Loneliness, for example

by Lorenzo Piccoli


I read Marco Confortola‘s Giorni di Ghiaccio (The Ice’s Days). Confortola climbed several 8.000m peaks. He was one of the only survivors of the 2008 international expeditions on K2, when eleven mountaineers died. It was the worst single accident in the history of K2 mountaineering. That history is certainly worth reading, but I was more fascinated by some minor details. Here I put the original version in Italian and then my translation in English.

Può sembrare folle, lo so. Chi non conosce la montagna non può capire, ti guarda strano. E ti chiede: perché? Non e’ facile spiegarlo, forse e’ inutile farlo. Mi rendo conto, pero’, che nelle mie risposte ci sono alcune parole che tornano più spesso di altre, sempre le stesse.
Solitudine, ad esempio. A molti fa paura. Chi e’ nato in città, almeno immagino, fatica a stare solo. Per me e’ diverso. Anche se mi piacere stare in compagnia, passare qualche serata con gli amici, condividere certe emozioni con le persone che amo, ciò che mi fa stare veramente bene e’ camminare per le mie montagne, cavalcare la mia moto e percorrere strade poco battute, portandomi dietro pane, salame, vino rosso e un binocolo.

It may sound crazy, I know. Who doesn’t know the mountain cannot understand you, you look weird to them. And they ask: why? Not an easy to explain, and perhaps’ useless to provide. I realize, however, that in my answers there are the same words that come back all over again, always the same.
Loneliness, for example. Many are afraid by loneliness. Who were born in the city, at least I guess, have a hard time being alone. For me it’s different. Although I enjoy being with other people, spend a few evenings with friends, share certain emotions with the people I love, what makes me feel really good is walking on my mountains, riding my bike up the backside, carrying with me bread, salami, red wine and a pair of binoculars.

The following is not the story of the tragedy, but the story of a failure, when Confortola failed to reach the peak of K2 in 2004. I think failure is a fundamental part of life, and living with it is fundamentally important. Only those who never try are those who never fail.

Piansi per minuti che sembravano ore, non riuscivo a smettere, abbracciavo Giuliano e mi chiedevo perché, perché…
I giorni successivi, mentre attendevamo che i compagni della spedizione, quelli che avevano stretto i denti e conquistato la vetta, tornassero, stavo li, seduto davanti alla mia tenda, e guardavo la montagna. E piangevo, ogni giorno piangevo. Rivedevo, come in un film, tutto quello che avevo vissuto, rivivevo l’esaltazione, la sorpresa, la delusione. Non ero spaventato, non ero stanco, il corpo c’era. Era la testa che non funzionava, si era come inceppata.

I cried for minutes that seemed like hours, I couldn’t stop, I embraced Giuliano and I was asking why, why … The following days, while waiting the companions of the expedition, those who had conquered the summit, I was there, sitting in front of my tent, and watching up the mountain. And I cried, I cried every day. I saw again, like a movie, everything I had lived, relived the excitement, surprise, disappointment.
I was not scared, I was not tired, the body was there. It was the head that did not work, it was like jammed.

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