There are thousands of, millions of betrayal that has been happened over the years in and around the world. Probably most of us have come a cross a betrayal at least one time in our lives. But when that betrayal comes to a position where you have to pay by your life or you may not be able to continue your livelihood as you used to be? Well! that’s forgiven.
This incident recently came across me since I am adventure geek, I regularly go through the legendary incidents, biographies, situation etc, regarding adventure activities. So this relates to a legendary summit but turns out one of the disgusted betrayals in the history.
As you all know that Everest is the highest peak (highest mountain) in the world. But many don’t know the fact even though Everest being the highest peak in the world, its not the hardest mountain to summit. Its the 2nd hardest mountain to summit.
The hardest mountain to summit is K-2, Chinese Qogir Feng, also called Mount Godwin Austen, called locally Dapsang or Chogori, the world’s second highest peak, located on the China–Pakistan border between Baltistan in the Gilgit- Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. Its the 2nd highest peak in the world.
There have been over 4,000 successful summit on Mount Everest in history while that number drops down to 367 people for who have completed the K2 ascent.
86 people have died attempting the climb according to the list maintained on the List of deaths on eight-thousanders. So these numbers clearly picturize you a pretty good idea about how dangerous it is to climb K2.
The first attempt to reach the summit was made by an Anglo-Swiss expedition in 1902 that ascended to 18,600 feet (5,670 metres) on the peak’s northeastern crest. Other unsuccessful attempts included an Italian expedition in 1909, led by Luigi Amedeo, duke d’Abruzzi, via the southeastern ridge (later called the Abruzzi Ridge) that reached approximately 20,000 feet (6,100 metres). In 1938 an American expedition led by Charles Houston via the Abruzzi Ridge reached about 26,000 feet (7,925 metres); in 1939 another American-led expedition following the same route reached about 27,500 feet (8,380 metres); and in 1953 another expedition led by Houston reached 25,900 feet (7,900 metres) on the Abruzzi Ridge.
So over the years many world class Trekkers have tried to conquer the K2 but all of those failed miserably.
But in 1954 a team of 5 bravest men were ready to do it . The Italian team were so determined to do it at any cost. The team included as of followings
1. Geologist Ardito Desio as the leader
2. Achille Compagnoni
3. Lino Lacedelli.
4. Walter Bonatti a talented upcoming treker
5. Amir Mehdi a Pakistani porter
The two men who had to face this miserable situation was Walter Bonatti and Amir Mehdi
“Amir Mehdi wanted to be the first Pakistani to scale the country’s highest peak, K2, and as one of the strongest climbers in the first team to conquer the summit, 60 years ago, he nearly did. Instead he was betrayed by his Italian companions, left to spend a night on the ice without shelter, and was lucky to survive.”
-BBC 7th August 2014-
Amir Mehdi – also known as Hunza Mehdi.The Hunza porters, equivalent of the Sherpas in Nepal, are still in great demand for expeditions to Pakistan’s highest peaks, such as K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II – five of the world’s 14 mountains more than 8,000m high.
But Amir Mehdi, a member of the Italian expedition that triumphed on K2 in 1954, has been completely erased from the history.
He went on to make a huge contribution by taking a life threatening risk to the success of the expedition, which turned two climbers Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli into Italian national heroes.
However Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli got their supplies,led the summit from front and scheduled to meet Mehdi at the point of 8000m height and from there onwards all the four trekers supposed to go togther. Mehdi had been convinced to help Italian climber, Walter Bonatti, to carry oxygen cylinders up to a height of about 8,000m, where they were to meet Compagnoni and Lacedelli.
Generally the most crucial altitude (height) we gonna need oxygen is above 8000m. But it depends on the situation and the capacity of the person. There are some trekers who uses oxygen at the point of 7000m and also there some who could manage somewhere around 8100m without oxygen.
“Other high altitude porters refused. My father agreed to the mission because he was offered a chance to get to the top,” -Mehdi’s son, Sultan Ali to BBC-
But when they got to the discussed spot, late in the evening, the tent was nowhere to be seen. Not even a trail of it. Gradually , as they searched for their Compagnoni and Lacedelli, and continued to climb up looking for them worrying something might have happened, one of Bonatti’s shouts was answered.
The camp had been moved to a place beyond their reach. A voice shouted to them to leave the oxygen and go back down, but the darkness made this impossible.
I’ll tell you few more details about K2.
