Matteo “Berna” Bernasconi, born in 1982, Ragno di Lecco since 2003, mountain guide since 2011, died yesterday 12 May 2020, swept away by an avalanche in the Malgina Colouir in Valtellina.
Matteo Bernasconi (born in Lecco in 1982, Ragno di Lecco in 2003, mountain guide since 2011)
– 2006 new icefall route on the SE face of the Baratro in Val di Mello with Giovanni Ongaro
– 2006 with Hervé Barmasse, Lorenzo Lanfranchi and Giovanni Ongaro he opened a new route on the then untouched north face of San Lorenzo (Patagonia)
– 2008 with Fabio Salini completes the first Italian – and seventh overall – repeat of the legendary via dei Ragni on Cerro Torre (Patagonia)
– between 2010 and 2013 three attempts to climb the last great wall still untouched in the Cerro Torre massif, or the West of the Torre Egger, finally resolved by comrades Matteo della Bordella and Luca Schiera in March 2013 a few days after returning to Italy by Bernasconi for work commitments.
– 2017 in Patagonia with Matteo Della Bordella and David Bacci opens a new route on the east face of Cerro Murallon
– 2020 (February) in Patagonia with Matteo Della Bordella and Matteo Pasquetto he opened The die is taken on the north of the Aguja Standhardt, just before repeating the Via del 40esimo dei Ragni di Lecco on the north face of the Aguja Poincenot.
I have already had occasion to mention the darkest part of my passion in telling Mountain Stories, the confrontation with the death of women, men, friends, friends, family; the poor attitude to confront the mystery of physical disappearance, the inevitability of events that overwhelm even the most prudent in the mountains.
You never get ready when a young father dies, such a beloved figure as that of Bern: with his curls, his smile and his overwhelming sympathy, his humble and professional availability as a mountaineer and mountain guide.
While sipping coffee this morning, I saw a silent post on Riky Felderer’s bulletin board, there was a picture of “Berna” (his nickname). A punch in the stomach.
In 2013 I started writing thanks to a series of messages exchanged with Matteo Bernasconi, who the year before had touched the sensational feat on the West Wall of the Egger Tower together with Matteo Della Bordella, when the two remained hung to life “With a Little Help from … a friend “after a fall, both hanging from a 0.3mm friend.
Matteo Bernasconi e Matteo Della Bordella (arch Ragni Lecco)
This is how my personal story as a modest writer and reporter of mountain things began: for the overwhelming sympathy, for the professionalism, the passion that Matteo Bernasconi immediately transmitted to me – and the same goes for the current President of the Spiders of Lecco, the his great friend Matteo Della Bordella.
The fact that his nickname is like mine, “Berna”, seems funny and silly,but it was something special to me. I don’t write this for rhetoric : without you, Berna, I probably would not have found the courage to write to famous, expert mountaineers to begin my journey in this passion for extraordinary people, capable of extraordinary feats on peaks, like you.
Tentativo sulla Siula Grande, Matteo Bernasconi (arch Ragni Lecco)
Matteo, you went on too early.
A huge hug to your little daughter, to your girlfriend, to the Spiders of Lecco and to all your friends.
I don’t like the Mountains: I’ve lost too many friends, up there
Denis Urubko – Translation Federico Bernardi with the collaboration of .. some Russian friends
I’d seen a lot of speculation in recent times, lot of people talked about me … “blah blah blah” ; they do it to promote themselves.
Please! How many lies … both from film directors as from other climbers.
It happens that journalists offer to the audience these speculations as the ultimate truth. But most of them are wrong.
The only one I trust about these speculations [about K2 last attempt with polish exp,NdT] is Bohuslav Magrel (Head of the Polish Alpine Club), because he knows me well. And now I prefer to clarify by myself .
There is nothing definitive for me, on the contrary !
Everything I do in the mountains could change, in my opinion: tactics, technique and climbing style. Only the goal remains the same.
Therefore, no one should be surprised if I reappear in the Himalayas, once or a few times … For example: why do not break Juanito Oiarzabal’s record and climb Cho Oyu four times in a season?
Such a thing would be a lot safer and more fun than what I’ve done so far.
But extreme mountaineering, the first and the winter climbs to the peaks of the Himalayas are no longer for me.
However I leave an open door, in case my wife, Maria Jose Cardell, asks me to help me trace a new alpine-style route. In this case I will help her, for sure.
What is certain is that I had decided to close with extreme mountaineering even before trying Broad Peak.
I was joking with my two partners, Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa, on the fact that this was my last expedition: I was counting the days … I told them: another 45, 30, 20 days before the end of my Himalayan career.
However I put a lot, a lot of strength and all my soul into this last attempt. I did a lot of the route opening job. You have seen my three summit attempts, including two solos when Don was sick.
