National Geographic : 2006 Nov
the avalanche cone ... maybe he would appear." In the warm summer of 2005, out of the fog of libel suits and acrimony, this dream materialized. As if relenting of all the damage it had wrought, Nanga Parbat gave up its dead. On July 17, at 4,300 meters in the Diamir Valley, three Paki stani climbers came upon the remains of Glin ther Messner, identified by a detail on his old, pre-1980 leather climbing boot. The identification was later confirmed by elaborate tests of both mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA of that rare Messner genome, conducted by the Institute of Legal Medicine, Innsbruck Medical University. Back on Nanga Parbat, Reinhold, knowing that a member of the 1970 expedition had been on the Diamir Face making a docudrama about the mountain's tragic history, feared that his broth er's body could be exploited or even relocated. After consultation with his family, Reinhold cre mated Ginther's remains on the mountain. Speaking to Uschi, I asked if the discovery of Glinther's body on the Diamir Face had at last lifted a burden from Reinhold. She stared at me: "No. He always knew Gunther was there." S give all of myself, all of my energy, my time, my money, my enthusiasm," Reinhold said. He was not speaking about 8,000-meter expeditions but about his latest museum. Family and friends had remarked on the pressure he had put himself under, and the new intensity and fre quency of his rages. As opening day drew closer, the undertaking seemed to strike him as increas ingly epic, and he was reaching for metaphors to compare it to extreme climbing. It involved all the elements he had identified as essential to the "strong experiences" that test one's limits- difficulties, strenuous effort, exposure. But not the risk of death, as I reminded him. "I can do like Hemingway," he replied, glumly. When complete, the chain of five Messner Mountain Museums will form a neat circuit in t Photo Gallery Find more images of Reinhold Messner and browse a listing of related links and resources at ngm.com/0611. 66 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * NOVEMBER 2006 the South Tirol; eventually, they will run them selves. "This is a dream of mine, that they should go without me-like how it is in the family," he mused. When total self-sufficiency in all aspects of his life has been attained, he will be free to follow another long-discussed, never actualized dream, and retreat to a cave. "I would prefer somewhere in the Dolomites," he said. "There are so many good places ... I would stay maybe a month there and write, or think, or enjoy the morning light, climb a mountain. That is a very strong daydream, that I am a free person."