long time.
Born December 1, 1977, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Paulo Roberto Felipe da Silva soon took on the nick name Parofes given to him by his father. This nick name is produced by certain combination of the initials of his name. After getting married and changing his last name to Schmidt, the nick name "Parofes" did not have to change in any way. It was Paulo's wish to be called Parofes.
The early years of Parofes' life were very normal growing up with two parents and two sisters. Having an above average intelligence, he went through elementary school, high school, and eventually to a four year college and attained a degree in history. Being an independent self-assured young man, Parofes tried his hand at a number of different jobs. At the early age of 16, he delivered VHS movie videos-he called them K7 movie tapes- on his bike. His second job at the age of 17 was being a florist. He arranged flower bouquets for weddings, churches, and so on. Parofes' mother passed away shortly after he turned 18. The circumstances of his mother's passing left a huge impression on him. At the age of 19 he did night invoicing for a meat company. His next job was performing tasks as a graphic designer and editor for a printing company. He stayed at this job for nearly nine years learning many different skills especially in the financial aspects of a business.
Parofes' next job was with X3, where he headed the financial department. By this time, he had moved to Sao Paulo living with his future wife, Lilianne. Parofes' last job was to work for ACF, Assciacao Civica Feminina. ACF is a non-governmental organization to help poor and needy people. He was the general manger with 120 employees working under him. After a year, Parofes quit ACF to work as a mountain guide with Maximo Kaush and SPer pedro Hauck at "Gente De Montanha." Working with Pedro Hauck brought a turning point in Parofes' life. He claimed that everything he knew, he learned from Pedro Hauck. That claim may have been an exaggeration, but it is obvious that his friendship with Pedro Hauck expanded Parofes' life in a profound way. Another turning point in any man's life is when he meets his lifelong partner. That turning point for Parofes came when he met his wife Lilianne. Thanks to miracles of modern technology, they met on the Internet and within a short period of time they were a couple and, as we all know, they married. Fortunate for Parofes, she stayed by his side to his last breath.
Parofes and the mountainsWe have all seen the depth and breath of Parofes' contributions to Summit Post. He has 88 Mountain and Rock pages, for the most part, of the volcanos of Brazil and South America. I, for one, never knew there were so many 5000 meter and 6000+ meter volcanos in South America. It seems that in a short span of time Parofes climbed and explored so many of them. He brought back photos, videos and general information about all these mountains. He has 69 albums of his travels. Many of these albums are much more than a collection of photos. They have stories behind them that he shared with us. My favorite pages are Parofes' trip reports. He put life into his reports. They are detailed, they are funny and speak honestly of his state of mind. He talked about his victories and his defeats in an emotional and passionate way. Even though I don't speak the language, listening to him on his Youtube videos clearly delivers the kind of person that Parofes was. It's worthwhile to take a quick look at the history of Parofes' sports interests from the time of his youth.
Parofes was physically active all his life. Like most South American youths, his first sport was football, as he puts it, but I am sure he meant to say soccer, but he claimed that he did poorly at it. Next, he tried volleyball and he did extremely well. He was an attacker, he could jump high and hit hard. Much to his disappointment, he did not get the attention of the powers that be. Excellence and recognition, however, came with his mountaineering exploits. We all know about Parofes' love of nature, especially the mountains, from his articles and trip reports dating back to 2007 when he was thirty years old. The fact is that he had been an avid backpacker since the age of 18. As he wrote in his article "The first day of the rest of my life" in 2007, his outlook on life changed dramatically. Following the tragic and unnecessary death of his mother and certain personal issues, Parofes headed for Bolivia on a solo mountaineering expedition. Unbeknownst to him that there was social unrest, street demonstrations and road blocks in Cochabamba. After some harrowing experience with demonstrators who thought he was a reporter, he found himself in La Paz with two newly found friends. Long story short, Parofes climbed his first mountain summit "Zone de Cumbre, ele 4,496 meters." Parofes' life had changed forever. He was now a mountaineer and determined to take it as far and wide as he could.