I have spent many years in extreme mountaineering, I have had enough. I have fulfilled my ambitions and I see nothing else I could do.
What have I managed to do in excellence? “Shine on you crazy diamonds”: my “diamonds” are my five new alpine-style routes on eight thousand meters. I climbed at high speed and set speed records from 4,000 to 8,000 m.
I did two winter climbs on 8,000 mt.
I have climbed extremely difficult routes on rock from 2,000 to 7,000 meters, on bastions and walls in different parts of the world, such as the Kush-Kaya, the Ushba, the Vittoria Peak, the Kali-Himal. I am quite satisfied with what I have done.
From a quantitative point of view … Age is a problem from which nobody escapes. I can’t do what I could do when I was 30! It is important to understand this and not try to run like a hamster on a wheel.
I have worked as a coach for 14 years and I have formed strong teams. But many organizers and participants often did not make enough efforts. Too many confuse freedom as “doing nothing” without effort.
Another reason why I quit is liability. My wife, my childrens and my parents need more attention and support . After all, they rightly told me: a good climber is a living climber.
I want to spend more time with my loved ones.
Above all, I am tired of wasting time. This has happened too often. I spent a lot of time training and I missed my family and friends too often.
The expeditions lasted from two to three months, my partners have often proved to be a burden , as has happened many times with Simone Moro.
And it was the same during the last attempt to climb K2 or Broad Peak this year, and I mean Don Bowie. Being a good person is important, but it is not enough to reach the summit. I have had to stop so many times because of other people’s irresponsibility. Now I prefer to spend my time doing other things.
I don’t like mountains: I’ve lost a lot of friends up there. I like actions and I want to feel free to choose … my way of being free.
Now I intend to live a life common to that of normal people: work, children, hobbies .. I will enjoy life. And rock climbing, at high levels, but safely. I dream of climbing up to 8a.
Yes, it is true, I have saved a dozen people; and I also saved many from freezing and other injuries. And three times others have saved me, so I thank my friends and expedition companions. I saved a dozen people, but this should be seen in a different way: let’s think, for example, of the doctors from the emergency departments who save hundreds of people every day. Medical care is the norm in the life for many people, this makes our life better in Wroclaw or in other places, in Italy where I do live.
All of this while myself and other climbers, in reality, simply realize our selfish or sporting ambitions.
When I rescued Anna and Marchin [on K2, NdT], of course, they both needed my help, but themselves found strength in those situations. Without your own efforts, when you are in trouble, everything would take longer and the risk would be enormous .
I feel sorry for the people who lie before, during and after the expedition. Spending three months on a team full of weak, deceptive and lazy losers? I’d rather have refused.
There were three or four good climbers on the K2 team. These are Marchin, Adam, Rafal and young Maciej. But it was impossible to act in the swamp created by the other climbers, by the organization and by the director of the expedition. In fact, in recent years we have observed almost a complete zero in the true Polish style of high altitude climbing. Yes, there was Andrzej Bargel. I appreciate what it does, but it’s something different.
Many words, too many excuses, this was the reality I saw. Many words have been spent on the heroic past, on the successes of Chihi, Kukuchka, Kurtika and others, but the latest generation is not ready for sport climbing.
Recent successes for Polish mountaineering? Peter Moravsky winter climb on Shishapangma and my new route on Gasherbrum II. It doesn’t seem much to me, right? In case I forget something, I apologize …
I don’t want to force anyone to be eight thousand, but I have to tell the truth.
I hope all that changes soon, the Poles have a good chance of winter climbing on Broad Peak, G1 and K2. New routes on the west face of Annapurna, on the north of Kanchenjunga. High-speed climbing on Broad Peak and Cho Oyu awaits true climbers.
And this could be “our music” in the Himalaya and Karakorum.
Many thanks to Denis, Elena Laletina of russianclimb.com and Matteo Gallizioli for their kidness.
Corrado “Korra” Pesce, born in Italy in1981, from Novara ; living in Chamonix since over a decade, he is a very strong climber; now more “transalpine french” than italian, as he himself feels, he has become an Alpine Guide in France, he got a family on the French side of Mont Blanc. He likes difficult and technical routes ; has climbed a lot in the Alps and in Patagonia. He has just published a nice, very interesting story of his latest climb on Cerro Torre on Instagram that we copied here. It is really interesting for having a look at the current and future prospective of Patagonian climbing. It should be remembered that for the whole month of January the weather was bad, therefore the window of good weather caused ….
A traffic day on Cerro Torre
written by Korra Pesce
February finally brought an extended window of good weather here in Chaltén. Together with Jorge Ackerman we went up Noruegos with the same heavy backpack we already had taken down to the valley ready to fly away from this mad place.
approaching Noruegos, Cerro Torre “Base Camp”
We knew conditions were hardly any good for rock walls especially on Torre. We decided to roll the dices on Tiempos Perdidos a route leading up the south side of Colle della Speranza, opened by Andy Parkin and François Marsigny in 1994.
