When I first read this I thought that Anatoli Boukreev wasn't just a great mountaineering but moreover a great man, a man able to use his brain over 8.000 m as well as his heart, ready to risk his life to save other lives, but cleaver enough to prevent his ambition to kill him.
|The summit certificate|
The point is: what 'summit' means? and what 'climbing atop a mountain' means? such a mountain then, a 8.000 m giant covered in snow, with a serious risk of avalanches and a very narrow ridge. Manaslu is 8156 m, the eighth highest mountain in the world. Commercial expeditions have turned it in a crowded popular aim but it doesn't make it easier.
|The narrow summit of Manaslu|
Commercial expeditions shouldn't exist. People shouldn't be allowed to climb a 8.000 just because they can pay for it. The Nepali authorities are discussing a law aiming to make a selection based on experience, not on money. I think it's a good law, because in my opinion you can't stop a mountaineer who's ready to dare the mountain by fair means and you must stop an amateur who's ready to spend a lot to have it easier. Mountains, also the Alps, should be again a place instilling respect, honesty and a bit of fear.
Climbing a mountain by fair means require courage and realism. It isn't just the summit, it's the whole human experience that gives it its value. It isn't the picture, for sure. It isn't the certificate. The perfect ascent could remain a secret and keep all its meaning. It's a matter of awareness. That's why it's done. Otherwise it's a kind of exhibitionism, miserable and sterile.
Sharing such an experience is dangerous. Tempting, almost unavoidable. It makes it more real but probably poorer. Alienation and objectivation are two sides of the same thing. Writing is a fair compromise, a personal objectivation that is possible to share... However this is another story.