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Reinhold Messner  








NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
23 Jun 1999

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Show: Geographic Century
Log of DAT #: Reinhold Messner Interview
Date: 6/23/99

PB :07
You know, I think I wanted to start off by talking to you about technique, because it seems, I read your book, and it seems like so much of what you accomplished in mountain climbing had to do with the style in which you accomplished it. And somewhere I read, you used the phrase ¿climbing by fair means.¿ I wonder if you could tell us. What do you mean by that?

RM :35
Climbing by fair means in my view is going up the mountains with the own power, with the own will power especially, and with quite no technical equipment. Clear, we need shoes, we need a rock sock, we need sometimes a rope, but I¿m not using bolts, for example, in rock climbing. I¿m not using oxygen bottles for high altitude climbing, and this sentence, ¿by fair means,¿ was invented just more than hundred years ago by the British climbers, especially by Mammary, Albert Frederick Mammary, who tried to do the most difficult climbs in the Alps with no guides, with no technical equipment, and on the end he tried to climb an 8000 meter peak in the Himalayas, Nangapabot, but there he failed and he died in this expedition in 1895. Afterwards, in the climbing history, we see that the evolution, especially an evolution on hardware, on equipment, but less an evolution in the mind of the people. And only in the last 20 years a young generation of climbers, Americans, Japanese, Europeans, tried to go back to this old-fashioned approach to the mountains, this ¿by fair means,¿ and I think this is the only way out of that line in climbing that, because if you use anything, what you have today for climbing mountains, helicopters, for example, or cable cars or bolts, you can do everything. It¿s easy to go on Everest by a special helicopter. Men were able to reach the moon, so it¿s easy to reach any summit on this world, but if we leave about most of the technical equipment, especially hardware, climbing is still difficult, sometimes impossible.

PB 2:40
Well, I mean, you¿re one of the key people in bringing this, I didn¿t realize it was an old style that you¿re bringing back. And I guess some people look at your 1975 climb of Gashebrem 1 as, as a quantum leap, a quantum leap in climbing- fast, little equipment, no oxygen. I wonder when you went on that ascent, I mean, did you feel like you were breaking new ground at that point in a style of climbing?

RM 3:22
Yes, I knew when I started it would be successful. We would do a new step in mountaineering. Because this style was not possible before, nobody tried in this style a high peak before, Peter Haveler and myself went to Gashebrem 1, called also Hidden Peak in ¿75. The mountain was climbed only once by Americans in ¿58. They used a lot of equipment, also oxygen bottles. And it was considered a difficult mountain. Peter and I went on a much more difficult way, on a much more difficult route, and we didn¿t bring any high altitude camps, no fixed ropes, no oxygen bottles, and especially, no local help, no local porters. We approached the mountain with a little bit of fear because we did not know if we would be able to do it or not. But trying, and having a little bit of luck, good weather, we went up in three days only after no preparation. Back in two days and so we opened a new door to the Himalayan climbings. Especially because this style was much more cheap, cheaper, than the Himalayan style, the heavy style on the 8000 meter peaks, and especially, it told us in a new dimension of adventuring. Of being afraid, of feeling the loneliness high up there. Probably you know that today on Everest there are sometimes 4, 500 people on the same expedition approaching the summit, so they are not any more lonely up there. They are in the middle of a lot of Sherpas putting up the tents, bringing up the fixed ropes, helping to carry up the oxygen bottles, and so all these people, they do something very strange. They, in reality, do not like to approach this high place as a place where human beings should not go. The mountains, especially these high mountains, are not made for human beings. And only if I approach these mountains by myself or with only one friend or maybe two friends, without any foreign help, I feel what the pioneers on the beginning of the century felt when the approached these summits. Because we are not any more going to these mountains to conquer the summit, to conquer the Himalayas. We go there to conquer the hidden places of our soul, of our ourselves. And for this is much better we go in this new style, but this new style was used for a few years, and afterwards, it was forgetten again, forgotten again, because most of the people today, they approach the high mountains, the easier ones, in our style. But on the base camps of these high peaks, they find other 50 groups like they are, and so they make out on the (unintelligible) expedition, high expeditions again, and no loneliness, no outside of the civilized world, and especially this is not what is giving to the actor the strong experience of being on the end of the world.

