These are Reinhold Messner’s reflections on the first ascent of the winter K2 carried out by Nepalese mountaineers (collected by Alessandro Filippini in his Alpinisti e Montagne section in La Gazzeta dello Sport).
Reinhold Messner also wanted to congratulate, via social media, the Nepalese team that made the first winter of K2 and his friend Nirmal Purja [Nims’].
Messner had never had any doubts that the undertaking was possible for the former gurkha, with whom he also met last autumn for the Gazzetta dello Sport Festival in the splendid setting of his museum in Castel Firmiano. On that occasion Nims’ had told him of his intention to attempt the winter of the only 8000m peaks that had not yet been climbed in winter. And he had also told him how much he cared not only for himself, but above all to demonstrate the value of the mountaineers of his country.
Here is what Messner told:
“Nirmal Purja, Mingma Gyalje and their Sherpa companions gave a great demonstration of the skills acquired by the Nepalese. Just as it had happened in the Alps with the guides, who at the end of the nineteenth century were able to become autonomous from the gentlemen who had accompanied them up to the peaks, now the Sherpas have shown that they are capable of everything, at least as regards the high altitude. And it is significant that this great feat on K2, with real teamwork, was accomplished in the centenary year of the first Everest expedition. In 1921 the Sherpas were only bearers and servants of the British, who sought to conquer the third Pole after having been preceded in the ‘conquest’ of the first two. Now the Sherpas are able to take full control of the mountaineering activity in their mountains, as another important fact has well demonstrated: the leader of the expedition [Seven Summit Treks], Chhang Dawa, is a Sherpa. He is also the owner, with his brothers, of the commercial agency that organized all the logistics. The Himalayas are, rightly, Nepalese by now. Nirmal Purja’s great vision, which seemed like an impossible dream of hers, is reality. I hope that Pakistani mountaineers will soon be able to achieve the same ‘autonomy’ in Karakorum. which seemed an impossible dream of his, and now is reality”.
“Meanwhile, Nims, which two years ago had closed the era of the 8000m peaks collection, has now also closed the winter one on the 14 highest mountains on Earth. A fashion destined to be forgotten, as happened in the Alps after the winter boom in the 1950s and 60s. A fashion born for lack of imagination. As in the following years it happened in our mountains, also in the Himalayas and Karakorum the new generations of strong climbers will look for moving and more difficult routes, or climbs with a more modern and light style and even new mountains. There are many more to climb”.
Header: Reinhold Messner – Mike Meyer
Reinhold Andreas Messner (German pronunciation: [ˈʁaɪ̯nhɔlt ˈmɛsnɐ]) (born 17 September 1944) is an Italian mountaineer, explorer, and author. He made the first solo ascent of Mount Everest and, along with Peter Habeler, the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen.
He was the first climber to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) above sea level.
Messner was the first to cross Antarctica and Greenland with neither snowmobiles nor dog sleds.
He also crossed the Gobi Desert alone.
Messner has published more than 80 books (only a quarter of which have been translated into English) about his experiences as a climber and explorer.
In 2018, he received jointly with Krzysztof Wielicki the Princess of Asturias Award in the category of Sports.