I hope that in your life the good will always outweigh the bad in everything you do and everything that comes to you. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always occur. There is this thing called tragedy that has no mercy for anyone or anything. This post is written in memory of a fellow warrior who passed away in a tragic accident.
I can’t really put the finger on the day when I first met Marjan Vilhar. It was probably on one of Slovenian cave search and rescue exercises in a canyon. He always introduced himself as: “Hi, I am Vilhar”. Never by his first name, as if he wouldn’t want to be called this way. But I insisted on calling him by his first name. Anyhow… After this first meeting years passed and we did more and more canyons together.
He was this guy, who loved the caves and canyons with all his heart. Working as a cave guide in Postojna cave, being a caver, cave rescuer and canyoneer he probably spent more time in the underground world than on the earth surface. And he wanted to spend even more of it in this environment.
I remember one day I had one long guiding trip in Predelica canyon. And afterwards, I had another trip in the Kozjak canyon with another group. We were running really late, it was getting quite dark when we reached the last waterfall. My group was descending the waterfall when I see two guys behind us. One of them smiles, runs towards me and hugs me. Who else than always friendly Marjan. He explains that he had to work until 2 pm but immediately afterwards he took off to do this canyon that he loves. I was really happy to see him since I was not the only one in the canyon caught by the dark.
Sierra de Guara
The longest time I had a privilege to spend with was on our Sierra de Guara trip. We shared the car and tent. And boy, that was an adventure and a half. We had high water levels in most of the canyons, some quite long approach hikes and we were full of crazy ideas. One of them was, as if we were not tired enough from canyoning, to climb another small mountain, pitch a tent on it and wake up for a sunrise. I can’t remember whose idea it was, but Marjan signed up for it immediately. He was never too tired to do another adventure. I dreamed of taking a good shot with all the tents in the sunrise so it didn’t take long to convince me.
Another thing I remember from this trip, more than anything is his character. He was not only good as a canyoneer and a sportsman but also a friend. I was not in the best emotional health at that time. But he encouraged me and told me his story. He also helped me to restore some self-confidence by calling me a sensei. I realised that guys like us, we all have similar issues with people that surround us. By being this outdoorsy warrior, you have a hard time being compatible with your partner, family…
It is not that you do all the canyons in all conditions with anyone. But if there is a person, you know very well and you trust, you can do things that are on the limit of what is possible and safe. Last year I and my girlfriend spent time in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region where we decided to do Frondizon canyon. Marjan and Primož were keen to join us. By being such a strong crew I didn’t take much notice that the water level in the bottom of the canyon is really high. We entered the canyon and I saw that it is going to be quite a challenge for my girlfriend since she is not that experienced canyoneer. But I believed that we will be able to do it with the help of Marjan and Primož. She managed to get through the most of the canyon, but the last waterfall proved to be too much of a challenge for her. Water was strong and she had to abseil in it. There was no option to bail out so we had to make another plan. We decided that I will stay on top of the waterfall, Marjan will attach himself to the deviation anchor point in the middle of the waterfall and be there to help her and play a “cheerleader”. After a couple of minutes of convincing and breathing exercises, she decided to go. The plan worked, Marjan helped her to re-clip at the deviation and she was able to continue and we were out of the canyon in no time. She has him in memory as a guy who saved her ass that day.
Farewell to Marjan
Marjan. If I knew, that the amount of days we will spend together is numbered, I would spend more of them. But at least I had the privilege of meeting you. I hope we will have the opportunity to do more things together in the next life. Since you will be there already for quite some time, you will be my sensei this time. I know you won’t rest in peace. That’s just not your style :).
I am expressing huge condolences to his family and loved ones. He will be remembered as being a great member of our community and as even greater person.