PB 7:05
Well, I wonder what it is, when you say you conquer hidden, I think you said soul perhaps, hidden peak, no I mean, when you¿re in a very difficult situation and it¿s just you and maybe your climbing partner on the mountain, what do you find out about yourself when you¿re in these extreme, extreme situations?

RM 7:29
How small you are, how afraid you are, how strong you are. You find especially out that the summit is nothing special, the summit is not the climax of an expedition, of a climb, the summit is only the point you reach, and afterwards you have to go down. Being on the summit means nothing because not coming back to base camp, you die somewhere. The really important moment of all these climbs is the way, the moment when you come out from this situation on the end of the world, back to the first human beings, back to the base camp, for example, back to running water, to warm air, to the first insects in the air, to the first grasses on the ground. Before you are in the cold, in the lack oxygen, in high places, and afterwards, you are back in the normal world to which we humans belong in. We are not belonging to the high peaks, not to the summits of Everest, of K2, of Kanchunchinga, or to Gashebrem 1. We are belonging like everybody else to a normal bar, to a normal house, to a normal family. But there is an inner wish to go sometimes far away, on the end of the world. And doing it on ourself with our own limitations, we feel these limitations, but if we do it with all the technology we have today, we don¿t feel these limitations. Climbing has nothing to with the hubris to be strong, to be superhuman, to be something or somebody exceptional, weak or strong or good. Especially to do with accepting human limitations. And I think that most of the climbers are not understanding this approach. They go only to bring home some record, to bring home some medal. They climb Everest to have a medal on their breast to say, ¿I did it. I climbed Everest like Hillary.¿ But today it is not possible to climb Everest like Hillary, because when Hillary did it in ¿53, he did it as the first person, so he approached in reality what we call the unknown. And going in in unknown places means to go step by step not knowing how the whole thing is ending. Today we know exactly how human beings are behaving on the summit of Everest. Especially with the use of oxygen like Hillary used and then most of the climbers afterwards used and then when I climbed Everest the first time in `78, I did it without oxygen bottles, because I was interested to see, to know, in this unknown world, the world above 8500 meters, without oxygen, how human beings are behaving, but not only from the physiological side, especially from the inner side. And I found out that we are getting a little bit schizophrenic up there, hearing some voices which are our own voices, from our inner world, being a little bit with the head full of air and not any more clear thinking. And being on this limit, being confronted with their own limitations, we come back to the base camp with the feeling that we are lucky, that we are weak, that we are limitated. And this is what I learned on high mountains.

PB 11:29
Well, that climb in ¿78 with Peter Haveler. What made you think that you could do it, that you could climb Everest without oxygen?

RM 11:39
Before starting, I did not know if I could do it or not. We went there. We tried. But living is trying, making mistakes, trying again, and so pushing forwards the limits. And we went and we failed the first time on 8000 meters because we had a terrible storm. Peter afterwards was afraid and he said, ¿No, I am not risking any more. This is too dangerous.¿ And he tried to be part of another group which went up with oxygen bottles, but he could not find partners in another group, and so on the end, he decided, okay, let¿s try it. We went up to the last camp on the on the (unintelligible), and from there, we went in in the unknown world, because nobody before us did the last part of Everest without using oxygen bottles. And we went, we looked at each other. We did not even speak. We had not air to go, so we had not air, not enough oxygen to speak with each other, but looking one in the other¿s face, we could understand the other is still willing to go a little bit, and so slowly, slowly, we reached on the south summit, maybe 100 meters, 300 feet below the main summit, and from there, we could see a very sharp ridge, quite difficult. And there we were unsure if going ahead or not. But we were there at midday, so we had a little bit of time left. And we went step by step, and in more than one hour, we did this last small piece, reaching the summit, being also happy four ourselves, because up to the last moment, up to the last step, we were unsure if we could do it or not. And especially for this approaching the limits step by step not knowing, we can go ahead, we cannot go ahead, maybe in three meters, it¿s out and we cannot any more do one step. We had very strong feeling, but not up there. Up there was only the fear. The fear that we were in the clouds. We were in a storm. The base camp was three days down. So we ran down the mountain in only the last day reaching the base camp on quite easy ground. We understood that we did a small last step, not the last step, a small last step approaching high mountains.

