10.25.2016

Mountaineering: Danilo Callegari talks about his ascent of Manaslu


Danilo  Callegari (born in 1983) is an Italian mountaineer, cyclist and adventurer. The list of his adventures can't be long - he's just 33! - but impressive and various. He waked the whole perimeter of Iceland, rode his bike in the Himalaya mountains, sailed in the icy waters from Cape Deseado (Pacific Ocean) to Point Dungeness (Atlantico Ocean), climbed  Cerro Aconcagua, Elbrus, Shisha Pangma and  Kilimanjaro. 
Now he's in Kathmandu, enjoying a well deserved rest after his ascent of Manaslu. He wrote a diary of his adventure and in the last entry he says: "Thinking now about the whole ascent it seems to me that a whole life has passed since those days: cold, hard but extremely exciting. I bring in my heart each moment I spent up there. Moment as long as eternity, each step a break, you breath full-throathed but oxygen in the air is so rarefied that you are forced to breath  full-throathed again. The cold you feel is more than the real cold, and not only because of the strong wind but also for the lack of oxygen. Your blood become denser and denser, and as a consequence its circulation get difficult and slower, that's why the extremities of your body like fingers, cheeks and nose begin to have some problems. Acting in self-defence your body concentrates the most of your blood in your vital organs, that are working hard already due to the demands of the climbing performance.
In the mountaineering jargon the area beyond 7.500 m of altitude is called the “Death Zone”. Slowly your body begins to die, and upper you go, faster it degenerates. You feel tired, cold, sleepy, you experience an unbelivable exhaustion, you falter but you don't want to stop, charmed by the summit up there, so high, as if it was a magnet to which you can't resist anymore.
Even eating it's hard at a very high altitude, because nausea becomes your mate in the adventure, but you know that you must eat anyway if you want to go on, so you swallow “high-tech” food without thinking to their taste, because you are just interested in the summit up there, towering toward the sky. You don't feel thirsty but you know you must drink anyway, and the last thing in world you feel like to drink in those moments is warm water soiled by tea bags and mineral salts, but the only drinkable thing you find up there is warm water soiled by tea bags and mineral salts. You dream about a fresh mojito or a fragrant gin tonic to drink siting in the shadow of a Caribbean palma tree... you are instead at 7.400 m of altitude inside a small tent bent with strong gusts of wind at minus 20 degrees.
All that has got a name and its name is “resilience”."
The guy can write. And he really sounds a good guy: in the end of this diary page he talks about his future, still uncertain but that he wants to be adventurous, then says:
"I have to quit you now because since today and for the next 12 days I'll be busy bringing around the most fascinating areas of Nepal the most important woman of my life: my mom!"
A good guy, definitely. And a lucky mom!

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