(Below is a brief exchange from My Life at the Limit, in which interviewer Thomas Hüetlin speaks with Reinhold Messner in an one-on-one format)
In what way was that trip (1969) a career-changing event?
It turned out to be quite a spectacular change, but that aspect of it wasn’t important for me at the time. I never really thought about careers. What’s more important is the fact that at that moment I finally gave up the idea of leading a middle-class way of life. I was totally unhappy at college. I somehow had the feeling I was missing out on life. I had been trying to finish my engineering course with the best intentions in the world, but I was just forcing myself to do something I didn’t really want to do.
And then these Innsbruck climbers called me, three days before they were due to leave for South America. They had been planning their expedition for a long time, but I didn’t know much about it, only that my climbing partner Sepp Mayerl was on it, and Peter Habeler, the brilliant Zillertal mountain guide. I knew both of them well from the routes we’d done together in the Alps. I was told that someone had dropped out, so I could come along if I wanted. Tickets, equipment, everything was sorted out, and the clothing would fit me more or less. I wouldn’t have to pay for anything. I had three days to get a visa.
The Andes expedition was the perfect thing for me. I came home fit and more experienced, having climbed two big mountains——Yerupaja Grande and Yerupaja Chico——by new routes [see Free Spirit: A Climber’s Life] and I was hungry for the Alps. I subsequently set about breaking some of the last big taboos in alpine mountaineering.
At the time, 1969, the north face of the Droites was the hardest ice climb in the Alps. It had only been climbed three times, and never without falls. The first ascent took six days; the fastest, three days. I had attempted the face with my brother in 1965. We got scared and backed off it. Since then, no one had been able to climb it.
Ice lower down, mixed climbing——rock and ice——above. Back then, we just had ice axes, no modern ice tools. I set off early, at first light, with my axes and crampons, and a rope tied around my waist. Nowadays the route is no big deal, but back then it was scary. By midday I was at the top, watched by some aspiring mountain guides from Chamonix. That got me known in France and brought me my first advertising contract. It was the start of my professional climbing career.
Read the rest of the excerpt from My Life at the Limit at Mountaineers Books.
The Front Yard Forager author Melany Vorass Herrera brought New Moon Farm Goat Rescue & Sanctuary to the attention of goat-loving project editor Mary Metz. New Moon takes in goats that have been abandoned, abused, or otherwise neglected by their owners—and the Sanctuary is now soliciting donations to keep the good work going! See their website here for details.
If only all goat owners would first read Jennie Grant’s City Goats! Her ponders critical questions like “Legalizing Goats in your City” and methodically addresses the pros and cons of goat ownership. Anyone considering adding “livestock” of any sort to their family farm should consider the issues raised in Jennie’s book. Goats are great companions—but, as with any relationship, they take work and commitment.
(An excerpt from The North Cascades by Richard Louv)
For anyone who has ever lived within visual range of the great mandibles of the Northwest, the North Cascades and the Olympics, the distant sawtooth ridges left their mark. My family lived for a year and a half in Seattle. From my attic office window, when the rain and mist lifted, I could see the Olympics. When my wife and I walked up the hill behind our house, and looked toward the east, we could also see that other range of distant peaks, which somehow seemed more mysterious, a lost world. Exploring them, we saw and felt the massive strength of old-growth cedar and hemlock, saw the dark hanging moss, entered groves and open meadows pinned by shafts of light, emerged to the long sky and sudden granite spires sharp enough to pierce the heart. We were changed by the nature of this place, nurtured by its beauty, humbled by its danger.
Over the past two decades, researchers have attempted to calibrate the benefits to human health of urban parks and wilderness forests, rivers, of our contact with other species, of star-filled nights seen from a sleeping bag rolled out near a mountain meadow. A growing body of evidence indicates that people of every age who regularly recreate or learn in more natural environments are physically and mentally healthier, happier, and test better in school. Science can never take the full measure of the value of the natural world; in fact, scientists struggle to even define “nature” (we know it when we see it), in part because humans are nature – the watcher being watched. Nonetheless, a growing body of evidence, emphasizing the impact of nature experience on human health and cognitive abilities, does provide a fresh argument for the protection of wilderness and the expansion of nearby nature, but also for cities as potential engines of biodiversity. This argument includes but goes beyond the usual list of benefits, among them the extractive value of natural resources, the efficient engineering of watersheds, the necessity of clean air and drinking water, or even traditional measures of beauty.
Read the rest of the excerpt at Mountaineers Books