PB 14:18
And just two years later, you did what is regarded by many people as the greatest feat in mountaineering. You made a solo climb of Mount Everest, which for most people is almost impossible to even contemplate. I wonder if you could describe that trip at all for me.

RM 14:39
The solo ascent of Everest is still now the point on the high of my climbing. It was not the most difficult thing I did in my life. But it was very hard, and I needed a long time to be prepared for this ascent. After Everest with Peter Haveler, I decided by myself, quietly, not speaking with everybody about, that I would like to do try to do it solo. I knew that theoretically I could do it solo because I did not need oxygen bottles. If you would need oxygen bottles on Everest, you cannot do it solo because you have to have somebody who is helping you to carry up these oxygen bottles near the summit. I decided to go in the monsoon time. It¿s quite warm then, but it¿s always misty and cloudy and a lot of snow. And I decided to do so because I knew that the technical difficulties would be less than during the fall time when the whole mountain is black. It¿s icy and rocky. In the monsoon time it¿s snow all over, so it was easier for me to climb up, but it was harder for me to climb up because I had to break pain. I knew that Mallory and Irvine in ¿24 approached the summit on the summit ridge doing the first step and maybe, I am sure, failing on the second step, and so I knew also that the second step would be so difficult for a solo climber that I should not approach this way. I should approach a galley on the right side of the second step. So I did not pass by on the place where Mallory and Irvine died in ¿24. I came to the Rambuch monastery on the base of Everest on the north side after buying for a lot of money by the Chinese a permit for the Everest solo ascent in ¿80. I went up quite quickly to the north ???. This is 7000 meters high. And there I found out it is impossible. The snow was too wet. Sometimes I thought I was up the waist in the snow. It was also very dangerous for avalanches. So I stopped my climb. I went down to the base camp again and I had to wait for six weeks, six weeks to warm weather. It was snowing, it was cloudy, it was misty, and it¿s not, it is not possible to do Everest in a whiteout. In this six weeks, I went to train, to run every day, and I did some 7000 meter peaks, smaller peaks around, to acclimatize. Perfect. And in the middle of August, the weather became perfect. Clear sky, it was quite cold. So this snow, this wet snow, was frozen, and I could do quite easily the first part. And then I decided I will do it in one going. I went up to a camp on 6400 meters, my last camp, at one base camp. And from there I started in one night. I was the 18th of August, ¿80. By starlight, no moonlight, with a lamp as a torch. With a heavy rock sack, I had food and gas for cooking, not oxygen, but gas for cooking. I had also down equipment, a small tent, a sleeping bag, and I climbed very quickly. And at 7000 meters, I had an accident. I fell into a crevice. It was quite dramatic, because down in the crevice, I fell in 8 meters. I fell on white light snow so I was not injured, but I could understand it, it was quite impossible to go out of this crevice, because the crevice was made in form of an A, large down, then up. And inside in this crevice, I swore to myself, if I go out, I go home. It¿s over. It¿s too dangerous. But after