Thursday, July 3, 2008

About Erik Monasterio

I was born in Salta, Argentina, to parents from Bolivia and New Zealand. My father was a surgeon and my mother a musician. I grew up constantly traveling between the vastly different world's of Bolivia, Argentina (South America), Spain and New Zealand.

My earliest memories are those of patients visiting my father's surgery, attached to our home in Bolivia. My father was a much sort after surgeon, not just because of his medical skills but also because he would not or could not charge for his services. My memories are therefore of poor people, sitting quietly, ill at ease in our middle class home. They brought with them the mystery of primitive, agricultural societies; superstition and science were forced into discourse at the surgery. But mostly I remember their gratefulness; there was one man who visited every Christmas with trinkets and cheap toys for the boys, and soap and overly sweet perfumes for my parents. My father had saved his life and the man insisted on paying the only way he could. I also remember the constant sound of the piano from my mother's lessons, the discordant music of the Carnival and later delighted when school was interrupted by the endless revolutions and political turmoil that continue to curse Bolivia. As a child I had little understanding, and was sheltered from the tragedy of political instability.

In New Zealand I met a more ordered and predictable world- The antithesis of the Bolivian model. Everything started on time. Houses were fenced. Systems seemed to work, almost mechanically. People were polite, almost to the exclusion of spontaneity. Eventually I attended the University of Otago Medical School, and later in Australia and New Zealand, completed specialty training in Psychiatry.

Despite the competing influences of the various countries I grew up in, the strongest and most dominant influences are those from my early years in Bolivia. From them my love of medicine, music and exploration.

Growing up at the head of the Amazon jungle and at the foot of the great Southern Alps eventually drove me to a life of adventure and expedition. To break up the long years of medical training, I climbed and explored the major mountain regions on all continents. I have mostly chosen to climb were others haven't, and have reached many virgin summits and established a number of new mountaineering routes (refer to CV). Before completing my medical studies I worked as a freelance photojournalist, musician and adventure guide.

Over the years I have come to realize that we are not limited by a lack of ability or time, but rather by the concepts we inherit and form about ourselves. We become trapped by fears, limit our expectations and avoid challenges; on the way missing out on so much of the richness that life has to offer. I have developed simple systems that will assist others to dramatically overcome these limitations and perform well above their expectations, particularly when under stress or pressure.


The Extreme Sports Brain: Interview for ABC Catalyst Program

The Extreme SportsBrain: The Video from ABC Catalyst Program