Work Less, Live MoreIn his article titled "The Project, Work Less, Live More," Parofes explained how his focus on life took a 180 degree turn from work, wealth and the rat race of city life to working just enough to support his mountaineering endeavors. He found his pursuit of happiness on the mountaintops. During the next six years of his life, Parofes traveled to the Andes and climbed many volcanos including two volcanic peaks Aucanquilcha 6,176 meters and San Pedro Volcano 6, 145 meters. These two peaks had not been climbed by a Brazilian before, and he was proud to bring this great achievement for his country. It is important to mention that Aucanquilcha is an active volcano and as far as Parofes knew it had not seen another ascent by a Brazilian since. Just as if climbing these volcanos wasn't hard enough with partners, full-on gear and food, Parofes made the trip more interesting for himself. He decided to go alone, take minimal food, water and gear to climb San Pedro Volcano. He called it his "Golden Ascent." These are his own words "I'm here...reaching the summit of...San Pedro volcano, this Son fo a Bxxxx mountain, too fuxxxxx hard...but i'm getting there...last few steps. That's it...(humpf, Ahhh)...hell i'm here...that's the summit register box...boy i'm almost dead! Summit box....there's a lagoon...higher than Licancabur's lake.......the other summit active. On the back...Aucanquilcha...mountain i climbed 4 days ago. Fxxx yeah...that's it...(humpf)...it was hard...but i did it. That's not all...here's my tie...Another summit, yeah!"
We have all seen photos of Parofes wearing a tie on the summit of different mountains. To Parofes, this was not a joke. It was to deliver a message. These are his own words:
"The project photos come with a message: "For the message to be taken seriously I chose a fun approach, at each summit I got, I had to take a photo wearing a tie as a protest to long hours on cubicles working without seen the sun, the sky and some green. A protest against the people forgetting to live while going for the endless pursuit of money. Money by the way for me is the worst thing men ever invented. People kill each other for money, friendships end for money, hell, wars occur because (basically) of money!"
Between climbing mountains, writing Trip Reports, Articles, photography and writing positive comments on other members' contributions, Parofes found enough time to give us "cutouts." Then, he showed us how in his article What is cutout photography? Here are a few samples:
One of the most memorable expeditions Parofes undertook was the climb of Cotopaxi. He explained in his trip report "Third time is a charm-Brazilian persistence on Cotopaxi" his state of mind on the summit. I can't help but to wonder how many mountaineers shed tears of joy that freeze on their cheeks! I imagine, not very many! These are his own words "Finally the summit! Boris was with his clients very busy, i dropped my ice tools and went to meet him, we shook hands and hugged. After that i retreated a few meters and, obviously, i collapsed in tears for several minutes more, eight or nine i guess, just looking at the crater and its various points of fumaroles. I picked up the pieces of frozen tears on my cheeks, made a video of the summit, one of the austrians offered to do my photo of the summit and was impressed, the picture came out really good. I thanked him, with my camera in hand i did my panoramas, three. The funny thing is, when i was trying to get alone by the crater i heard Boris talking to one of his clients “look, he’s gonna cry!” ahahahahah, and i was already crying when i hugged him, i guess he didn’t notice. lol."
In 2010 Parofes traveled to Europe and climbed in the Alps including Mont Blanc the full account of which can be seen here "Mont Blanc climbing, thoughts and a lot of pain."…. What amazes me is the detail in which he remembered everything. In fact, this is a common characteristic of all of Parofes' trip reports. His honesty comes through clearly every time. But, climbing in the Alps wasn't enough by itself. Upon his return he researched and wrote an article titled "Mont Blanc, Why so many deaths." It is obvious that Parofes was much more than a climber, he was a historian who could have had much more to give than he was afforded the opportunity to do so.
Witty sense of humor
Closing thoughtsIn closing this chapter of Summit Post's history, I would like to thank all the members who gave their words of love and support during Parofes' long battle with Leukemia. Parofes brought a lot to the table here at Summit Post. His articles were comprehensive and his trip reports lively and detailed. But, his honesty and his unabashed sense of humor are what I will miss the most. He was a valuable contributor and a breath of fresh air here at Summit Post and his absence will be felt by all of us for a long time.
The following chapters are dedicated to "remembrances" by some of Parofes' Summit Post friends.
