Simone Moro and Manaslu 

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When it’s not just about resilience, success and failure.

Taking some time before putting down on paper my thoughts and reflections on this matter was necessary and, for those who know me a little, inevitable.

A week has already passed since the conclusion of Simone’s Manaslu expedition, and for me it has been days of silence, reflection and clarity in thoughts and feelings.

As often happens things moved suddenly and very fast and as the news came in I clearly felt that there was no room for emotions inside me, I could not feel disappointment or anger for the “failure” of Simone’s fifth (fifth!!!) attempt and I could not feel happiness for the “success” of Alex Txicon and the rest of the team.

In the excited turn of events there was only room for controlled (after 24 years they are controlled by necessity) worries:

for Simone and Alex’s decision to attempt the summit so early, then for Simone’s health condition and consequently for Alex and the rest of the team being left there alone (my personal perspective). Then “technical” concerns take over, for such a significant elevation gain of the summit attempt, and for fatigue as a companion to the descent, a fatigue that, given the effort, can neither be ignored nor underestimated.

Here I want to be honest, the first emotion that really hits me is the rolling of balls. I imagine the summit photo without Simone and I feel it clearly. Thinking back on it now I also think it is an inevitable transition given my history so intertwined and participatory with Simone’s expeditions and achievements.

Then the worry comes back however overbearingly, I am thousands of kilometers away and I have not yet spoken to anyone, for me it has always been so (even with the Nanga expedition) summit or no summit the events and news become real and take shape only after I hear Simone’s voice on the phone.

When we finally manage to talk he is in Kathmandu waiting for all the necessary check-ups at the hospital.

His voice is firm, serene, and joyful. Hearing him like this soothes me and fills me with pride:

he is still Simone, able to rise above the worst at the speed of light and able to sincerely rejoice in others’ successes, even when they are part of his own failure.

I try to accede to his sentiment: Alex Txicon, Chhepal Sherpa, Tenjen Lama Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Mingtemba Sherpa, Pemba Tasi Sherpa, and Gyalu Sherpa deserve to be greeted with joy, and Simone deserves all my respect and esteem, regardless of the whirlwind of emotions that runs through me here on the other end of the satellite phone.

And it is here that I realize it is time for me to take a break, I force myself to be silent, to listen to my emotions, to reflect. I want to give the important things a chance to emerge from the chaotic tangle that I now perceive within me, I put myself on hold and wait, as I like to say, for the dumplings to surface.

As always, the moment of clarity comes and some valuable reflections take shape inside me:

1. in the end, resilience is not everything;

2. it is not just about success (for Alex & team) or failure (for Simone);

3. it is about extreme lucidity not only in giving up to continue the climb and inviting the rest of the team to go on without him (despite the fact that it was rightfully his climb, and I say this without fail, it is my voice and opinion);

4. looking at it from the wide angle, it is about “me and the others” in the most difficult situation where a moment of absolute joy for “the others” corresponds to a moment of disappointment for “me.”

5. not to experience it as disappointment and turn it into shared joy (without a hug at the summit), it is really something for the few.

Then Simone also reassures me and brings further clarity inside me:

“Alex & team were willing to wait for me a couple of days at camp 2, it was me who told them they could not miss the chance of the summit in the window of good weather.”

And here, finally, joy also finds its way into me. And with it a final crucial precious realization:

6. in order for teamwork to be substantial, functional and effective the ability to give trust and respect, and the willingness to be supportive are crucial. And even more important is that all of this is shared by and toward all members of a team. A team effort can never be a one-way street!

Bravo Alex & team! Chapeau Simone!