a while, I found a way out of this crevice, and when I was out, I forgot what I said to myself, and I went upwards. Why? Because for two years, between ¿78 and ¿80, I was dreaming Everest, I was identifying with the summit, identifying with this climb. I studied all the books on all the climbers who did the Everest ascent before me. And I went up quite good up to 7800 meters. I was tired, but not deadly tired. I made divac, it means that I put up my small tent and I was trying to cook a little bit of chai tea. I drink in this time only salty like the Tibetans for putting back the salt to my body which I lost breathing and a little bit also sweating and the night was quite a good night. It¿s clear up there, I could sleep five minutes, I woke up five minutes, I woke up. The fear if I could do it, if I had to go back, if the weather would hold. Next day I had again a perfect day. And I crossed the whole north face on quite good snow, not perfect snow. More or less a little but lower like Shipton crossed the north face in the `30s. Shipton was a famous British climbers in the `30s. And I reached the Norton ???, where Colonel Norton tried it in ¿24. There again, I had to put up camp and I was not so happy because the second day was a slow day. I did only 1200 feet in one day. That¿s nothing up there. But I was high enough. I was at 8200 meters. I had to do 700 meters on the last day, and with good weather, I knew I could do it. But exactly the third day, it was the 20th of August, I had bad weather in the morning. It was not stormy, but it was cloudy, misty. And the problem was not the cold or the wind, the problem was the orientation. Because on a vertical wall, you cannot find orientation with a compass, it¿s ???. You need to orient, find orientation with some rock points, with some galleys, with some ???, with the summit itself. And I thought to myself, ¿Okay. If the weather is like this, I will go ahead up to the moment when it¿s snowing, when it¿s beginning to snow would be too dangerous for the fact that the snow would fill up my traces, my footsteps, and I would not find the way down. And I climbed and I climbed up to midday. At midday, still no summit around. Only clouds above me and snow above me. And I was nearby to say it¿s getting too dangerous. I have to go back. It was also snowing a little bit. Sometimes I could see holes in the clouds and I could see a piece of sky. I could see sometimes a piece of the glaciers far, far down. And only because I had the feeling I am maybe 10 meters, 15 meters from the summit, I went ahead and I went ahead and I went ahead for three more hours. And when finally I reached the summit which was marked by a study made up by the Chines in ¿75. It was there for approximately 15 years, 5 years, excuse me, 5 years. It was a symbol on the summit. When I reached the symbol, I was so tired that I did a few pictures and afterwards I sat down there on the summit of no view, not thinking, closed eyes, not hearing, not willing. I was only sitting there like a dead man. And after one hour, I had a little bit of power left to get up for the going down and afterwards, it was quite difficult to find my small tent at 8200 meters and the next days I could go down with less difficulties. But this last day was really the limit of my possibilities. I would never, ever had the will power and also the open mind to approach a place on this world where I would be between death and life like then on Everest.

