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The avalanche was a flash of snow.
A beautiful but extremely dangerous explosion formed by the detachments of rock and ice from the walls of Nanga Parbat the mountain of destiny, the ninth highest on the planet and where the German mountaineer, Reinhold Messner lost more than seven frozen toes.
Because on this day in 1970, the gods of “Naked Mountain” in Pakistan allowed him and his brother Günther to reach the top, but on the way back they punished them. They were out of food, out of water, and Reinhold’s younger brother panicked as he made his way back to base camp.
Then came the avalanche.
The cold explosion.
Reinhold had forged ahead trying to find a way down. Weak and disoriented, Günther had stayed behind. Devastated.
The avalanche carried him away, devoured him, forever marking the life of the man who was to become one of the greatest mountaineers in history.
Reinhold spent six days on the mountain searching in vain for his brother, until he was rescued. Later it was reported by other German mountaineers who accompanied him on the expedition to have abandoned Günther to his fate. His feet suffered severe frostbite and seven of his toes had to be amputated, which forever changed the way he walked.
Reinhold Messner recovered from the accident, but as is often the case in misfortune, he was scarred. He was no longer the same. His injured feet prevented him from continuing to climb rock faces like those of Nanga Parbat.
But he never stopped climbing .
Messner began looking for different challenges and finding routes that his injured footprint could endure. The mountain hero would not be defeated, even if his path had been changed.
In the 1970s, Messner searched for peaks to conquer all over the world: Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, New Guinea and East Africa. He unsuccessfully attempted to climb the mountain that had devoured his brother years before, but failed due to avalanches that seemed determined to remind him of his misfortune.
In 1975, it tamed Gasherbrum I (located on the border between Pakistan and China), with its 8,080 meters high, without oxygen. He was the first to do so. He then returned to the Nanga Parbat and climbed it on his own, charting a new route that no one else has been able to follow to this day. After this feat, he climbed K2 and finally Everest without oxygen .
By 1986, Reinhold Messner had conquered the 14 highest peaks in the world, becoming a living mountaineering legend.
Years ago, the accident in which his brother lost his life changed the course of his life: it mutilated his steps and forced him to think differently. Messner’s greatness lies in the fact that despite the pain, despite the stumps in his feet and the wounds in his memory, he never stopped moving forward.
He adapted to the tragedy and didn’t let that stop him.
It’s the big one the mountaineer’s lesson . Because there will be dangerous ups and downs. Dark days and eternal nights, plagued by lightning. Falls in which we will hurt ourselves and in which, eventually, we will lose some of our fingers.
Whole months of doubt. Of fear.
Moments when we swear to ourselves that we can’t move on. It’s time to get on our knees, close our eyes, let the darkness engulf us. To give up
But we won’t.
Because the strength of the mountaineer is in each of us. It’s the little flash that calls us, that shouts at us every morning. Because despite the fear, despite the impossible looming on the horizon, there is always time to keep walking towards conquer another mountain .