Is a 800mt ice marvel unfortunately thretened by a massive serac. This route has seen repeats by some of the finest ice climbers ever visiting the range people like Bruno Sourzac, Bjorn Eivin Artun it was not completed to the summit until 2005 when Kelly Cordes and Colin Haley linked this route to the Ragni route all the way to the top.
We walked in on Feb 4th, the 5th we started from Noruegos in the afternoon and after basking in the sunshine under Mocho we slowly plodded our way toward our intended line. We were not sure about snow conditions untel we passed the shrund at around 9:30pm.
on Tiempos Perdidos route
The route was in mega conditions, unbelievable good snow all the way but impossible to place good protection regularly. We simulclimbed the route in 4:30 hours then climbed up along the Ragni until a good bivy place below the Elmo. At 2:30 am on feb 6th we sat down in our light bivy kit and waited for the light.
Elmo Col bivy spot
After a few hours sleep we quickly realized there were a lot of people above. The Ragni route is one of the most coveted routes in the range for obvious reasons and everyone wanted to make it to the top as early as possible.
It was clearly a mess of people like 7 parties ,and under these circonstances it felt like ascending Ama Dablam or a technical 8000er.
We started at 8:30 and joined the group ahead two pitches below the top, they had done a great job of cleaning an unusual amount of rime up to there. From there, one of the climbers of the second party took over.
If the parties below didn’t seem very psyched of seeing us passing our presence felt welcomed up there. Soon it seemed clear that someone will have to get very tired and wet by digging a tunnel on the last pitch.
I felt like my and Jorge presence up there were looked upon like something very useful, because we had already open the summit mushroom in past years. In fact we were only going to show that most people who had to dig the tunnel then will not be psyched to do it again, unless it’s really the only option available. Of what i remember of rime climbing is that i‘m notconvinced i‘m especially good at that ,and was pretty impressed of the work made by Fabi and now Christophe.
I wouldn’t dare pretending to lead or anything so we did not offer but were there in case they would run out of bullets. It could have been a chance of drying out in the sunshine but it was kinda cold and cloudy, we encouraged Christophe and waited.
top of mushroom, exit to summit
he first part had a natural half pipe and was quickly ascended. Come to the overhanging part in order to avoid a massive fall we encouraged him digging a vertical tunnel. After hours of digging he came down wet and tired by the exilarating venture which included a 10mt whipper that had us all a bit stressed.
In the meantime a large group of Italians gathered below the mushroom. They had no bivy gear contrarily to the first parties and were obviously super psyched about making it up asap. Edoardo Saccaro made an amazing job digging his way up. In the meantime the teams with bivy kit or tents prepared for a bivy.
traffic on Cerro Torre
When Edo eventually topped out all of the incertain of the situation disappeared. We all instatly knew we would top out. We let all of the people w/o bivy kit go and with Jorge we crawled in the bivy bag.
The following morning there were not one, not two but three ropes fixed, it was clear that no one really gave a shit about any strict climbing ethics and we were all just firing to the top without getting hurt. It honestly was obvious since longtime that the expérience was altered beyond return.
Jorge made a microtraxion lap and i did the only thing i could think of, warming my frozen body by jugging and taking pictures of the north face. We stand on the top just after sunrise.
Korra e Jorge ,Cerro Torre summit
The descend went really well and we crossed a lot of people on the way up. I wonder if the actual situation on Torre is any different from the time when there were pitons on the compressor route.
I really see that 80 to 90 percent of the people on Ragni are not doing any of the real workload this ascent require. A lot of people with limited abilities are still making it up. Good for everyone as long as no one will hurt himself. I saw how watered down ice climb tends to become way too popular and the problems will come with this overcrowding. More unskilled people will come giving a try, more guided ascents, more drones.
I will not return to the Ragni in the middle of the season. Good job to Fabian Buhl, Edoardo Saccaro and Christophe Ogier who were keen to embrace the hard work they are the one who climbed Torre we were merély standing on top of it. Still, psyched for simulclimbing most of 1300mt with Jorge.
#cerrotorre #liveclimbrepeat #lasportivagram
Korra Pesce and Jorge Ackermann
Thank you very much to Korra Pesce. All rights reserved by Korra Pesce, previously published on 3 posts Instagram @korra_pesce
“The Perfect Way / Nanga Parbat : Mummery Spur” is the posthumous book by Daniele Nardi, written with Alessandra Carati (writer, editor and screenwriter) released in November 2019 for Einaudi , available only in italian edition.
