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[pct-l] Re: Today's Wall Street Journal
- Subject: [pct-l] Re: Today's Wall Street Journal
- From: Lonetrail at aol.com (Lonetrail@xxxxxxx)
- Date: Thu Dec 11 08:46:54 2003
Here is something interesting. I had the pressure of meeting Reinhold some
years ago. As usually as in the case of all great mountaineers he was inspiring.
> By CHRISTOPHER RHOADS
> >> Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
> >> STAVA, Italy -- On June 27, 1970, Reinhold and Guenther Messner
> >> stood atop the 26,650-foot Nanga Parbat, a western Himalayan peak
> >> and one of the world's highest.
> >> The young Tyrolean brothers had just become the first climbers to
> >> scale the peak's southern wall, considered the highest and
> >> biggest mountain face on earth. Then Guenther, 24 years old,
> >> began to suffer altitude sickness, which forced the brothers to
> >> take a different descent down the unexplored western side of the
> >> mountain, as Reinhold, then 25, later told the story. On the way
> >> down, according to Reinhold, an avalanche swept the weakened
> >> Guenther to his death.
> >> Despite the tragedy, the remarkable climb launched the career of
> >> Reinhold Messner, who went on to become one of the world's
> >> greatest mountaineers and adventurers. He was the first to climb
> >> Mount Everest without oxygen, the first to scale all 14 of the
> >> world's 26,000-foot peaks and the first to traverse Antarctica
> >> without machines or dogs. He has earned millions of dollars from
> >> sponsorships, speaking fees and more than 40 books. In 1999, he
> >> was elected to the European Parliament as a member of the Green
> >> Party representing his native Tyrol in northern Italy.
> >> Now, more than three decades after the climb that changed Mr.
> >> Messner's life, the events on Nanga Parbat are threatening to
> >> ruin his well-cultivated reputation.
> >> For the first time, four of the surviving members of the 1970
> >> expedition have broken their silence about what happened. They
> >> accuse Mr. Messner, who is now 59, of lying about the events and
> >> placing his goal of personal glory above the safety of his
> >> brother. His much heralded descent, they assert, was not a
> >> necessary emergency route, but, rather, part of a plan he had all
> >> along to achieve the first ever traverse -- up one side, down the
> >> other -- of a 26,000-foot peak. They believe Guenther died
> >> somewhere near the summit, after Reinhold abandoned him. "Not
> >> even the emergency condition of your exhausted brother could keep
> >> you from your ambitious goal," wrote Hans Saler, a member of the
> >> team, in an open letter posted last year on the Internet.
> >> DOW JONES REPRINTS This copy is for your personal, non-commercial
> >> use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to
> >> your colleagues, clients or customers, use the Order Reprints
> >> tool at the bottom of any article or visit: >>
> HREF="http://www.djreprints.com/">www.djreprints.com. ? >>
> >> mples.pdf">See a sample reprint in PDF format ? >Order a
> >> reprint of this article now. A furious battle has erupted,
> >> in the German-language press and in the courtroom. The
> >> accusations fly in several new books relating to the expedition
> >> that have appeared in the past two years, including two by Mr.
> >> Messner himself and two by fellow climbers from the 1970
> >> expedition. He is suing to have books written by Mr. Saler and by
> >> fellow-climber Max-Engelhardt von Kienlin taken out of print
> >> temporarily so that what he considers inaccuracies can be
> >> corrected. The climbers are testifying now in a state civil court
> >> in Hamburg, Germany.
> >> "Once you lose your credibility, you can never restore it," says
> >> Mr. Messner, in the kitchen of the restored 13th-century castle
> >> where he lives, perched on a 3,000-foot cliff in the Tyrolean
> >> Alps. "The only way I can prove my case is to find my brother."
> >> To this end, Mr. Messner is now preparing to return to Nanga
> >> Parbat to scour the avalanche field on the western side of the
> >> mountain for his brother's remains -- to prove that he did not
> >> abandon Guenther at the top. He visited the mountain in October
> >> to begin training local villagers to help with the search. "I
> >> will do it as long as it takes," he says.
> >> Located in the western Himalayas of Pakistan, the summit of Nanga
> >> Parbat wasn't reached until 1953, when Hermann Buhl, another
> >> Tyrolean, made a controversial solo dash -- against the wishes of
> >> the trip leader -- from his camp below the peak. Mr. Buhl's
> >> aggressive single-mindedness deeply influenced the young Mr.
> >> Messner, who calls him his model as a climber.
> >> The plan for the 1970 expedition was to try to repeat Mr. Buhl's
> >> feat but this time by scaling the previously unconquered southern
> >> wall, called the Rupal Face. The first sight of the mountain was
> >> "overwhelming," wrote Guenther, in his journal dated May 15,
> >> 1970. "Huge hanging glaciers, terrifying precipices, furrowed by
> >> avalanches. Right over to the left is the summit of Nanga!"
> >> At 2:30 on the morning of June 27, Reinhold set out alone from
> >> the highest camp in the 25-below-zero darkness up the face. He
> >> had no pack or provisions, since he figured to be back that night
> >> and wanted to travel light. He was climbing alone because the
> >> team had decided that if the weather was bad, they would scrap
> >> the group climb and let Reinhold try a sprint for the summit. The
> >> weather actually was good -- clear and sunny -- but the
> >> expedition leader at the base camp mistakenly fired the signal
> >> flare for bad weather.
> >> Late that morning, sensing he wasn't alone, Reinhold turned to
> >> find Guenther following him up the face. Guenther knew Reinhold
> >> would make the summit in the clear weather and grew frustrated
> >> that he wouldn't share the summit with his older brother,
> >> according to a climber who was with Guenther when he set out
> >> after his brother.
