9.10.2016

Mountain: On Boukreev's Track 1

Risultati immaginiI have been on Anatoli Bukreev's track for a while now. I bumped into him for a chance but that match has been made in heaven as I quickly realised. My husband, wannabe mountaineer and a real mountain lover, got "The Climb" by A.Bukreev and G.W.DeWalt as a gift but he already owns one so he gave me the book saying I was going to love it. And yes I did! 
I read it in few days during the last Tour de France, then I read it again and again. I fell into the book and couldn't get out. How does it come?
Anatoli Bukreev wasn't a common man, and not just because of his achievements as a mountaineer but moreover for his human greatness. 
He was a very strong athlete and no doubt aware of it, but he was also a very modest, generous, friendly man with a deep and original concept of life. He was the best expression of the Soviet values: solidarity over egotism, sobriety over consumerism, responsability over personal ambition. And he stayed loyal to those values when the Soviet Union collapsed and he had to deal with a completely different approach to mountaineering, that was his life.
Copertina anterioreIndead, that's why "The Climb" touched me so much. It isn't about the sport, it's about the world we live in, where media's economic interests are more important than human feelings and the truth, where money are supposed to buy anything. Bukreev's suffered protest against commercial expeditions, in spite he was in desperate need of money to keep pursuing his goals, is exemplar. 
Money can buy you a place in commercial expedition to Mount Everest in spite of your health conditions, experience and shape but can't buy your survival. Unfortunately money can write and re-write the story so a famous - well paid - journalist can write a - best selling - false but exciting book like "In Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer and establish the main stream opinion about the fact. That's Capitalism and maybe you have seen the "Everest" movie, made accordingly with the Krakauer's book.
Copertina anterioreFortnately the mountaineering's community didn't buy it and Anatoli Bukreev was even awarded for his incredible rescue on Mount Everst in 1996. Unfortunately he suffered a lot because of the tragedy and its polemical follow-up, in a way that has probably affected his career and his life. Deadly. 
In August I was just back from a week camping and hiking in Parco della Pania di Corfino, north of Tuscany and looking for something to read in a small bookshop in Forte dei Marmi when I found "Climbing High: A Woman's Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy" by Lene Gammelgaard. I devoured it. It completes "The Climb", that's an objective reconstruction of the events, with a narration more attentive to personal relationships and feelings. A great reading too. Gammelgaard confirms Bukreev's version of the facts and gives a vivid portrait of him as a man.
However the best portrait's of Anatoli Bukreev is in his own words, collected, edited and published by his companion Linda Wylie in the book "Above The Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer". I'm reading it now.
Cometa sull'AnnapurnaBukreev was just died when the book appeared, killed by an avalanche on Mount Annapurna that he was trying to climb in winter together with the Italian mountaineer Simone Moro, the only survivor, and the Kazakh filmmaker Dimitri Sobolev. While waiting to get "Above The Clouds", I bought and read "Cometa sull'Annapurna" by Simone Moro: the story of the last Bukreev's expedition. 
Honestly I was surprised by the circumstances of his dead, and it seems I'm not the only one if Galen Rowell  in his foreword to "Above The Clouds" writes : "That it would be his last climb was not among my fears. He seemed to possess that rare balance of boldness tempered by self-restraint that keep so many great climbers alive. If he failed on Annapurna, I expected it to be the result of his own wise decision not to continue." 
I read "Cometa sull'Annapurna" to understand how exactly things had gone accordingly with the only survivor. I don't know Simone Moro personally so I have no reason to believe him or not to. I record his version and it really strikes me. 
Risultati immagini per anatoli bukreev
Anatoli Bukreev on the lefthand side playing guitar
First of all, Moro put the Annapurna's project in the context of his great friendship with Bukreev. He talks a lot about it and I can believe that meeting Bukreev has been important for him. He also says that they together conceived the project to climb Mount Annapurna in winter, by fair means. 
In "Above The Clouds" I can't find anything about it. In the foreword Rowell writes that Bukreev asked him "to join him on a winter ascent of the South Face of Annapurna in Decembre 1997", he didn't name Simone Moro but wonder: "If I had been there with Anatoli on Christmas Day, would either of us sensed the impending doom?". In Rowell's opinion Bukreev felt compelled to risk his life again to respond to Krakauer's insinuations and he seems to doubt that the relatively unexperienced Simone Moro was the best partner for the Annapurna's climb. However Moro was a strong rock climber, technically even stronger than Bukreev according to Moro himself, and he had sponsors...
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