PB 23:34
What do we learn by people like you, people who climb mountains? What does it help us learn about our environment?

RM 23:44
Maybe these climbs are not showing a big deal about environment. It¿s clear that a rotten mountain, a mountain full of garbage is, a rotten mountain is a destroyed mountain. But we learn much more of environment approaching these mountains, living with the local people, or staying there on the base of these mountains in this wildness, in this loneliness, in this harmony. I think that human beings became human beings because for hundred thousands of years, they had to survive in wilderness. And surviving in wilderness with all this danger around, they became intelligent and they learned to handle life, and slowly, we invented everything. We invented the airplanes and we invented the telephone and the satellite communications and the Internet and all we have today. But the first steps, they were the approach of wilderness in, in pre-Neanderthal time, and it¿s good for us to go back in this human situation, to go back in a firmer area to understand the relationship between human beings and nature, between man and mountain. And only in this meeting, men-mountains, in this meeting, or as a woman and mountains, there¿s no difference, we learn something about us and maybe we understand better what is the world without us. We human beings on this world now six milliards, or billions, you say in America, there are many people and more we are, less possibility we have to be in wild places, to understand that once human beings were alone on this world, quite alone on this world, and approach to nature was a totally different one.

PB 26:13
I wonder, do you think of yourself as an explorer at all? I mean, I know you¿re an adventurer. Are you an explorer, too?

RM 26:21
No, I am not an explorer. Maybe with my Yeti story I was an explorer, a buff, exploring myself. I am exploring myself, more or less. Studying the Mallory story, I am an explorer in a historical view. Studying the Yeti and giving the answer on the Yeti question, I was a classical explorer, not a scientist. I am not a scientist. I am not a biologist and I am not a geographer. I was only, men being not happy with the answers given before me about this question what is behind this myth about this monster called the Yeti the Himalayas. And for a dozen of years, I followed the footprints, I followed people which knew which said something about the Yeti, finding on the end the answer and giving the answer not only to myself, giving it also to the Western world because it was in the Western world where we had a totally wrong approach to this monster or to this myth.

PB 27:42
You¿ve paid a price for your time in the mountains. You lost your brother Gunther on Nangaparvot. You lost another brother climbing the Dolomites. You¿ve lost, I¿m sure, a lot of friends, many toes. Has it all been worth it?

RM 28:00
No. If you ask like this, there is surely a clear no. But before going to Nangaparvot, there was a lot of enthusiasm for both of us, Gunther and myself. We did not know what will happen, and this is a typical metaphor for life. If we do something, something also may be very difficult, in the forehand, before going, we don¿t know what is happening. If we would know it, we should not even go. But afterwards, it¿s too late to say it was wrong. Clearly it was wrong what happened on Nangaparvot and clearly I have to carry responsibility, but afterwards, it was too late to decide to do something else, and I decided halfway after the tragedy on Nangaparvot, how this moment I lived in my life, to go back to the mountains. My parents and my brothers and my friends said, ¿Okay, it¿s over now. You lost your toes and you lost your brother. You should stay at home and study and doing a normal profession and forget about mountaineering.¿ But my dreams, they¿re left on the high peaks and with staying at home and becoming an architect I could not bring back to life my brother who died on Nangaparvot. Later, when my other brother Sigfried died in the Dolomites, I was not even there. He was hitten by a lighting and he died there, so it was a totally different thing. I do not feel at all responsible for that and I feel very bad if I hear every day that somebody¿s dying in the mountains. Mountaineering is very, very dangerous, and without danger, mountains are not mountains, but something else. You can do artificial mountains, you can build artificial mountains in the cities and they are not dangerous. You use them for playing your fit for fun. But if you go out in nature, you have to know that for human beings, there is danger. If you are not going to the mountains, there is no danger there. But if we approach real mountains, high mountains, we go in in danger. In the art of mountaineering stays in approaching, in trying. Not in succeeding, not in conquering, not in reaching the summit. In approaching and coming back safely. I speak about the art of mountaineering and the fact that I was able to survive all the 8000 meter peaks. I did, up to now, 3500 summits in my life, beginning as a small, small child, being lucky many times. On the tragedy on Nangaparvot, I survived; my brother died. I was lucky; he was unlucky. If you see the climbing history, you find out easily that exactly half of the leading climbers of the last 200 years died on the mountains, the other half died at home in the bed. But it¿s not set that who was better didn¿t die in the mountains and who was not so good died on the mountains. Has also to do with luck. But also, the luck, we have to learn to use it. And who is approaching big mountains should know that death is one option. But the art stays in not giving a chance to death, to this option.

PB 31:44
Is it sometimes harder to make that decision, when things are going really badly, to turn around than to keep going?

