Kathmandu, May 28
Reinhold Messner, one of the world’s greatest mountaineers of all time, said today that most of the foreigners who came to Nepal to attempt to climb mountains, including the world’s highest peak, were only tourists, not real mountaineers.
Talking to THT on the eve of 10th Sagarmatha Day, the legendary mountaineer from Italy said, “Most of them are just tourists, not climbers.”
The country is all set to observe Sagarmatha Day tomorrow to commemorate the heroic achievement of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who were the first to scale Mt Everest on 29 May 1953.
Messner is the first climber to reach the summit of Mt Everest without oxygen support and is also the first person to climb all 14 peaks above 8,000 metres.
“What is happening today, especially on the big mountains, is not alpinism,” the climbing legend said, stressing a need to promote traditional alpinism to safeguard the value of real mountaineering. “Most of those who are on mountains follow the prepared pista (an ice track) to reach the summit,” he claimed, adding that Sherpas were bearing the brunt to facilitate others to scale mountains.
Messner, 72-year-old father of four, has devoted 30 years of climbing to promote traditional alpinism. He remembers climber Ueli Steck, who died in a recent accident on Mt Nuptse, and a few other mountaineers, including Alex Txikon, for practising alpinism. He said he was worried that norms of alpinism that Hillary and Tenzing set were fast eroding. “Hillary and Tenzing didn’t open the door to Mt Everest summit in reality but they really ventured out into the unknown, which is real alpinism,” added the alpinist who lives in South Tyrol, Italy.
‘Climbing indoor’ is different but traditional alpinism is all about ‘climbing on the rocks’ by directly getting exposed to nature in its purity, Messner said. “I am not against tourism, as Nepal needs tourists now more than ever,” the mountaineer, who has crossed the Antarctic, Greenland, Tibet, the deserts Gobi and Takla Makan on foot, added.
The author of more than 50 books said he recently visited Khumbu region to shoot a film on Mt Amadablam, a holy mountain.
A version of this article appears in print on May 29, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.