“Last week, the second shoe of my brother Günther was found at the foot of the Diamir glacier by local people. After fifty-two years. The Nanga Parbat tragedy remains as well as Günther forever.” With these words, mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner commented today on social media on the image of an old mountaineering boot on a large boulder. He had been sent the photo, the 77-year-old South Tyrolean told the German Press Agency (dpa). He will personally pick up the shoe in Pakistan, but there is no hurry, Messner said.
Other shoe in the mountain museum
Possibly the now found left shoe will then find a place next to the right one – in Reinhold Messner’s mountain museum at Sigmundskron Castle near the South Tyrolean city of Bolzano. This first shoe, according to Messner also found at the outlet of the Diamir Glacier, he had presented to the public in 2005. A Pakistani mountain guide had also found his brother’s jacket and some bones near the base camp on the Diamir side of the mountain, Messner said at the time. A genetic examination of one bone had shown that it was Günther’s mortal remains.
Dispute for years
In summer 1970, the Messner brothers had succeeded in the first ascent of the 4,500-meter-high Rupal Face, the southwest face of Nanga Parbat, without bottled oxygen – a milestone of mountaineering in the Himalayas and Karakoram. According to Reinhold Messner, his younger brother Günther had shown symptoms of high altitude sickness at the summit. Therefore, they had descended via the Diamir Face, which was unknown to them but technically somewhat easier. There, Günther was then buried by an ice avalanche, according to Reinhold. He himself was finally found by a Pakistani shepherd at the foot of the Diamir Glacier – more dead than alive.
Afterwards, there had been a years-long dispute with other members of the Nanga Parbat expedition, which was carried out via the media, in books and in the courts too. Messner’s critics accused Reinhold of having left back his sick brother, possibly already in the summit region. Messner, for his part, accused the other expedition members of lying and of failing to provide help.
The discovery of the second shoe, Reinhold Messner told the portal salto.bz, is “the final proof that unfortunately the story happened as it really happened.”