I remember when Parofes first “burst” onto SP, a new face coming from an area of the world most of us know little about. He made places I had taught my middle school students about real and come to life in front of me. New mountain names, new volcanoes, brilliant skies, unusual animals and flowers all appeared on my window to the world, SP. I don’t think anyone could ever predict what we would hear or see from Paulo when he posted. One day it was bouldering on the Altiplano and the next he would be ‘jumping for life’ on snow-covered peaks. I looked forward to his posts each day and his sense of humor; his replies often ending with his trademark: hehehe. One hospital visit, while trying to explain what SP is all about, I made the mistake of reading OUTLOUD Parofes’ advice on how to turn a simple mountain into “an interesting hiking objective” (without previewing I should add); maybe not the best choice when reading to your 84 year old mother but it did give the nurse working nearby a good laugh! He wrote seriously about high altitude living and the state of mountain climbing in Brazil and Colombia as well as the lighter side of photography: cut-out color photos. But it was an amazing honesty about his life and his dreams that drew me in. From the pain of dealing with his mother’s unnecessary death to his break from the regimented work world to live as a mountaineer; something so many on SP have dreamed of doing. He shared loving and marrying his wonderful Lilianne with us; and his tears.
Over the years I have made several friends over the internet, a few I have even actually met but Paulo, you have reached so many of us, all without ever seeing that smiling face and zest for life in person. There is a bridge I cross under every time I drive upstate and I have a tradition whenever I pass under it for those few fast seconds; I salute and I smile. My hiking heart is on that bridge, the Appalachian Trail as it crosses the interstate; a reminder that the place I am passing is special and important to me even if I never step foot on it again. So Paulo, whenever I think of or see the beautiful places that you shared with us; the snow-capped mountains, flowers, the volcanoes, and my personal favorite, the Ushuaia I will salute, yes, salute and smile and remember you.
Eric ChuI cannot hold the tears back as I write this...Paulo is someone who I have never had the opportunity to meet in person, but to whom I have felt friendship right from when we met on SummitPost soon after I joined in 2009. Paulo, in my opinion, was one of the cornerstones - and icons!! - on SP. I never ceased to admire again and again the vast task he set himself - to create a complete compendium for SummitPost of all the mountains in Brazil, something that, as far as I could observe, nobody has ever done before! The planning, traveling, and physical effort and endurance this implied I can only imagine, knowing just how big Brazil is and how many of these mountains lie in utterly remote places where already getting to the base is an adventure in itself! And the pages he wrote - each one with such a professional scrutiny, such exact and detailed information! And as a photographer, he was a true poet! The most wonderful thing for me, as I followed his work, was all the love, passion and feeling of heart that came through in everything he did! To be "dry" just wasn't his way! His articles were always precise and professional right down to the last detail, but never without his so typical wit, humor - even when things were tough, he would never fail to give a laugh or a twinkling of the eye - and his big heart!
As said above, I absolutely love his photography! Let me point out at least a couple that I find particularly extraordinary: http://www.summitpost.org/feel-its-power/774737 (one that, for me, says a lot about Paulo and his inner life), http://www.summitpost.org/great-mirror-view/792427 (this one takes my breath every time I see it), http://www.summitpost.org/and-we-have-lift-off/828698 (simply fabulous...this was Paulo - exuberant joy and love for life and boundless freedom), http://www.summitpost.org/lonely-flamingo/862267 (Paulo, the poet!).
Paulo is somebody for whom I always felt tremendous admiration...he would always push himself to the very limit, but never in a merely athletic or muscle-showing way, but always out of a genuine love and passion for nature, for the immense as well as for the beauty in the little things...He posted so many utterly exquisite photos of plants and animals as well...I don't know if I can ever get to love tarantulas as much as he did :D , but also in these pictures I always felt his soft spot, his love for all creatures on Earth. This is something that made me feel really close to him as a person.
The latest photo he posted, the one of him and Lilianne embracing each other on their wedding day, just makes me cry - why did fate have to strike so brutally and mercilessly on that wonderful couple just right after??? And Paulo fought that terrible battle so bravely and with so much manliness...and Lilianne fought together with him with the same bravery, never giving up hope that her husband's life may be saved...
