“I would be the most miserable person on earth if I constantly had to give up on my dreams.” Reinhold Messner’s Leadership Rules
77-year-old climber Reinhold Messner is a legendary figure. He was the first in the world to climb Everest in 1980 – in the monsoon season, without the use of supplemental oxygen and insurance, without hooks and сrampons, alone. In general, the brave Italian was the first climber to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres.
He traveled through Antarctica and Greenland, visited the North and South Poles, crossed the Gobi and Takla Makan deserts. And all this – without any connection with relatives and the press. Messner did this not for fame, but for one more small tick in the list of his personal victories.
But it did not prevent him from becoming a TV star and politician, the face of the Montblanc house, as well as the founder of five mountain museums with unique artifacts.
“I AM ABLE – I AM FREE – TO GO DOWN”
Reinhold Messner is rightfully considered a popularizer of mountaineering. He has written over 70 books on climbing and travel. Having conquered 3,000 mountains, he experienced several tragic losses of loved ones, and also lost seven toes, frostbite during the ascent.
“The higher the mountain, the less emotions. There is simply no place for them. There is only room for a decision, a statement of fact: I am able – I’m free – to go down. We force ourselves to fight with the survival instinct, the strongest of the instincts we have been given,” Reinhold Messner once said.
It was Messner who gave the designation to the concept of “traditional mountaineering”. He considers it a 250-year process of development based on strong traditions, the origins of which are “in archaic landscapes in accordance with anarchic patterns of behavior”.
It’s the best feeling to come back from the mountain
Now he notes with sadness, “The golden age of mountaineering no longer exists, because today even the highest peaks of the world are accessible to tourists.”
He was always drawn to go where no man had gone before. Therefore, from childhood, a native of South Tyrol, Reinhold Messner, loved to travel around his native Dolomites, and as a student, he began to climb peaks professionally with might and main.
He experienced the first bitterness of loss in 1970, when his brother Gunter Reinhold died in an avalanche during the descent from Mount Nangaparbat. The body of the guy was discovered by Pakistani climbers only 35 years later.
“ANOTHER HALF AN HOUR AND I’M DONE”
When on August 20, 1980, Messner climbed Everest without an oxygen tank, he was so devastated and tired that he did not feel any glee. He will later share all his feelings from the ascent in detail in the book Crystal Horizon: Everest: The First Solo Ascent. It has become a reference book for those who dream of conquering Everest.
“I sink into the snow, heavy as a stone. I would like to rest at least a little, forget about everything in the world. But they don’t rest here. I’m worked out and devastated to the limit. Another half an hour and I’m done. Fatigue not only makes the body heavy, but also the brain refuses to process what is perceived. What, is it already evening? No, it’s 4 p.m. now. It’s time to leave… ” the author writes in the book.
Recently, mountaineer Reinhold Messner has been speaking quite sharply about the rising generation of mountain conquerors. In one of the interviews, he generally noted that not everyone who conquered Everest can be called climbers. Many of them are just tourists.
Only climbers know how much willpower and courage it takes to retreat where there is at least something that would justify moving up
“People who climb Everest using media advertising, oxygen tanks, sherpas who risk their lives to get a client to the top and hang auxiliary ropes are one hundred percent tourists. World-class athletes and extreme climbers prefer to look for difficult routes on six-thousanders and seven-thousanders. Because they know hipsters don’t go there,” he says.
“THEY COULD STAY HOME”
For those who are close to the romance of real mountaineering, the “alpine anarchist” Reinhold Messner shares practical tips for climbing.
“Hazards in the mountains tend to appear unexpectedly, but at the same time they are not random,” says Messner. “In today’s world of mountaineering, the risks in the mountains are assessed rather poorly due to the fact that often experiences and knowledge come to climbers through ‘second hands’, or through the TV screen, or from stories that are told to us, or from the media.”
And he adds, “Face to face with risk is invariably accompanied by a learning process that remains forever with me, deeply imprinted in my memory. These are the values that I don’t want to lose. I would be the most miserable person on earth if I constantly had to give up on my dreams.”
Those who consider themselves immortal do not live long
Reinhold Messner notes that mountain risks have now increased due to the melting of permafrost glaciers – there is a possibility of rockfalls. However, real climbers now have excellent equipment, accurate weather forecasts and valuable knowledge.
About those who died in the snow and on the peaks, he says only one thing: “They could have stayed at home on the couch, but that would not have made them happy.”
Now Reinhold Messner still lives in his old mansion-castle Yuval in South Tyrol and breeds yaks. He writes memoirs, maintains an Instagram page and willingly communicates with fans.
“I think that I was very lucky – I was born after the war, at that time, although difficult, post-war, there was a period full of new hopes. Today, young people are closed and fixated in their crowded world,” says the legendary climber. “It is important to remember that I have lived an amazing life.”