Nirmal Purja's big surprise

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By CAPosts 19 January, 2021 - 04:17pm 79 views

The 10 Nepalese mountaineers who ascended K2 last Saturday, photographed back to base camp. Nirmal Purja is second from the left, squatting and wearing sunglasses.

The conquest of the K2, in the summer of 1954, as now its first winter season, also saw an episode related to the use of bottled oxygen. A huge Italian expedition planted Lino Lacedelli and Achile Compagnoni on its summit, two who swore and perjured that they did not use artificial oxygen to sign the first ascent of the second highest mountain on the planet (8,611 meters). At the time, no code of ethics required mountaineers to dispense with the precious cylinders, and even less to circulate at 8,600 meters. But they both lied (out of vanity?) And it took decades to admit it. A year earlier, in 1953, Edmund Hillary refused to set foot on the summit of Everest when his Nepalese partner, Tenzing Norgay, wanted to give him the honor of conquest. "You're at home, you have to be the first," Hillary reasoned.

The top photo shows Norgay holding an ice ax with two flags: the Nepalese and the United Kingdom, a very similar image to the one he just posted. on his social networks Nirmal Purja, one of the 10 Nepalese who signed the first winter summit of K2 last Saturday and the only one who does not belong to the Sherpa ethnic group. His past in the British Army as a Gurkha soldier in the special forces explains the display of both banners. The use of bottled oxygen is back on the agenda at K2, and if it was surprising that the Italians claimed not to have used it, equally unexpected was the announcement that there was a member of the team, Nirmal Purja himself, who ascended without bottled assistance . There is no reason not to believe him, and many to take his hat off to the mountaineer who has already collected the 14 highest peaks in the world in just over six months.

There may be a debate about ethical nuances: his colleagues They opened the trail and placed the fixed ropes, his team would have assisted him in a pinch, a rope of two and without bottled oxygen could have signed an even cleaner and more meritorious climb ... but none of this diminishes the fierce, efficient and beautiful management of a team of 10 that reached the top of the hand. "We have nothing to teach them and it would be good if we learned something from them, especially if we consider how badly the Westerner has treated them," sums up Alberto Iñurrategi, one who knows what it means to climb the 14 eight-thousandths.

Nirmal Purja says that taking The decision to do without bottled oxygen was a complex task: “I admit that I had always used artificial oxygen above 8,000 meters, but I knew that up to that point my body works very well, so I had strong reasons to believe in me. However, the maximum altitude at which I could sleep was 6,600 meters, and that is not enough in terms of acclimatization, so it was not clear to me and I was afraid of slowing down the rest of the team and putting them in danger. The safety of my team has always been my top priority and in fact no one in 20 expeditions has suffered any harm. Personally, I am not concerned with the debate about the means of climbing a mountain, about what is ethical and what is not. Nature and mountains belong to everyone: follow your own call! ”

Nirmal's speech, without being erroneous, too easily ignores decades of mountaineering history: the means chosen when facing a mountain do matter in the world of mountaineering because they define the real value of the company in technical and commitment issues. It is not the same to reach a summit by cable car than to do it on foot, and from this crude example it is easy to understand that in the 21st century certain mountaineers refuse to climb as in the old days and prefer paths of difficulty, exploration and maximum uncertainty to conduct the game from mountaineering to unthinkable altars.

Still, no one denies the enormous value of what the Nepalese team achieved in the winter K2 . "Now those who wish to try winter K2 in roped will have less pressure," says Simone Moro, the Italian who resurrected in 2005 the abandoned taste for winter eight-thousand and who has first climbs to Shisha Pangma, Makalu, Gasherbrum II and Nanga Parbat .

An atypical trajectory

The mountaineering world especially celebrates the final emancipation of Himalayanism from Nepal. A glance at the résumé of the 10 Nepalese who have just conquered the winter K2 is simply overwhelming, including a European-trained guide, Mingma G, who accredits the UIAGM credential, the benchmark qualification. The atypical mountain path of Nirmal Purja is not without attention: the first time he put on crampons was in 2012, a meager period of time when compared to the European philosophy that considers that learning about the mountain begins with Little to leave the cradle.

Purja does not need, instead, lessons in logistics and strategy: the ability of his team to successfully overcome the challenges in the highest mountains of the planet has something supernatural, since he is not known resignation any. However, his voracious passage through the eight thousand serves to ruin the aura of a scenario that the passage of time never just feels bad.

Source: Elpais

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