Interview: ‘I cannot stop coming to Nepal annually,’ says veteran climber Messner
Born in Italy in 1944, world’s famed mountaineer, researcher, filmmaker and travel writer Reinhold Messner was on a tour of Nepal recently. Messner has scaled all 14 eight thousander Himalayan peaks. He has affectionate inclination to Nepal’s art, culture and tourism. The 77-year-old Messner has deep interest in Nepal’s Himalayan trekking. His love for Nepal is reflected from his 50th tour to Nepal.
Having started his mountaineering career since 1970, he was the first to scale Everest on solo expedition. Likewise, he has scaled Everest without using supplementary oxygen together with Piter Habeler.
He has scaled Nanga Parbat (8125m) twice in 1970 and 1978 respectively. His two-time summits to Everest (8848.86m) were in 1978 and 1980. He has climbed Kanchenjunga (8586m) in 1982 and 1984. Likewise, he climbed Gasherbrum I (8080m) in 1975 and 1984. He has climbed Manaslu (8163m), K2 (8611m) and Shisapangma (8027m) in 1972, 1979 and 1981 respectively.
He did climb Gasherbrum II (8034m), Broad Peak (8051m), Cho Oyu (8188m) and Annapurna (8091m) in 1984, 1983 and 1985 respectively. He climbed Gasherbrum II (8034m), Broad Peak (8051m) in the same year. He climbed Makalu (8463m) and Lhotse (8516m) in 1986.
Being the first one to cross across Antarctica and Greenland, he has also crossed Gobi desert. So far, he has authored more than 80 books.
Messner had arrived in Nepal to celebrate his New Year of 2022 with his third wife Diana Schumacher. He stayed few days at Namche and came back to Kathmandu. Before making his departure from Nepal, Messner talked to RSS’ Chief Correspondent Krishna Adhikari at Kathmandu Guest House. Excerpts:
RSS: What motivates you to travel Nepal?
Messner: Even since I first came to scale Nepal’s mountains, Nepal’s natural beauty and Nepalese hospitality enticed me. I scaled Everest for the first time in 1778. Since then, I was motivated to scale more peaks. After scaling Nepalese peaks, I came to Nepal to understand Nepalese folks. I am happy to assist Nepal’s tourism promotion. The credit of my mountaineering success goes out to Nepal. I am highly impressed with Nepali art and culture. I am in love with Nepal’s cultural diversity and natural magnet. Nepal is a piece of heaven. I am often at loss of words to describe about Nepalese folks, Himalayas and natural beauty. I cannot stop coming to Nepal. I come to Nepal annually.
RSS: What are the visible changes on mountains, back then and now?
Messner: I have felt a huge difference in the last 50 years in Nepal’s mountain range. Back then, mountaineers weren’t informed on the mountains. They did not have much knowledge about location and topography of the mountains, route and timing of the ascent. They even did not have much idea about mountaineering gears and equipments. Mountaineering was full of risks. Sherpas were not knowledgeable about climbing. Now, there is huge knowledge and information on mountaineering. Sherpas has much stronger support.
RSS: Is there some impacts of climate change in Nepal’s mountains?
Messner: Despite Nepal’s negligible role in greenhouse gas emission, Nepal is hugely impacted by it. Nepal’s Himalayas have witnessed direct impacts of climate change. Manaslu and Ama Dablam have far less snow compared to previous decades. The all-weather snow-capped mountains have turned into black rocks. There are instances of glacial lake outbursts, melting of glaciers and reduction of snowing in the mountains. The ecosystem of the Himalayas has changed.
RSS: How can we minimize such events?
Messner: Industrialization, extensive use of vehicles, use of fossil fuels and consumerism has altered the climate system of the planet. Nepal needs to do something domestically besides raising voices of climate change in the international forums. It is must to have planned urbanization, use of green energy and change the lifestyle of people.
RSS: What is the potentiality of mountain tourism in Nepal?
Messner: Nepal has immense potentiality of mountain tourism. For this, Nepal needs to devise some strategic programmes. As Nepal is equipped with nature, culture and adventure, Nepal can tap this potentiality. Nepal’s 80 percent landmass is occupied by hills and mountains and out of 14 eight thousander mountains, eight are within Nepal, including the tallest one Everest. Nepal has major section of the world’s longest Himalayan range, which is also a good attraction for Nepal. For Nepal’s prosperity, mountain tourism needs to be developed.
RSS: You have contributed a lot to Nepal’s tourism in the international level. What are your plans in the days ahead?
Messner: My experience of climbing Nepal’s eight thousander mountains has been published in more than 80 books and journals. Many documentaries made by me have also contributed for Nepal’s publicity. As a brand ambassador of Nepal, I have given lecturers on Nepal’s mountains in Italy and many other nations. I have erected many museums in Italy depicting Nepal’s art and culture. These days, I am working for an art museum at Namche of Solukhumbu. It is planned to be inaugurated that museum situated at the tallest place of the planet in next year. As I have deep-rooted camaraderie with Nepal’s tourism, I am eager to promote Nepal’s art, culture and tourism in international area for all my life.
RSS: What is your feedbacks for Nepal Government, tourism entrepreneurs and citizens of Nepal for Nepalese tourism promotion?
Messner: Tourists do not come for an average experience. They do come for specific purpose. Nepal needs to systematize its historical monuments, tradition, culture, natural beauty, hospitality, adventure activities and the likes. Most of the climbers in Nepal touch down at Kathmandu and directly head for the Himalayan base camps. Once they return, they flew directly to their nations. Nepal needs to promote its art, culture and diversity to them. This will be a good help. Like the trend all around the globe, Nepalese, these days, are more indulged at their own gadgets, especially mobile phones. This has affected Nepal’s hospitality. People have stopped to greet and talk whole-heartedly. This has worried me. There is some progress in tourism infrastructures in Nepal. Still, three needs to have attention at secured and resourceful flight, hotel and trekking route. Attention is also required for protection and preservation of art, culture and diversity of Nepal.
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