Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Meadow of Flowers

Nanga Parbat: Rupal Face
Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, we voyaged to Kashmir, to Gulmarg; the Meadow of Flowers. As we climbed the slopes of Mount Apharwat,   the mighty Rupal Face of  Nanga Parbat hove into view - the highest mountain face on Earth, rising  15,000 feet above its base. I remember ridge upon brown ridge, on top of each other, like ascending brush strokes,  culminating in that  crystal peak that Hermann Buhl first summited in 1953, solo, without oxygen, in an insane 40-hour effort,  spending the whole night 'asleep' standing on a narrow ledge, the vast abyss a couple of inches away.  Then later, in 1970, when the greatest, Reinhold Messner, finally conquered the Rupal itself, did he abandon his brother to die on the descent? What motivates the human spirit to these extremes? And, after our voyage, the paradise that is Kashmir slowly sank into chaotic, benighted conflict....

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