Reinhold Messner on what is important in Life

Reinhold Messner has a passion for limits and was the first to successfully climb the 14 highest peaks in the world. All these peaks are in the Himalayas and he climbed them without supplementary oxygen. In the article below this 71 one-year-old Italian explorer give us his view on how he does things. It has a very strong message, which holds some powerful metaphors for everyday life. This is what he wrote in“Voices from the Summit”:

Danger, exposure, cold and difficulty are part of our mountain experience. These are what we fear and enjoy, and from them, we learn. And we will continue to learn in this millennium if we defend these values. Don’t sell them out. It’s so easy to sell out by building a cable car in the mountains, but by doing so; we steal the isolations and exposure from the mountains.

What’s important? At the end of our lives, it’s not important if we are rich or wealthy. At the end of our lives, it is important how many experiences we have lived through. For me, mountaineering is one of the best activities from which to become rich with experiences. We should not discuss ethics. We should save values. Mountains without danger are not mountains.

We should not make rules for others. I have only rules for myself. First, I never go where others are going. I climb on my own or with a small group. Second, I push myself only to my limits, never above them. Passion for limits is my motivation, and this could be a good slogan for mountaineering in the new millennium. The third thing is that I don’t leave any infrastructure behind: no bolts, no fixed ropes, no camps.

In my entire life, I have never placed a bolt and I never will; if I cannot do it without one, I don’t go. I have never used oxygen bottles; if I cannot climb without supplementary oxygen, I don’t go higher. It’s not a difficult decision. And I will never carry a telephone or have a handset with me in the wilderness. To do so would mean destroying the sense of isolation and exposure I seek. If I can call out, I’m no longer on the edge. These are my self-imposed rules. Now, getting older I simply dream of climbing lower mountains and skiing across smaller ice caps or deserts. I try to do so with less support. And after my political life as a nomad, I will spend half a year or more in the wilderness with only a rucksack – and nobody will know where I’m going.