First I must say that 2009 has been a great year for me. It was full of personal bests and new experiences. I had a great ride! However, for many of my fellow mountain climbers 2009 was their last year.
I had the wonderful opportunity to go climbing in Pakistan. It was my first real expedition. Hundreds of people went. We all knew the risks but made the journey anyway. None of us knew that this season would result in so many deaths of experienced climbers. First there was Michele Fait on K2 two days after we arrived at base camp. A very experienced climber and skier that fell at the absolute worst place a skier could fall. Then there was Go Mi-Sun and Wolfgang Kölblinger on Nanga Parbat. So much experience but one wrong step and it was over. Then there was Christina Castagna on Broad Peak another bad step and another life extinguished. Luis Barbero disappeared on GII. Finally there was Oscar Perez with a broken leg on Latok II. The rescuers tried to reach him but it was in vain.
Elsewhere in the world, John Bachar was free soloing well below his limit and fell. Then Ishun Chan was climbing and fell, having one of those freak accidents you don't even consider. Guy Lacelle was hit by an avalanche. Another guide Federico Campanini died descending Aconcagua. In the Himalaya Tomaz Humar died and he was as good as they come. Roby Piantoni also had several 8000 summits under his belt before he fell. Levente Szabo fell on Manaslu. Sergei Samoilov died on an Everest/Lhotse traverse. Piotr Morawski fell into a crevasse on Dhaulagiri. These people were all better than me.
2010, these incidents scared me. These people were far better than I am. They had years of experience I don't have. Every time I think about it I honestly think, "how in the world did I get away with my life when they didn't?" It terrifies me to no end. Stronger, more experienced people did not have what it takes to get up and down their routes safely.
So I am begging you 2010, please don't take away my friends or my friends friends. Let us have after parties that are not marred by death. You can keep your summits, but please don't keep my friends. Please give us the wisdom and patience to know our limits. You can bang us up, make us bleed, break our bones, and put us in traction, but leave that spark of life here. We have family and friends. Our death is unfair to them.
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