“NIVES’ FORMULA” by Erri De Luca


Alpinism is an individualist, it makes single names stand out. The name of the climbing partner simply fades away. Cutting-edge limbers often change partners. They have gipsy-like bonds, the journey counts for more than the travel companion. Romano and Nives no, they have climbed their backyard mountains together, the Julian Alps, then the Andes, then the Asian eight thousand meter peaks. They have created a new formation, never before experimented so intensively, both in terms of time and results. Their achievements are also an alliance which does not melt away back down in the valley, at the end of the trip. They remain elbow to elbow, at home just like on the summit. You see them up there, in the films they bring back with them, calm and busying away like at home.

They are extremists, they have given themselves ruthless rules. From Base Camp onwards they carry everything on their backs, not a single ounce rests on someone else’s shoulders. The mountain is to be climbed using their strength only, not that for hire from the high altitude porters.

The second rule is the most severe: everything has to be carried back down, including all rubbish. The mountain is cleared leaving it clean…….

And finally no supplementary oxygen, not even in an emergency: in their expeditions it’s missing altogether. They climb with the oxygen that is there, two thirds less than at sea level, a puff of atoms dispersed in the desert of nitrogen….

Those are their rules, not a religion. On the contrary, the exact opposite. This isn’t a devotion to be offered to a superior god but a discipline, good manners so as they fit at that table.. The means, the way of doing it, count for more than any results whatsoever, regardless of what the summit might be. The ends justify the means goes the old saying, which they reject…..more to come about Nives Meroi and Romano Benet…


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