The tragic death of the italian mountaineer and his English partner Tom Ballard at the end of February 2019 on the Mummery Spur of Nanga Parbat, has transformed what was to be the story of a long journey towards a dream, into an intimate autobiography, full of self-criticism, sincere and conscious, raw in the contradictions and bitter in the narrative of conflicts and recriminations with others ; at the same time, full of an unstoppable passion, full of love for his wife, friendship, esteem and respect towards the mountaineers with whom Daniele Nardi shared challenging climbs, successes and failures. A story full of falls and subsequent redemptions, against adversity far more fearsome than some Himalayan wall : diseases, both physical as psychic. All of this, narrated between mountaineering feats of increasing thickness, maybe not outstanding but often in remote environments, with real exploration, especially on less famous but iconic and difficult peaks between 6000 or 7000 meters, both in Karakorum as in Himalaya.
The heavy emotional and moral burden of completing and publishing the book was taken on the shoulders of Alessandra Carati : without previous particular passion for the Mountains, much less towards extreme mountaineering, her acquaintance with Daniele Nardi – and with his family, his native environment – had turned into a friendship that led her to embark on the difficult winter trek to the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat, to share some days with . Alessandra wanted, not without hesitation and problems, to really try what extreme winter mountaineering meant. The motivation, she explained us in the following interview, was to understand what drives a man to live in brutal winter conditions, on colossal mountains. Nardi, in those days, showed her and then sent her an email saying that if he didn’t come back from the mountain he wanted her to finish writing the book.
“Because I want the world to know my story”
The first, clear feeling at the end of the reading, is that Nardi has written a sincere story, a true “naked self portrait” – unlike most books written by mountaineers, full of rhetoric, self-celebration or boring lessons of motivation , often lacking in self-analysis, a sight on their own contradictions and human miseries. This, together with the beautiful narrative style, is quite extraordinary, since one of Daniele Nardi’s biggest problems has always been the style of communication : often Gascon and slash, full of drama, over the top, bitter and sometimes lamenting, for the syndrome of isolation always suffered, he mountaineer “de Roma” [“born/of Rome”,ndR ] , nicknamed “Romoletto” [“the little king of Rome”,ndR] by Silvio Mondinelli, against the Northern Italian Alpinism entourage, With few sponsors and great difficulties in financing their own businesses.
It is certainly thanks to the great craft of Alessandra Carati that the reading flows pleasant, pressing and exciting; the narrative system is well structured on the five attempts to climb the Mummery Spur of Nanga Parbat, the large index of rock that points straight to the summit from the base of the Diamir, surrounded by drainage channels, overlooked by huge glacial evenings, accessible only by a dangerous and cracked glacier. The beginning of these attempts is represented by an email, affectionate and concerned, of a friend of Nardi, the great Canadian mountaineer Louis Rousseau, who tries to dissuade the italian from the Project of the Mummery, with touching and impressive words and motivations.
The Mummery : dream and obsession of Daniele Nardi, around which the rest of life flows and takes place; for each of these trials, the mountaineer’s thoughtful gaze on the Diamir wall shifts and lingers on the events of his life, his training as a mountaineer, the first solitary on the Grandes Jorasses at 19, the result of an irrepressible and early passion, developed during the family’s summer holidays in the Alps, and matured almost as a self-taught, even on the crumbly and not easy northern walls of the Central Apennine, on the Gran Sasso and on the Shirt.
Able to reach Everest in 2004, albeit with oxygen, then the middle peak of Shisha Pangma without oxygen. In 2006 he climbed Nanga Parbat via Kinshofer route and Broad Peak. In 2007 he was a expedition leader on K2 and climbed to the summit without oxygen – but a fellow expeditioner, Stefano Zavka, never returns from the mountain, having reached the summit well after sunset.
The book shows Nardi’s self-criticism, inexperienced in emergency management and especially the “after”, in communicating what happened to Zavka’s family. A ghost that will accompany him for a long time. The book continues with dry tales of past successes, does not linger on the mountaineering description of the climbs – except for the one that Daniele Nardi loved most, the new route traced on Baghirathi III with Roberto Dalle Monache, way not finished on the summit but remarkable in its development and difficulties on one of the most beautiful and coveted Himalayan peaks.
Paradoxically, winning the prestigious Italian Alpine Academic Club Council Award for this route, Nardi writes in the book that here begin “interference” to the pure love for the exploration of the high mountain : his desire to feel accepted and recognized by an environment that does not consider it as much as it would like, its desire for revenge, the need for visibility begin to affect its mind.
The story of the attempts to realize his dream, the way of the Mummery Spur- a goal for which he was mocked, blamed as suicidal, exalted, deluded even after death – continues between beautiful pages of mountain : especially in the story of the first attempt, 2013, teamed up with the great French mountaineer Elizabeth Revol; The duo reached the highest point ever reached on the Mummery, 6450 meters, about 250 meters from the end of the technical difficulties and the exit of the Sperone on the “great basin”, the plateau at 7000 meters, between the impressive columns, severe and dangerous, of the glacial evenings Incumbent. Then some words on the missed teaming up with Tomek Mackiewicz and Elizabeth Revol, the conflict of visions and objectives that separates them at Diamir Base Camp; conflict that is mitigated, by the fine words that Nardi reserves to both, full of great affection and esteem.
