Nives Meroi: “Do it with patience and passion!”
There are mountaineers who in particular deserve their successes. Like Nives Meroi and Romano Benet from Italy. Without making a fuss about it, the two 55-year-olds have scaled eight-thousander after eight-thousander over the years and have remained true to themselves and their style: always en route in a small team, without Sherpa support, not using bottled oxygen. With the ascent of Annapurna, Nives and Romano completed their eight-thousander collection, exactly a month ago today – 19 years after their first success on Nanga Parbat, eight years after Romano suffered from aplastic anemia. Two bone marrow transplants were necessary to save Romano’s life.
Along with two Spaniards and two Chileans, Meroi and Benet reached the 8091-meter-high summit of Annapurna on 11 May. They became the first married couple who scaled all of the 14 highest mountains in the world. Nives was the second woman after the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who stood on all eight-thousanders without breathing mask. Meanwhile, Nives and Romano are back in Italy – and Nives has answered my questions, which I had sent to the couple after their success on Annapurna.
It was your third attempt on Annapurna after 2006 and 2009. How did you experience your climb? Did you benefit from your previous attempts?
Thanks to our previous attempts we knew the mountain’s dangers and risks that we should try to avoid as much as possible.
What did you feel in the moment when you reached the summit of Annapurna and realized that you really did it: all 14 eight-thousanders as a couple, without bottled oxygen and Sherpa support?
On top of an eigth-thousander you are only “halfway up”. Only after returning safely to base camp, you can say finally “summit”. And this, especially on Annapurna. I remember that in the morning, awakening at base camp, it took me a bit of time to distinguish dream from reality and realize that we really had been successful. Annapurna has been generous to us and gave us a very special climb to close our “necklace of eight-thousanders”. A climb “of other times” – by joining forces six mountaineers climbed this mountain in Alpine style.
You have worked so hard during the past years to fulfill your great dream, especially after Romano’s life-threatening disease. Are you now enthusiastic about what you have achieved or maybe even more burned out, exhausted?
Of course we are grateful and happy that we have been able to close our “necklace” but also aware that this is a stage on our way in the mountains. Not the goal.
Is there any message you have for young climbers looking for adventures on the highest mountains?
Do it with patience and passion! Step by step without looking for shortcuts, in an honest confrontation with the mountain and yourself.
Date11. June 2017 | 11:36