Home BLOGSTORY Gunther Reclaims Reinhold with His Second Boot

Gunther Reclaims Reinhold with His Second Boot

by thesummiters.com
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Reinhold Messner has been reunited with his brother Gunther’s second boot, which tragically went missing when Gunther died during a climb on Nanga Parbat in 1970. While for many, it’s just a reminder of the perils of scaling the notorious ‘Killer Mountain,’ for Reinhold, it’s a deeply personal message from Gunther, affirming his innocence in the events surrounding his death.

After an arduous search, the boot was discovered trapped in the icy grasp of the glacier on the Diamir side of the mountain in June 2022—52 years after Gunther’s fateful expedition. Last week, Liver Khan, a Pakistani climber, undertook the journey to South Tyrol to deliver the boot into Reinhold’s hands, as reported by Barrabes.

This singular boot carries immense significance as it serves to corroborate Reinhold Messner’s narrative of the tragic events that unfolded on Nanga Parbat. Its retrieval not only provides closure to the Messner family but also sheds light on the circumstances surrounding Gunther’s untimely demise.”

The Tragic Events of 1970

In 1970 The Messner’s brother embarked on a daring expedition led by Karl Herrligkoffer. Their mission: to conquer the uncharted Rupal side of Nanga Parbat. But what began as a bold adventure ended in heartbreak.

Only the older brother made it back alive. He staggered down the mountain days later, his body ravaged by frostbite and exhaustion. His younger brother was missing, presumed lost to the unforgiving terrain.

Reinhold, the surviving brother, recounted the harrowing tale. After summiting at 5 pm, Gunther, drained of energy, couldn’t manage the treacherous descent down the Rupal face without a rope. They opted for the safer route down the Diamir side, with Reinhold leading the way. Yet, amidst the descent, Gunther vanished from sight.

Frantically searching, Reinhold discovered only the chilling aftermath of an avalanche, leaving him haunted by questions of his brother’s fate.”

Years of Accusations

Despite Reinhold Messner’s earnest explanations, doubt lingered among some of the expedition members. Hans Saler and Max von Kienlin cast suspicion on Reinhold, painting him as an overly ambitious climber who perhaps didn’t want his younger, less experienced brother, Gunther, to slow him down.

Gunther Messner. Photo: Reinhold Messner/Instagram
Gunther Messner. Photo: Reinhold Messner/Instagram

According to Herrligkoffer’s directives, Gunther wasn’t slated to accompany Reinhold on the final ascent. However, Gunther defied these orders and trailed after Reinhold from the high camp. This audacious move fueled accusations from Saler and Kienlin, who openly suggested that Reinhold had callously abandoned his brother to a perilous fate even before they reached the summit.

This cloud of controversy shadowed Messner’s reputation for a staggering 34 years. Then, in a twist of fate in 2004, a climber, scouring the Diamir Glacier for minerals, stumbled upon a haunting discovery: a solitary boot and scattered bones. Learning of this find, Messner promptly journeyed to Nanga Parbat’s Base Camp, where he conducted a solemn ceremony, consigning the remains to flames. Yet, he preserved some fragments for genetic analysis, which ultimately confirmed their tragic origin as Gunther’s. This solemn act laid to rest the swirling doubts, and the recovered boot found a place of honor in one of Messner’s museums.

While the emergence of the second boot didn’t offer concrete evidence, for Reinhold Messner, it served as a poignant affirmation, dispelling the dark shadows of conspiracy surrounding Gunther and the Nanga Parbat tragedy. In a heartfelt acknowledgment, Messner expressed, “Gunther, thank you, and you are always in my thoughts.”

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