The fourth chapter – dedicated to the resounding breakage with Alex Txikon and Ali Sadpara at the beginning of 2016 , his partners on previous year during the attempt of First Winter, failed two hundred meters below the summit – is a very detailed account of an “announced conflict” : the Nardi’s attempts at mediation between Bielecki and Txikon, being the spanish worried by economical trouble, the incident on the wall where he saved the life of Bielecki himself ; Nardi’s obvious lack of motivation for Kinshofer route, the first conflicts with Txikon and Sadpara and mutual distrust, immediately, with Simone Moro ; the failure of Elizabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewitz bid, when at about 7300 meters, with the concrete prospect of a successful summit through the Messner-Eisendle route, they retreated after receiving from Moro weather forecasts revealed to be quite incorrect, perhaps the strangest event that year . This, confirmed by Filippo Thiery, meteorologist of Nardi, who told him that good weather was expected for 3 days ; he did not understand how Karl Gabl – a renowned meteorologist, Moro trusted expert – could have failed those forecasts [see the forecasts of these days]. While the French and the Polish quickly descended on January 22th, on January 25th Nardi, Txikon and Sadpara were at C3, at 6700meters, in good weather. And the Revol left the Nanga: she ran out of expedition time. The polemic and breaking tail between Mackiewicz and Moro was even bitterer [see Sources (1),(2),(3),(4),(5) below]
Then Moro and Lunger’s decision to join Kinshofer route. Daniele Nardi waited three years before explaining how he felt he came first to the decision, then to the break with the rest of the team, handing Carati the recordings of the dialogues at Base Camp and its version. Absolutely questionable version, of course, and biased : but in the book there is also this. And there is further criticism of Moro for letting Tamara Lunger retreat alone, in distress, on the fateful day of the First Winter on Nanga Parbat.
At the time, following that daily expedition, I was not surprised by the distrust of Nardi by Txikon, Sadpara and finally Simone Moro, until his ousting from the team . But no one emerges undepended from errors and ambiguous behaviors, in this chapter, albeit with different nuances. It is, of course, his own version: however, and it’s not negligible, the dialogues are faithful transcriptions of audio recordings – Nardi admitted it was questionable, but not illegal – according to the co-author and that the publisher Einaudi considered their publication lawful and transparent.
To date, several articles from the specialized press on the book have been published; it is curious, euphemistically speaking, to note that any journalist had the curiosity to speak about or ask questions about this uncomfortable, bitter, questionable chapter which is an important part of the book that Nardi wrote.
Is up to the reader each thought or judgment on his own, about an issue that will no longer change anything : History is written and has erased old controversies. Nevertheless, this chapter of Nardi’s life reveals an unpleasant side that is generally preferred to conceal; it strips mountaineering from its supposed idealization, its being not exempt, as no human social activity is, from great rivalries, dirty games, miseries and opportunism. On the contrary: it amplifies to the extent of merits, qualities and fears, defects. Of all, no one excluded.
Certainly, Nardi was not capable of diplomacy and self-control confronting with more experienced climbers, during expedition. He paid a high price for this, even in terms of credibility. It must be said.
Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi. Nanga Parbat
The chapter of the “Fourth Attempt” continues with the story of the acquaintance with Tom Ballard, who sought Daniele Nardi, interested in his type of mountaineering: a friendship that was welded in 2017, in a interesting expedition to the remote Kondus Glacier, in Karakorum ; the duo climbed a rock route on an unknown 6000 peak in the Area, and an attempt on an iconic 7000 meter mountain, the Link Sar. The pair, after having opened over 1500 meters through a tricky glacier , until the first difficulties of the North East wall, will have to withdraw due to continuous avalanches and bad weather. Then there is the painful chapter of the Tomek tragedy and the rescue of Elizabeth on Nanga Parbat winter early 2018, when Daniele contributed concretely to the rescue efforts, coordinating and involving all his Pakistani contacts and providing useful information. The thoughts about Tomek, his personality and his intimate dreamer soul are very touching.
In the final chapter, the book’s narrative register changes: Alessandra Carati tells the story in the first person.
She retraces the trek to Base Camp, the difficulties and the frost, her intimate experience as a woman in the relationship with the locals, the enormous esteem and respect that all Pakistanis pay to Daniel, the delivery of materials and humanitarian goods in the very poor villages between Skardu and Diamir Valley; the friendship and good humour between Tom and Daniel, the fearful avalanche rumbles that dumped the mountain “whose bulk covers the sky and overwhelms you immensely”. Then the return to Italy, Daniel’s confident messages and those worried about the material buried by the avalanches.