> >> The two made the top together late that afternoon, when Guenther
> >> began showing signs of altitude sickness.
> >> What happened next is in dispute.
> >> According to Reinhold, Guenther said he was too weak to return
> >> the way they had come up and pleaded to go down the western side,
> >> called the Diamir Flank. Even though the risks on that route were
> >> incalculable -- since no one had done it -- Reinhold led his
> >> wobbly brother down the unplanned descent, he says. He happened
> >> to have a photo of the Diamir, which helped in finding a route,
> >> he says. After a night without a tent, Reinhold says he spent
> >> much of the next morning yelling for help.
> >> He exchanged a few words late that morning with two other
> >> climbers from the team who were making their way to the summit,
> >> but they weren't able to help from their location, says Reinhold.
> >> Later the next day, near the bottom of the mountain, Guenther
> >> fell victim to an avalanche, Reinhold says. The body was never
> >> found.
> >> Reinhold suffered several frostbitten toes that would later
> >> require amputation.
> >> The former team members now say it made no sense that Guenther's
> >> weakening condition would force the brothers to choose the Diamir
> >> side. If anything, Guenther's illness would be more of a reason
> >> to stick to the same route they came up, where there were fixed
> >> ropes, tents, provisions and other climbers, who could have
> >> helped Guenther down the mountain.
> >> Reinhold chose the other route because that was his path to fame,
> >> charges Mr. von Kienlin, a baron who became close to Reinhold
> >> during the trip. The sunny weather meant that other members from
> >> the team likely would also make the peak, he says.
> >> "To be one of a group of five or six on the summit was not the
> >> program for Reinhold Messner," says Mr. von Kienlin, wearing a
> >> pink shirt, gold tie, pin-striped pants and black leather boots
> >> in his antique-filled Munich home. "He wanted to be the next
> >> Buhl, and that required a Buhl moment."
> >> Mr. von Kienlin and other team members say Reinhold had shared
> >> with them more than once in the preceding days his desire to
> >> descend the Diamir Flank, calling it the "next step" in the
> >> climbing world. He had shown them his photo of it. That he had it
> >> in his pocket on the summit that day was no accident, they
> >> assert. Mr. Messner admits he may have brought up the prospect of
> >> the Diamir, but, "I was just chatting like maybe in 100 years
> >> we'll be climbing on the moon."
> >> The other team members also question the brief exchange Reinhold
> >> had with the two other climbers he met during his descent. The
> >> lead climber of the two on the way up, Felix Kuen, and Reinhold
> >> agree on the rudiments of their conversation.
> >> "Hello," Reinhold called out when Mr. Kuen was about 300 feet
> >> away, though with a precipice between them. Guenther was not
> >> visible. Reinhold suggested Mr. Kuen take a slightly different
> >> summit route from the one he and Guenther had taken.
> >> Then Mr. Kuen asked, "Is everything OK?"
> >> "Yes, everything's OK," Reinhold responded. Mr. Kuen and his
> >> partner continued their ascent.
> >> After calling for help for more than three hours, why would
> >> Reinhold not mention Guenther's predicament now that help had
> >> finally arrived? Reinhold answered that way because at that point
> >> he was alone, Mr. von Kienlin says, and didn't need help. Instead
> >> of calling for help all morning, Reinhold had actually been
> >> looking for Guenther, whom he had abandoned at the summit the
> >> previous day, Mr. von Kienlin adds. Reinhold had confided all of
> >> this in him while recuperating after the team had reunited, Mr.
> >> von Kienlin says, but Reinhold later concocted his story, at Mr.
> >> von Kienlin's suggestion, to protect his budding career.
> >> Mr. Messner calls this nonsense. He explains that since the two
> >> climbers below had no rope, they could not have helped Guenther
> >> anyway. He adds that at that elevation, health is "relative." The
> >> brothers were still alive, so they were "OK," he says. Mr.
> >> Messner thinks Mr. von Kienlin has a motive for trying to destroy
> >> his name: Shortly after returning from the expedition, Mr.
> >> Messner fell in love with Mr. von Kienlin's wife. Though she had
> >> just given birth to their third child, she divorced Mr. von
> >> Kienlin and married Mr. Messner. Mr. von Kienlin says he got over
> >> the split years ago.
> >> Over the next 30 years, the story faded into mountaineering lore
> >> -- until Oct. 4, 2001. At a presentation in Munich launching a
> >> new book on the expedition's leader, Mr. Messner said that his
> >> brother's death "was truly a mistake of the other climbers' not
> >> going in the Diamir valley" to look for them. He then accused
> >> several of the team members of wishing for them not to return.
> >> Two expedition members in the audience were dumbstruck. The
> >> controversy that has followed hasn't hurt Mr. Messner's drawing
> >> power. Late last month, he delivered his first public account of
> >> the events, complete with a multimedia presentation, in a
> >> symphony hall in Munich. His tan, weathered face beamed from one
> >> of the two huge video screens behind him on stage. He eagerly
> >> signed his books for a long line of fans, before and after the
> >> presentation, and during intermission.
> >> "I am the only one who survived," he told the sold-out audience
> >> -- with ticket prices starting at $21. "So I am the only one who
> >> can say what happened."
> >> Mr. Messner says he had wanted to write about the trip for years,
> >> for his family and for his own peace of mind. Now, finding his
> >> brother's remains on the Diamir side, he says, is the only way to
> >> lay the matter to rest. The trip is planned for 2005.
> >> Write to Christopher Rhoads at >>
> >> om2