Kathmandu. Reinhold Messner, a world-renowned mountaineer, explorer, and travel writer born in Italy in 1944, was recently on a visit to Nepal.
He has set a world record by climbing all the 14 peaks above 8,000 meters in the world. Seventy-seven-year-old Messner still has a keen interest in mountaineering in Nepal. He loves Nepal very much and has visited here 50 times so far.
He has been climbing Mt. Everest since 1970. He was the first to make a solo climb of Mt Everest in 1978. He climbed Nanga Parbat (8,125 m) in 1970 and 1978, Manaslu (8,163 m) in 1972, Gasherbram I (8,080 m) in 1975 and 1984, and Mount Everest (8,848 m) in 1978 and 1980, K2 in 1979, (8,611 m) and in 1981 successfully climbed Shishpangma (8,027 m). Similarly, Kanchenjunga (8,586 m) in 1982 and 1984, Gasherbrum II (8,034 m) and Broad Peak (8,051 m) in 1984, Cho Oyu (8,188 m) in 1983, Annapurna (8, 1985). 091 m), Dhaulagiri (8,167 m) and Makalu (8,485 m) and Lhotse (8,516 m) in 1986.
The first citizen to cross Antarctica and Greenland, he also crossed the Gobi Desert alone. He has published more than 80 books about his experiences during his ascent and exploration. He came to Nepal with his wife Diane Chumacher to celebrate the New Year of 2022.
He stayed in Namche for a few days and returned to Kathmandu. A brief conversation with Krishna Adhikari, Chief Correspondent of the Rastriya Samachar Sammittee (RSS), before returning home.
RSS: What motivates you to visit Nepal?
Messner: Ever since I came to Nepal with the goal of climbing Nepal’s mountains, I have been fascinated by the natural beauty of Nepal and its behavior. After climbing Mt. Everest for the first time in 1978, my desire to climb other mountains of Nepal also increased. After climbing the mountains here, I came to understand the Nepali people. I am grateful to Nepal for promoting tourism. I would like to give the credit of my climbing success to Nepal. I am very much influenced by Nepali art and culture. I am very impressed with the cultural diversity and natural beauty here. Nepal is a piece of paradise. Its inhabitants, mountains, and natural beauty cannot be described in words. I can’t forget the simple demeanor and smiling faces of Nepalis. The same fascination has inspired me to visit Nepal every year. I do want to come to Nepal at least once a year.
RSS: What do you see as the difference between climbing Nepal’s mountains then and now?
Mesner: I noticed a lot of changes now. Fifty years ago, when I climbed various mountain ranges in Nepal, the climbers had no information about the mountain. It was very challenging to climb without knowing what the location of the mountain is, at what time, from which route, how to carry, what materials to carry. The Sherpas we used to accompany the climbers did not have the experience of climbing but now we have enough information about the climb, with the full support of the Sherpas.
RSS: Is the impact of climate change already visible in the mountainous region of Nepal?
Mesner: Although Nepal’s role in greenhouse gas emissions is minimal, it has been severely affected by the effects of climate change. Climate change seems to have a direct impact on the Himalayan region of Nepal. The Himalayas, including Amadablam and Manaslu, receive less snow than before. Even the snow-capped peaks of yesterday are now black mountains. Due to the gradual increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the Himalayan region, the environment of the Himalayan region has changed a lot due to the eruption of glaciers, melting of glaciers, and snowfall in the mountains. Climate change has made monsoon trends and air systems riskier for mountaineering. Disasters such as avalanches and blizzards have been increasing in the Himalayan region for some years now.
RSS: What should be considered to reduce such incidents?
Mesner: These challenges are compounded by the fact that the entire climate system is out of balance due to industrialization, widespread use of vehicles, fossil fuels, and consumerism. Nepal needs to raise its voice in international forums on the impact of climate change in the Himalayas, as well as do some internal work. Systematic urbanization, use of clean energy, and lifestyle changes are needed.
RSS: How much potential do you see for mountain tourism in Nepal?
Mesner: As there is a lot of potential for mountain tourism in Nepal, it seems that programs with strategic plans should be decided for its development. As Nepal is full of ‘Nature’, ‘Culture’ and ‘Adventure’, if Nepal can focus on development in a planned and sustainable manner, Nepal can benefit a lot from tourism. Covering more than 80 percent of the country with mountains and high mountains, Nepal is known as a unique destination for mountain tourism as it is home to most of the 14 highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest and the main part of the world’s longest mountain range. Sustainable development of mountain tourism is necessary for the prosperity of the country.
RSS: You have made a great contribution to promoting Nepal’s tourism internationally. Have you thought about expanding it further in the coming days?
Messner: My articles have been published in more than 80 books and journals on Nepal’s mountaineering experience and its mountain tourism. Many of my documentaries have helped to introduce Nepal to the international community. As Nepal’s Goodwill Ambassador, I have been lecturing on Nepal’s tourism and mountains in my home country Italy and other European countries, and in many countries of the world. I have built museums in different cities of Italy that reflect Nepali art and culture. Now I am building an art museum in Namche, Solukhumbu. The world’s highest museum is set to open next year As I have a deep connection with Nepal’s tourism, I want to promote Nepali art, culture, and tourism in the international arena for the rest of my life.
RSS: Are there any basic suggestions to the Government of Nepal, tourism entrepreneurs, and citizens for the promotion of Nepali tourism?
Mesner: Tourists come to Nepal to experience the special rather than the average. Tourists should be able to manage the historical heritage, cultural-tradition, natural beauty, hospitality, adventure activities, and sports and new places for sightseeing in the way they like. Most of the climbers who come to climb Nepal’s mountain peaks go to the base camp of the mountain as soon as they land in Kathmandu and from there return directly to their homeland via Kathmandu. Recently, due to the increasing use of mobile phones in Nepal, like the citizens of developed countries of the world, I am concerned to see that the activities like talking openly and greeting foreign guests are gradually decreasing. In the meantime, much work has been done in the field of tourism infrastructure, but there is still a long way to go in safe and orderly flight, hiking, hotel facilities, preservation of art and culture, and conservation of biodiversity.
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