Until the decisive moment : there is a window of discreet time, it is February 22nd, now for a month now the two are stopped at Base Camp, training on the sass doing drytooling, walking up only to Camp 1. They start with great determination, until the fateful 24th February, where they climb 300 meters of speron from the 6000m of the C4, a curtain in the wall. They are optimistic, full of joy that they communicate to Alessandra for satellite, they found the sack hanging on the wall, at the top. But they tried perhaps too much in the previous two days, with a pull and so much load of materials for the decisive attack. And the final hours, the silence.
The epilogue we know, Alex Txikon generously leaves K2 with a team to rescue and search for Daniel and Tom. After terrible days, between reconnaissance on foot and with drones, while a bad media debate rages, where Messner, then Moro and others claim the safety that the two were buried by an avalanche, that the road was almost suicidal [ see links in Sources]Tom was involved in a feat which was not his own and was not to be done as the first experience out of a 8000ers peak, the fan-tribes dividing and arguing on Social etc – the two unfortunate climbers were spotted by telescope, dead, not killed by an avalanche but hanging on the ropes, in perfect visibility even after 10 days since the accident, probably victims of a rappel accident and/or hypothermia. Their last phone call was reportedly at 8 pm on February 24th, at Base Camp: Daniel said they were coming down the wall, the conditions were terrible. Whatever the reason for leaving the tent and knowing that probably hypothermia was waiting for them into darkness, it was obviously a tragic , extreme and ultimate necessity.
The short epilogue is a touching testimony of life, of pure and sublime sensations on the Nanga and ends like this:
“at least once in a lifetime, everyone should meet a Daniele Nardi who with a smile urges you to go and see what there is beyond the line of the horizon, and to walk with him on the glacier”
Daniele Nardi came out of the scene with his flaws, his humanity as abrupt, distrustful, difficult and sometime ambiguous ; at the same time, as expansive, positive, full of love and an irrepressible passion for mountaineering and constant challenge in facing oneself’s demons. A burning passion that costed him a short life, but not lived unconscious .
A life that deserves respect, which arouses and provokes discussions but a worthy life: a man, a mountaineer who had courage both in the mountains and in testifying, above all, of his most intimate weaknesses without stopping to think positive, to try to get up at every fall to start over and improve; that in the history of Mountaineering will remain as the one who attempted “an incredible winter route, a direttissima, a fucking visionary route on one of the most feared mountains in the world” – as the mountaineer Louis Rousseau wrote to us: the Mummery Spur Route .
Interview with co-author : Alessandra Carati
Alessandra, yours is a solid resume of writing experiences for film and theatre and then as editor and ghost writer on very varied publishing projects; in 2016 you co-authored, with the cyclist Danilo Di Luca, of his autobiographical book “Beasts of Victory”, a harsh act of accusation (and self-incrimination) , of those who no longer have anything to lose and can finally speak in true freedom of the “system” against the huge problem of doping, an intimate unveiling of an athlete who confronts the hypocrisy of those who expelled him from the environment (disqualified for life) as a unique scapegoat of what seems an intolerable tangle of collective interests in sport.
I mention your literary curriculum because I have the idea that in part the meeting with Daniele Nardi has involved you and convinced you to work with him, for his experience – equally problematic, also for several reasons – in the environment to which he dedicated his life : Mountaineering. Is that so? What was, however, the decisive drive – for an author absolutely distant and not involved by a personal passion for the mountains – to undertake the writing of a book with a mountaineer ?
When I approached Daniel’s story, I didn’t know mountaineering and I didn’t know anything about the quality of the environment. I chose to embrace the project because Daniel intrigued me. As I wrote in the book and like many other people, I wondered why someone chose to test themselves so a mountain of 8000 meters, in winter, five times in a row. I wanted to understand what moved him, intimately and as a human being.
Reading the book, I found Daniel’s courage extraordinary for Daniel’s raw and sincere self-analysis, which spares no unpublished details about his period of depression and burnout, he does not discount mistakes in private life as well as those in some shipments, because of his character. Yet, the positive side, of pure sincere, gascon and empathetic passion emerges and is appreciated. How did you experience this contradictory aspect of Daniel?
Daniel was so many things together. Writing, fortunately, resists the temptation to simplisticly reduce people and protects against judgment. In doing so, it allows us to understand more, to accept more, to love more.
While working on the book, did you have to argue with him about how he wanted to expose his emotions, his ideas and the events that happened in the great mountains of Karakorum and the Himalayas?
There was no time to discuss the form with which to build the narrative. We worked together in the collection and choice of materials, then I proceeded to write alone, with all the decisions that come with it.