RM 31:53
For me, was always easier to turn around. I had never a problem during the ascents to decide now it¿s better to go down. And only on the 8000 meter peaks, I did 30 expedition up to now, I failed all together 12 times. Because it was too dangerous or I didn¿t feel well or I had a bad feeling. I am also sure that the famous George Mallory, they found the body 75 years after his disappearing. They found the body on the first of May this year. He did not go to the summit of Everest because he was intelligent enough to understand that the last part was too difficult for him in this period with nail shoes. So he turned down, but he did a small mistake in the going down, and so he died. We do now know which kind of mistake, but anyway, he did a mistake. And all of us, we are becoming afraid if it¿s really lightning, if there is avalanche danger, if there is a lack of oxygen, if there is cold. If the situation is acceptable, maybe on Everest only 40 below and not 60 below, the storm only 30 kilometers an hour and not 120 kilometers an hour. Quiet, clear sky, we go upwards. If a lot of problems meeting in one moment, we are all running away. But there are some exceptions, some special moments. If many people in the same moment are approaching a summit like Everest, they do more mistakes than only one or two climbers in a single, small group ascent. Why? Very simple, if there are 12, 15, 20 people approaching a high summit, they have all the feeling if the others are still keen to go, so it¿s not so danger. So they close their eyes for danger and they approach and approach and afterwards they die in a huge group like Krakouer is describing in his beautiful book, Into Thin Air, about the Everest expedition in ¿96. A small group, two people, one solo climber in the same situation would go a little bit, he would maybe start, but he would not have gone for the summit in this quite bad weather situation. But the huge group tried, and so we had a huge tragedy.

PB 34:41
I wonder as we approach the end of the century, is there anything left to learn about our Earth at high altitude? Is there anything left to discover up there? Have we, has everything been so well-trodden that we know it all now? Is there anything left for mountain climbers like you to find out about the Earth way high up?

RM 35:03
We know everything geographically. You can see everything from the satellite. If you like to see Everest or a small piece on Everest, you can buy via Internet exactly this spot which like, you like to see. Probably you can also get the noises from up there. But we do know quite nothing about our inner Everest. Everest is very high. Our unknown places in our soul are very, very deep. Deep like the summit of Everest is high. And so there is a lot of things to do. And I think the most important things we have to learn going to wild places that we should leave the values, the basic values to the mountains. It means the danger, the difficulties, the bigness, the loneliness. W should not bring any infrastructures. It means no fixed ropes, no bolts, no base camps, no huts to the mountains, so that also the next generations can go far up to look deep down in their own soul.

PB 36:17
What is your favorite peak? What¿s been your favorite climb over these years?

RM 36:21
My favorite peak is always the next one to climb. In the moment for me is a peak in the Alps because I will go this weekend to climb the smaller peak. Alone, not for training, for going. For doing a little bit of going out in the wilderness. And afterwards I will come to the states in the San Francisco mountains to follow the North American Indians on their approach to the mountains. You know that also the American Indians climb the mountains. Not for sportive reasons, not for doing some records. For approaching the gods. And I am studying the holy mountains all over the world to know a little bit more about behavior of human beings hundred years ago.

PB 37:14
When you, actually I wanted to ask you a little bit about, I know we¿re running out of time soon, you¿ve taken up Arctic and Antarctic exploration as well, or traverses. I wonder how that compares to climbing an 8000 meter peak.

RM 37:31
The big difference between climbing Mount Everest and crossing Antarctica is that from Everest, you can fall down. On Everest, on Antarctica, you can fell, but you don¿t fell down. So there¿s a big difference. On Everest, there is a lack of oxygen. In Antarctica, the lack of oxygen is not so bad, but the vastness of the place is much bigger. In Antarctica, you are on a different world. You are not anymore on the Earth. You are on a different world. It¿s like on the Mars or the moon crossing this huge continent. We needed approximately 3 months pulling a sled with a lot of equipment, of food, of sleeping bag, of tent, and having for months and months the same horizon in front of us. Seeing a world which is not made for human beings like Everest, but not anymore a vertical world. In this case, a horizontal world. The dimensions are much bigger, but some problems, some danger is left like lack of oxygen and especially the risk to fall down. If you fell in Antarctica, okay, you are on your knees and you get up again. If you fell on the summit of Everest, you don¿t wake up anymore because you found yourself 4000 meters step of falling down.

