Nives Meroi, Romano Benet, Kangchenjunga and the beautiful silence
The thoughts of Manuel Lugli about the ascent of Kangchenjunga carried out on 17/05/2014 by the Italian alpinists Romano Benet and Nives Meroi.
And once again it's the silence that is striking. Even for those who, like me, know them well and are privileged enough to share a true friendship. I know all about their shyness and modesty, two traits that are inversely proportional to their terrifying determination and talent. And I also know their fundamental rule: first act, then talk. And not the opposite as some of their colleagues do, at times on the verge of being ridiculous. I know the clear and coherent path they have always taken, both in alpinism and in life in general.
We're constantly bombarded, in all areas of our lives, with statements, conferences, tweets, unsolicited thoughts, feelings, revelations, bright ideas and startling announcements about the supposed benefits of doing things and, even more so, by blather. A continuous cacophony throughout the day that prevents any real distinction between a true philosopher and a complete jerk.
"A people who are able to reconstruct the silence from the simulation of a dream" is what Ivano Fossati once beautifully sung. Case in point. It would be fantastic if we'd all be able, just as Nives and Romano were, to rebuild this beautiful silence starting from a dream. Their return to the top of the mountain that had supported them during that terrible descent, what else was it other than the simulation of a dream? And what else is, other then the simulation of a silent dream, high altitude alpinism? With all its non-existent voices and hallucinations, with its slowed progression due to lack of oxygen, just as in a dream, when you want to run but feel held back?
Once again Nives and Romano chose first to act in silence and to then talk about it later. The chose to reach the summit – before the others as is often the case – and only once safely back send a few laconic lines to say: Well yes, we reached the top of our twelfth eightthousander actually, without oxygen and without Sherpas, but you know all this already. This is their hallmark, it's their style. They don't do this to appear snobbish or haughty. Simply this is how they do things. Better still, this is how they are. Ever since ever.
And this time it wasn't abuot any old mountain, but a mountain they'd dreamt about on three seperate occasions: Kanchenjunga, the peak that marked a real detachment from their lives as alpinists and as a couple. That's where Romano first fell ill; it is there that he began his descent, both pysical and spiritual, into the dark tunnel of treatment; and it is there that Nives chose not to ascened but to remain at his side and help him descend. They had already attempted the ascent of Kanch in 2012, after Romano's treatment, but at the time he was unable to reach the summit. But, apart from a few strains, one could see that everything was back in shape, almost better than before: legs, lungs, and head. They only just missed out on the summit and they understood that it was only a matter of time. Time they found again, comprised of mountaineering and everyday life, with the awareness of being able to do draw up plans once again, of being able to program dates and places, for a dinner or an expedition. To enjoy an extended trip or the placid luxury of boredom.
The postponed appointment came about last Saturday at noon. I don't know exactly what thoughts invaded their minds once on the summit, I can only imagine. And rightly so. There are no technical details to go on, emotions told live via a blog or facebook page. Emotions as strong as these need to be digested and assimilated and Nives and Romano know this better than anyone else. Those who heard them speak at their lectures know how good they are at transmitting what they feel up there on the Himalayan giants, with images and in particular through their words. And words really need to be weighed carefully, must be carefully chosen to go straight into the heart and mind of the listener. They need a beautiful silence to come to life. All the rest is nothing but noise.