I cannot avoid to address to you a very sensitive and burning issue. Since the book came out, I have read articles and reviews but for anyone who has read it, there has been an almost total and deafening silence on a precise part: The Attempt Four, that is the 2015-2016 expedition with Txikon and Sadpara, lived between bitter polemics ; what surprised him, at the time, is that Daniel defended himself very tenaciously only from the accusations of Txikon (later turned out to be rather labile and unfounded) of non-financial contribution or even of having “invented” the fall on the Kinshofer wall . Daniel did not respond, punctually, to Moro’s strong accusations.This weighed heavily in the collective judgment towards him. As Daniel himself writes.
In the book it’s striking to read the brutal and polemical dialogues of what happened. And these dialogues differ from Moro and Txikon’s versions. I listened to your interview on Alessandro Milan’s broadcast on Radio24, where you say that the dialogues are written “to the comma” because they come from the recordings that Nardi made in the common tent, while the final meeting was taking place with all others. You said this was not illegal at all, so much so that Einaudi has assessed it as publishable without censorship. Do you confirm that? Has anyone contacted you to specify or disprove what is written? What do you think of the reaction of the press, by the way?
The scenes of the fourth attempt, which take place in the tent and which include Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, Tamara Lunger, Ali Sadpara and of course Daniele, have been reconstructed entirely from the recordings that Daniel had made. I did not draw the jokes and their content from a story mediated by Daniel, but directly and faithfully from the audio. They are the voices of the protagonists.
For example, there is a detail of the story on which conflicting versions have been given, and it is the way it happen the join the two expeditions. Moro stated publicly, in his book “Nanga” and in some interviews, to have been invited by Alex Txikon, while in the audio he repeats several times that it is he who asks to be allowed to join the Kinshofer team, so much so that it insists on how much money has to pay for the material and the work done in equipping the mountain. It is a subtle, yet substantial, difference because it defines the relationships of force, weights and the balance within the team that will attempt the first winter of Nanga Parbat.
No one has so far asked in any way for that part of the book, much less talked about it on printed reviews. Honestly, if I were a journalist, I’d be intrigued, I’d ask questions.
Let’s talk about to the most exciting and painful part, the one you practically wrote yourself. The final attempt: your decision to trek and spend days at Base Camp to really experience a winter expedition; the atmosphere between Daniel and Tom, the long waits and the tragic ending. How did you go through those terrible days? Have you thought about quitting everything, despite Daniel’s request in his famous email?
During the weeks of the rescue the project of the book did not even touch me, each energy, each thought were for Daniele and Tom. I was distressed to know how to lose them inside the gigantic Nanga massif. And then there was Daniela and Mattia [Nardi’s son,NdR], I couldn’t even imagine what they could feel at the time. Later I was tempted to let it go, but the will expressed by Daniele was very clear and his mandate nailed me. I gave him my word.
What conclusion, if ever, have you elaborated in your soul, about Daniel’s life and death?
I have no conclusions, no ideas, let alone opinions, about Daniel’s death. Everything I’ve touched, guessed and tried to shape is inside the book. Each reader can move from there to let the feeling with which to look at his figure, his life.
Interview with Louis Rousseau
Louis Rousseau is one of the strongest Canadian climbers. He was born in 1977 in Quebec and began to climb at 15 years old. Between 1999 and 2010 he climbed many peaks in the Andes, accumulating experience on the 6000ers. From 2007 he began to climb the great mountains of the Karakorum and the Himalayas, opening a partial new route on Nanga Parbat in 2009 ; he tried a new winter route on the South face of Gasherbrum I. He climbed Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak and attempted K2 several times. He climbed 7000ers peak as the Khan Tengri and the Tilicho Peak. Always without oxygen, pursuing the alpine style and following a very strong climbing ethic. His climbing partners on high altitude expeditions were Adam Bielecki, Gerfried Goschl, Alex Txikon, Rick Allen and many others.
How did you meet , if you did it live, with Daniele ?
I never met Daniele in person. Since 2015 we had sporadic contact via internet. I heard about Daniele after the 2011 Bhagirathi route and the 2013 winter attempt with Elizabeth Revol. After that, Alex Txikon contacted me to join him, Daniel and Ali Sadpara for the winter attempt of Nanga Parbat in 2016. I said no. Daniele invited me for the Nanga 2019 attempt but again I refuse and I tried to convince him no to go again. During the expedition we had regular contacts via WhatsApp especially when they lost a lot of equipment. I propose to send some equipment from my deposit in Pakistan. After all, it was ok, they had the essential to continue their ascent.
What do you think about Daniele, what impressions and feelings gave him to you – as climber first, then as a man?
Really motivated and goal oriented climber. He could climb hard technical routes as much as perform very well in high altitude. During our conversation, I could see that he was a real nice guy. Very idealistic and a dreamer who always want to improve and be a better version of himself. During our last conversation he told me one important thing, that he wanted: “to try to help people to change their life by inspiring them.» So for sure Daniele was a man who wanted to change the world around him, it was not about alpinism, collecting summits or seeking for first ascents, it was way more than about is own person.