PB 39:11
Do you still climb 8000 meters peaks?

RM 39:14
I was planning to go on an 8000 meter peak this summer, but I stopped, I canceled my expedition because I was running for the European Parliament and I decided only at the last moment to do so and I needed the whole time to win my seat. And now, I am also a politician, fighting special, especially for a new approach of wilderness in Europe. Defending the Alps, the Pyrennes, the Apennines, and maybe in the next years I will be concentrated on my new responsibility, on my new walk, and afterwards, let¿s say in the beginning of the next millennium, I will go maybe one last time to the high peaks.

PB 40:04
Because I read, it was actually a number of years ago, you said you had enough of the death zone. But I guess not, huh?

RM 40:11
No, I did not say it like this. I said that I promised to my mother that being able to climb all the 8000 meters peaks and I did it in ¿86, I was finished with this approach, with this special life, because she was afraid. She lost two sons in the mountains and she always said, okay, understand you, you have to do them all, but afterwards, okay, promise you¿re finished with it. And I said, ¿Yes, I promise.¿ And afterwards, I did not anymore do any 8000 meter peaks, not even approaching them. But my mother died in ¿95 and afterwards, I felt free to go back to these places. But there is not anymore this necessity. Now my interest changed. But still, I have the feeling that certain climbs I could do. And sometimes I need a measurement, a measurement done with my feet, with my muscles, with my limitations, with my will power. And I cannot sit in some halls and discuss with people, sit on my table to do a book, and sit in my castle and see the landscape around. I need it sometimes, to go out, and sometimes, also to go high up.

PB 41:39
When you think back on your climbing career, is there one moment in the mountains, is there one image, just one time on a certain mountain that is kind of your favorite image that pops into your head when you think about your climbing career?

RM 41:55
I think the best climb of my life I did was Nangaparvot solo in ¿78. I climbed Nangaparvot twice, and this was the most elegant thing I did in my life, and the historians just now say that this was maybe my best climb. It was the best style, I had a very good time, I was lucky there because I had the earthquake in the middle of the face and the whole mountain was really big chaos and I came out quite luckily. I had also other situations like this on Greenland, for example, crossing Greenland the long way from southeast to northwest. I had with my younger brother Hubert great moments, especially on the end when we came out of 35 days of running across Greenland. We had the feeling to come out of hell and to go back to life. And I remember also climbs of my young years. I was 15 years old in the Dolomites when I was able to do the first time the famous sixth degree, the maximum then done by rock climbers. And having the feeling now I am approaching what is the art of rock climbing and I am very thankful for all these moments and I am still full of ideas for the next years, 10 years, 20 years, I don¿t know how many time is left for me. And I know having done this life that was is gone is biography. What is in front of me is giving me energy, creativity, also enjoyment of living, and for this, I am prepared to accept every year, every month, every day, new challenges and these new challenges giving me my good feeling. Less looking back in my biography.

PB 44:09
You wrote or said once, ¿I am nothing more than a single gasping lung floating over the mists and summits.¿ Do you still think of yourself that way?

RM 44:20
This happened on the summit, or near the summit on Everest, and in this moment, I felt like this because the breathing is becoming so hard and the air is so cold coming into our lungs without oxygen bubbles that you really feel like a rotten piece of flesh, of blood rolling yourself up Everest like Sisyphus with the last will power and the last physical power you have. And this sentence you read, it¿s in one of my books, is also the proof that up there, our brain is quite empty. Quite nothing is anymore happening in our brain for the lack of oxygen, but our body is making strong experiences. And if afterwards, maybe back to the last camp, we are able to put it on a diary, we bring something important home also for the others which have not a chance to go so high up or to go so far out in wilderness.


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