Dear Paulo, you were not only one of SummitPost's most valuable, dedicated and irreplaceable members, but also a dear friend and one of SP's best members on the human side as well and one of those members I had always hoped intensely to meet soon in person. Your loss is one that leaves me filled with a big sadness...may your soul rest in peace and may we meet one day in a world better than this one!
Silvia MazzaniRainbow Bridge
Our grief will soon disappear, leaving the place to a feeling of admiration for your courage and gratitude for your inclination to communicate, even the pain and the scare. I’m sure that only few people could do it with such a spontaneity.
After I joined SP, you became soon one of the best friends I had ever met. I noticed your extraordinary way to share your sensitiveness towards the true beauty, your deep respect towards every form of natural life, your passion for climbing, hiking, photographing.
Suffering has not changed you and I wish that your courage will light up us on the way.
I don’t profess a religion, but I feel we’ll meet again, Paulo. We’ll ride the sunny crest of the most beautiful mountain ever seen, then we’ll stop to breathe the scent of the mist…
Pedro HaukIn this weekend, I traveled to São Paulo with friends to say Paulo’s last good-bye.
It was very sad, but at the same time a privilege to talk with him before him go.
I knew Paulo since 2008, just like you, by internet. He looked like to be a very enthusiastic person and it did not took too long for we match for our first mountain, here in the Serra do Mar Hills, in a monsoon day.
We did many mountains together, not only in the Serra do Mar, but also in Mantiqueira, the favorite mountain range of Parofes, and Serra Geral, in the State of Santa Catarina. The unique place in Brazil that use to snow almost all years.
Since 2010 we used to go to the city of Urubici to try to get snow in Serra Geral, but unfortunately we only got frost in these times.
Ironically, he only could see snow in Serra Geral last year, the year that snowed in all south Brazil, including the city I live, but I was working in São Paulo. He went there alone, even with his acute leukemia.
Unfortunately, we could never climb together in the Andes. In the beginning of 2014 I ascended some mountains in Argentina and Chile and I left his photo in the summit box of Llullaillaco, asking Pachamama to save him.
Paulo did not think god as the religious concept. I asked him how was he feeling about been so close to death and he said me that he was very curious in what was going to happen. It was kind of weird situation saying good-bye to a friend. His mind was clear, but his body was languishing… I wished him good lucky.
Once an Australian friend of mine said that we always say good-bye to after that say hello. I know I will never say hello again to Parofes, not at this world, but he well be with me in the mountains…
I can´t recall when I "met" Paulo, since he is a very prominent figure in the mountaineering community in Brazil. We started chatting via Facebook and had several conversations on many topics within climbing and mountaineering. I regard Paulo as an example to follow because he was one of the few in our community that truly explored our territory and went way beyond the beaten path, not just in Brazil but in the Chilean and Argentinean Andes as well. Although he liked volcanoes and I prefer technical climbs, we did seem to have some favorites in common, such as Antisana and Artesonraju, and that yielded some long conversations as well. His passion for exploration seemed endless, and so was his will to go out and do it, and that is one of the reasons I believed until the last minute that he would make it. On Christmas 2013 we were chatting on Facebook, and amazingly, he wasn´t frustrated for not being able to get out, but he was pissed for not being able to get Lili a gift. My mother, being aware of his story, helped us find some internet shops that sell jewelry, for he wanted to give her golden earrings. He picked one, we called the stores and had them hold up his pick. I stopped at the store, bought the earrings and took them to the hospital for him.
When I entered the room I was a bit shocked at how emaciated he looked, in contrast to his high spirits and ever present sense of humor. Selfless as he was, he spent several minutes trying to get into the internet banking site to transfer me the amount, while I watched in awe a 36 year old looking like a kid giving his first girlfriend a gift. This is the image that is in my mind when I think of him, an immense smile, eyes shining so brightly, someone so tremendously selfless, that it didn´t even seemed he had a terminal disease, and even in that case, all he could thought of was pleasing his wife. To me, he is the definition of a rich human being. It doesn´t really matter that his body is gone, somehow, it feels like he´s sitting right next to me.