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A seraphic, innocent smile, like an excited child waiting to tell her story to her friends and family.
That’s how I saw her, as I sat in the Sports hall, waiting for her to begin her talk. I was thrilled to hear of her adventures in the mountains of the world, especially the one she did with Simone Moro on the Nanga Parbat, a beautiful, huge mountain in the Himalayan range, in Pakistan. It acquired the name of “the killer mountain”…just figure!
I was beyond excited at the chance of seeing her, and found it to be a weird coincidence that a friend of mine had given me her book as a gift a few months earlier, even before I was aware of her existence.
I was nervous for her having to talk in front of so many people. I would have been so scared. But then I thought: she climbed 8000m, peed in a tent surrounded by 3 men at 7000m, and shovelled 6 metres of snow at 4000m. Talking in front of a few human beings must be a joke to her.
She is really one of a kind and I am not only referring to her professional achievements, which she has conquered through hard work, discipline, resilience, and most of all, belief in herself; but also the fact that she has maintained her innocence and humbleness, despite her success and popularity.
Tamara stopped at 70m from the Nanga Parbat peak because she realised that if she were to go any further she would be putting the lives of her companions in danger, as she would have needed their help to climb down. This is no small matter. Reaching the top would have put her in a privileged place, as the first woman in the world to have reached the 8000m peak in winter, giving her fame and popularity which few people would have given up for the sake of comradeship and safety of others. I know she is not keen on having this particular fact highlighted by the media, but even Simone Moro spoke of it during an interview with the National Geographic, giving her credit for it. This is why she is who she is, and my admiration and respect for her are so great that I have decided to talk about her in my blog.
And as she goes through videos and words, talking about the expedition with such candour and sincerity, you cannot help but feel you are up there with her, hanging onto a wall, or breathing heavily due to the altitude. When she tells you about her pain, her discomfort, and the cold wind, you feel it too, and you feel the same pain. You share her emotion as she gazes at sunsets, amazing landscapes, or at the happiness she feels for being part of such an amazing team. You are just right there with her.
And then you come to understand her, and her love for the mountains. An absolutely unconditional love with no shadows, borders or judgements.
I felt like I wanted to start training for my mountain right there and then, and go out and conquer it. What was I waiting for?
Her book also talks about her in more depth, how she discovered her love for the mountains, how her family has always supported her; her strong bond with Simone Moro and his wife Barbara, the physical education teacher who discovered her strength and positive attitude, and introduced her to Simone, an already recognised mountaineer. I was particularly impressed by this episode, which made me think about how we are in need of more teachers like Barbara; people who not only teach a specific subject but also understand their role as mentors and responsibility in helping kids to discover and work towards their potential and talents.
In the book, as in the conference, Tamara talks to us as if talking to friends, passionately and with an open heart, filter-free. You immediately feel like you are friends, and even allies. You feel empathy when she speaks about difficult moments, and rejoice when she is celebrating her victories. You cannot help but love her when she explains her reasons behind stopping 70m from the peak, and find the lucidity to understand that it was time to go back.
Tamara is a model to follow, a rare creature who needs to be heard by the new generation for them to find inspiration, and not because everybody should climb mountains. The message she wants to convey is so much more important. She has been through a lot of physical suffering, pain, and injury, due to the strain her body is exposed to, and she has had to give up on other important life matters, such as personal relationships. But she doesn’t let this get in her way, she has a dream and she goes for it, well aware of the other things she has to sacrify in order to pursue her goal. It’s hard, but the first thing you need to look after and protect are your own dreams, – she says – whatever makes you feel alive and gives you a reason for living on this earth, you have to go for it without any hesitation or guilty feelings. Because if you are happy, the people around you will be happy as well, your light will enlighten your world and whoever is a part of it.
This is the message I am taking with me.
Tamara found her happiness in the mountains.
Where do you find yours?
Here below an amazing video on the magnificent killer mountain and if you click HERE you will see an amazing video reportage on Tamara
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