An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.
April 17th, 2017
Three. Love lasts three years according to Frédéric Beigbeder. Or at least the kind of love that is handed to you on a plate. So does the GoreTex of my waterproof jacket. The one from three years ago no longer protects me as it used to. I’ve been waiting for this moment for almost three years. It’s a love affair, you know. And now, as I consider it may come to an end, I guess Beigbeder was right.
For three years, I have been dreaming of it, playing in my head all future scenarios. Much like when you are infatuated with someone, it starts with an unanticipated occasion that makes you wish, only to let you down the slope of the abundant transformation that is to come. A metamorphosis.
How long does it last, that sudden change, after which nothing is ever the same? Is it just a moment? Three years, maybe? Or is it a continuum? Not so much a change, but а natural evolution.
I am in my hotel room in Kathmandu. The ink soaks into the paper. This moment is now tattooed on the skin of my diary and in my memory. This is the first day of my first real expedition. You know, like those I’ve only read about! Only now, I am no longer reading about the epic human ventures in the great Himalayas. There-there, you see the ink that soaks on those pages? I am now writing my own epic. The euphoria that flows in my veins takes me back almost three years ago.
Chamonix, July 2014
It’s my first time in the Alps and I already know there will be a next one. After acclimatising on Gran Paradiso, we are heading up the Mont Blanc massive to the roof of Europe. It is on my way to Tet Rousse Hut, that I hear the name Ama Dablam for the first time. Two Italian guides are talking passionately about it. If you don’t speak Italian, all you hear is “lalalaaa… Ama Dablam… lalalaaa… Ama Dablam”. But even if you do, it sounds like an enchanting melody that sticks with you.
It gets me under a spell.
The circumference of my pupils widens.
I ask the Italians what is Ama Dablam. They both look at me bewildered. How could I not know? Later that day, as I check-in at Tet Rousse Hut, the guy at the desk tells me “You are in the Ama Dablam dormitory downstairs. There is a photo with a name on each door. Can’t miss it!”
What? Seriously? I am at 3167 meters above sea level. As I rush down the stairs, eager to see the photo on the door, my pulse drums in my ears. It feels like the dramatic accompaniment before an important announcement. Who would have known that this pulsation in my ears, though because of the altitude, is in fact preceding an important encounter?
Down the stairs, through one door… almost there… ah, and there it is — hanging on the door, the image of one the most beautiful Himalayan peaks I have ever seen.
At that moment, I feel the pull of the invisible red thread for the first time.
Same summer, different days
Mont Blanc was a success, though in poor conditions. It was one of those ‘first time-lucky ones’, when the trade tricks you into the illusion you are unbeatable. It is still those days when you feel cool having crampons and an ice-axe in your backpack. Dammit, of course you are cool! The important thing here is that now I know what stands behind the name Ama Dablam. And boy, does it not stand majestically?
A few weeks later, I am back home. The summer vibes fit perfectly with my new outdoor activities. A friend of mine suggests we go see a movie about free riders that are exploring virgin slopes in the Himalayas. Though I am not into free-riding, “the Himalayas, you say?”
Free-riders, great views, virgin slopes, flying tents…and Voilà!, there it is again—Ama Dablam with its perfect shape on the big screen. This is nature bragging, I think. A few days later, I witness a conversation between climbers about the most beautiful peaks in the world.
– So what is your top three? And I mean aesthetics, not difficulty.
– Ah, that is easy – Matterhorn, Alpamayo and Ama Dablam.
No one argues. Even though those three peaks have turned into some of the most emblematic and crowded places, a cliché if you wish, the reasons behind that are solid. It is nature bragging and by then, the aesthetics of Ama Dablam’s 6812-meter pyramid features are officially haunting me. So is it that the mountain is calling, and I have to go?
Coincidence or Destiny?
Call me superstitious, I’d rather say in search of magic, but it seems to me that this mountain is trying to attract my attention. Well, it’s a success! It was love at first sight, anyways. That moment, when I saw the picture on the door of my dormitory in Tet Rousse Hut, I said to myself “I wish one day, I come to you.”
With the following sequence of events, a dash of magic dust sprinkles upon this acquaintance. It reminds me a bit of when you buy a new car and all of a sudden you see it everywhere. Some call it selective perception, but my seeing and hearing of Ama Dablam everywhere, I call destiny.
The pull of the red thread tightens.
The beginning of a new era
In the summer of 2014, I make a pact with myself and commit to gaining the skills I need to climb my new obsession. Back then, I am a quarter of a century old (25), passionate, stubborn, reckless, prone to self-destruction (a trait that seems to fit perfectly with the suffering that is about to follow) and highly impatient (something I am bound to resolve). There is something symbolic in changing the trajectory of your life at the age of 25 — a symmetrical fracture of the whole 100. And so, that sudden change, after which nothing is ever the same, begins.
Want the Change
Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be grey and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.
Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.
– Rainer Marie Rilke, from Sonnet to Orpheus II, 12
To be continued…