Mountaineers face risk like avalanches, storms, conflicts, and a curse when they attempt to summit the peak. And the K2 is riched with all of these. You can’t at all predict the snow storms, snow landslides, freaking coldness, low rate of oxygen, and the more importantly the life threatening elevation of the mountain, you feel like you are going sky high with no sight of the top of the mountain.
“K2 is a savage mountain that tries to kill you”
-American climber George Bell-
So now you can imagine the situation they had to face. Mehdi and Bonatti were forced to spend the night there were no other option left to but huddled together on an ice ledge enduring temperatures of -50C (-58F). Both were ready to die, but somehow they survived what was, at the time, the highest ever open bivouac, at an altitude of some 8,100m (26,570ft).
It would later after some years revealed that Compagnoni had deliberately moved the camp because he wanted to prevent Bonatti and Mehdi from joining the summit bid even though Mehdi and Bonatti accused them from the beginning.
Compagnoni apparently feared that Bonatti, who was younger and fitter, would steal the thunder.
The next morning, left the oxygen cylinders there, Mehdi and Bonatti descended. Compagnoni and Lacedelli then later came down and picked up the oxygen and went on to claim the reward. Unlike his Italian colleagues, Mehdi hadn’t been given proper high-altitude snow boots. He was wearing regular army boots – according to some reports, they were two sizes too small for him.
However he suffered severe frostbite, and by the time he reached base camp he couldn’t feel his legs and unable to walk. He was admitted to the hospital and doctors left with no option but to amputate(intersect) all his toes to prevent gangrene from spreading. He had spend eight months in the hospital and finally he came back to his village and put away his ice axe and told his family he never wanted to see it again. While his Italian colleagues went on forward to build their careers and became world famous, brought reputation to the motherland and became rich.
-Amir Mehdi and his situation-
Things didn’t stop from there.This became a diplomatic problem between Italy & Pakistan. The Italians were accused of tricking Mehdi and leaving him in a life threatening situation & mutilated. But it was the peak time of Campagnoni’s legacy. And to protect his legacy they had to find someone to take the heat for him. So it was falled onto Bonatti where he was accused selfish and reckless risk-taking and scheming to claim the summit himself before the others. Sultan Ali, tells that his father broadly supported Bonatti’s version of events without even second thoughts of how the two of them were tricked at K2.
“My father was a simple man. He knew how to climb mountains, but he didn’t know how to read or write. It’s possible that his testimony was used to discredit Bonatti,”
-Sultan Ali to BBC-
For some years, he was unable to move around or find work, and struggled to feed his wife and children. Gradually, he learned to walk on his stumps.
Later in the years Italian government sent him a certificate in the post, informing him that the president had awarded him the rank of “cavaliere” .
But at the cost of what?
Sometimes foreign mountaineers, travelers who had heard about his open bivouac at 8,100m would come to meet him to hear the stories.
Later in the year 1994, in the 40th celebrations of the first ascent ,he met up with Compagnoni and Lacedelli in Islamabad. Sultan, the son recalls it as a highly emotional reunion.
“They didn’t understand each other’s language. But the three of them cried like babies when they hugged each other.”
All along, Mehdi didn’t ask for an apology. And none was offered
The official Italian narrative, purposely hide the truth about the expedition, remained unchanged for decades – although Bonatti did his best to challenge it. After 60years in 2004 Lacedelli prompted an investigation, which led in 2007, to formal recognition by the Italian Alpine Club of the essential role Mehdi and Bonatti played in K2’s conquest.
But that was too late for Mehdi. He died in December 1999 at the age of 86.
The Morale of this story is we may come a cross many challenges in our lives, we may have many life goals, dreams to conquer the world, but none of them must be achieved at the cost of others’ innocent lives. I mean what do you possibly expect out of some terrible thing like that. There might have thousands of Mehdis and Bonattis who had gone through the same kind of situation in their lives through out the history. And some may have survived. Those are the stories we can hear right now. Some have been burried even the memory of their existence have been completely eradicated from the history.
And also Mehdi & Bonatti teach us another great lesson. They remind us the famous story of the Eagle.You will have a moment in your life whether you have to decide you gonna live or die. And they choose to live where all the facts are odd against them. And thats is my friend “LIFE”
However there could be a another point of view to this story which no one knows yet. We never know what comes in the future.
Recourse : BBC News, List of death of eight thousanders.