25 January 2018, on the summit of Nanga Parbat, about 6.30 p.m. After the French Elisabeth Revol, the Pole Tomek Mackiewicz also reaches the summit. Revol is the first woman to succeed in a winter ascent of the 8,125-meter-high summit in Pakistan, Mackiewicz the first Pole. “‘Eli what’s happening with my eyes? Eli, I can’t see your head torch any more; you’re a blur!’,” Revol recalls. “This second lasts an eternity. Everything changes. I retch and shake; fear overwhelms me. My legs turn to jelly and I collapse.” Success turns into drama. In the end only the French climber is saved, Mackiewicz dies in an ice cave at 7,238 meters.
Elisabeth Revol describes in her book “To Live”, which has now been published in English, in a very haunting way the ordeal during the descent. How she succeeds in leading the snow-blind and increasingly fading Tomek more than 700 meters down. How she searches in vain for their last camp and finally seeks refuge with her companion in a crevasse. How Mackiewicz stops speaking. How she struggles with herself and in the end descends alone, towards the rescuers. How she survives another bivouac night in an ice cave, hallucinating, suffering frostbite. How she always hopes that not only she but also Tomek will be rescued. How she despairs when she realizes that hope is in vain.
Revol draws the reader into her struggle for survival. Into her inner conflict, from which there is no escape. “Guilt overwhelms me, drowns me,” Elisabeth writes. She asks herself why she returned to this mountain for the fourth time in winter, when she didn’t really want to. ” I find myself fleeing ever further from a society that would like to decide for me,” Revol admits. “I know that the answers are inside me. I go up thereto live authentically.”
“To Live” is an authentic book, but also a merciless one. Mercilessly sad. Mercilessly honest. Mercilessly gripping. I can only recommend you: Have an additional woollen blanket ready while you read.