There are too many people at 8000 meters, and each one is trying to complete the collection of 14 mountains higher than that fateful altitude. For those who do not aspire to the collection but nonetheless aim to reach the summit without a thought that in 95% of the cases it means climbing the “normal” route which though difficult, represents the first an ascent made half a century ago. Another fashion is of achieving the first ascent of one’s “category” on “X” summit; the first Italian, the first American, the first Senegalese, the first deaf man, the first lame man, the first woman, the first man to walk up backwards, the first white man, black, yellow, the fastest, the most handsome, the richest, the….most stupid. I myself have had encounters with some of the above and I myself have “sinned” by climbing up the normal routes, but I now understand that real alpinism travels along other tracks towards a vertical adventure, physical and mental. I therefore attempted, sometimes successfully, or by failing, winter ascents, new routes, traverses, speedy ascents, trying to grab the baton left by the great alpinists of the past. I tried in a few words to create my own alpinism, and not to clone what had been done so well in the past. Today’s extra-European alpinism has been reduced to shortsightedness with little imagination. With a few pleasant exceptions, alpinists are all categorized in the same way in terms of their climbing, thinking, in talking about themselves and in the way they conceive their direction and mountaineering “career”. Virgin mountains, new routes on unknown faces, repetitions of climbs achieved only once and never again revisited, winter ascents, traverses of a number of mountains and many other forms of alpinism are lacking from the current trend of mountaineering. There are very few people who undertake this new type of adventure, and are mainly from Eastern Europe or nonetheless rare individuals from the national and international panorama. The reasons for this are many, amongst the main reasons is the inability to accept a potential failure and the difficulty in terms of appealing to the greater public concerned that there will be no comparison with the 8000 meter ascents (if 6000-7000 meter peaks are chosen.) One needs only to look at any internet site in the pre-and post-monsoon seasons and you will be overwelmed by information regarding climbing on the highest peaks of the world…but for goodness sake…they are all the same, all in line.
Climbing mountains is always filled with uncertainty and hard work, I am the first person to confirm this, but as well as the physical effort one needs imagination, inventiveness, and a hunger for the unknown and adventure. It’s not whether or not you have a satellite phone that eliminates these assumptions. By using communication instruments, great pages of true alpinism can be told as well as very boring titanic exertions dragging oneself up a summit which has already been climbed a hundred times in the same style and along the same route. Even being unsuccessful acquires another flavor if one has attempted to play an innovative mountaineering match, different from the usual and current clichés. The most frequent questions asked in the global village of alpinists and mountaineering fans are “How many 8000 meter peaks have you climbed?” or “How many times have you climbed Everest?” and this now seems to be the measure by which to list and attribute merit. If you attempt a different type of alpinism, express yourself in many different languages or write books (and not let someone else write them for you), if you move well on all terrain (rock, ice, mixed), if you can recount what you do and what you feel in a fluent way, if you declare successes and failure with the same tone of voice, you are seen in a bad light and not tolerated in the eyes and minds of the main characters on the alpinism stage. Criticism and mistrust are the reactions to the above qualities. Messner, on the other hand, still the “number one”, should have taught something in terms of versatility of physical sporting aptitude and mental and entrepreneurial qualitie. – Reflections from Simone Moro