I know he asked you to join in for his Nanga dream; then, you have some correspondence before telling him that you choose not to go in and asked him to rethink about it. Can you explain me, after your experience of a partial new-route on Nanga in 2009, what drove you to the feeling that you have done, with that mountain?
I will start my answer with something I wrote to Daniele : “You’ll find it a bit esoteric, but I believe in the curse of the killer mountain. There is something with Nanga Parbat that blinds us climbers and draws us even more towards danger compared to the other 8000m.” I think it is because of all the folklore around this mountain. When you start to read a lot about it, it turns into fascination and passion. It is really attractive and you want to go. Then, when I was there in 2009, two people lost their lives and there was a lot of discord after that. The recent history of winter attempts is also filled with discord, accidents, backstage games and now deaths. It is a real tragedy. There is no other words to describe the past few years. Just think of the 2013 terrorist attack. I saw Daniele go back into this again and I wanted to do something to discourage him. I asked him if he wanted to find a completely different and positive project with me, but he told me that : “if I change idea and I want to join him and Tom, to let him know.”
Do you think that danger starts, for a climber, in the moment he got too much emotional about a mountain, a goal ?
For a climber, danger starts as soon as he step inside the jeep that will bring him at the beginning of the trail going to base camp, that means at the very beginning of the expedition there is dangers. Mountaineering is an extremely dangerous sport. There are not many other sports in which you go on a vacation and you come back without your friend. Even if you are “too much emotional” about a project or a mountain, that does not mean that you are more in danger. Can this influence our decision-making? Certainly yes, or when there are other goals than climbing and feeling free, even goals that you don’t admit to yourself. You are always going to bring on an expedition the things that are not settled at home. Nothing that you will do in the mountains can resolve them, on the contrary.
I know that Daniele and Tom were professionals and they had the experience to climb Nanga Parbat in winter by a new route, but they unfortunately had a terrible accident. We will never know exactly what happened and it is terrible for the families. More than anything, we will never know their state of mind before the accident. Was it a distraction, was it a result of bad decisions like several accidents in the mountains? We do not know. What we do know is that the two climbers had strong experience and they completed each other very well in their team. Daniele had a solid high altitude and winter expedition background and Tom was one of the best technical climbers in the world. I don’t think their emotional state has anything to do with their death. It was a tragic accident.
Adam just released this statement, regarding their acclimatization goal :
“At last we can see our first goal – Langtang Lirung 7227 m. The local people, when they hear we want to climb it, react with laughter or disbelief . When we talk with them we slowly realize how serious our aclimatisation summit is. [..] the last ascent took place on 1995. The owner of our hotel promised that if we climb it we can drink for free all the alcohol he has in his restaurant “
Langtang Lirung is a beatiful and technical peak,located in Langtang Himal, rarely climbed in the past. First summit by a Japanese Expedition, 1978, through dangerous Lirung Glacier and East ridge, after 8 previous attempts.
Each face is a technical challenge.
In 1982, an italian expedition led by the great climber Bruno Crepaz summited Langtang, but Bruno died on descent .
His huge 3km South Face, still unclimbed, it’s the most technical and dangerous.
Described by an English team (*) in 1980 as a continuous ” train of avalanches through all the face channels”, the last climber who tried it was Tomaz Humar, who died on the wall in 2009 after suffering a fall, at about 6000 mt. His body was found by a rescue team by heli much lower than he reported by radio on his last call, at 5600 mt .
Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov, a couple of extraordinary Russian mountaineers – already winners of the Piolet D’Or in 2017 for the incredible new route opened on the north face of the Thalay Sagar, “Moveable Feast“, a plumb line – are on the Jannu (7710mt) since 16 days.
They succeeded in the extraordinary feat of climbing the inviolated East wall, after which they then top out on the SE ridge at about 7400 meters and began the descent 11 very tiring days, of which the last 4 passed over 7000 meters under very heavy snowfall that forced them to stop for a long time.
This morning, at 12 o’clock local time, mountain.ru dispatched that Eliza Kubarska – Polish mountaineer and director, who joined the expedition to shoot a film – and who now leads the rescue team that moved to the South to wait for the two, announced, more or less:
We found the passage from the saddle to the bottom of the glacier. The difficulties are behind us. The guys are at Col of Youngsters, approx 6050mt”
We need to remind that the duo attacked the East face without adequate acclimatization, reason that convinced the third participant in the team, the Polish Marcin Tomaszweski to withdraw, considering the dangers too high (avalanches, bad weather, poor acclimatization). The two climbs in alpine style, have run out of food and gas reserves during the descent.
An incredible Odyssey, a test of superhuman resistance, which we all hope to close positively within a very short time.