The American extreme mountaineer, up to a week ago in Nanga Parbat, talks about his debut at a very high altitude. “And now I’m going back to ‘my’ Italy for happy hours…”
The standard mountain skier who loves white sauce and happy hours. It’s Michael “Mike” Arnold, 34, a Maine American and then a world traveler until just over three years ago, he met Elena – from Aosta Valley – and fell in love with her, moving in with her in the valley. They have been Oliver’s parents for ten months. Until the beginning of January, Mike was accompanied by Hervey Parmassi and David Guetler at Nanga Parbat Base Camp, the Shell Road Camp where the group had to tackle avalanches that had inflicted their former high-altitude “residences”. Now he had just landed in Italy, according to the previous agreement between the three, Arnold would not have attempted to climb the Rupal, the largest wall on earth with 4,500 meters of vertical development.
“It was a very positive experience, thanks above all to two talented and experienced colleagues like Hervè and David. It was my first time aboard an 8000er, and I have to take one step at a time.”
“I am a skier (extreme, with very vertical lines that descended in Alaska, Peru, Argentina and Canada, as well as those in Europe such as the Apenny Mountains in Grivola, Argentiere and Aiguille Du Midi), and in the past two years I have thought a lot about a project to be able to ski in the Himalayas From the 8000 driver. At the moment, the idea is to try it next fall, with a very small team, and hopefully we can do that.”
Aside from the mountaineering aspect, what will be left of your first appearance at very high altitude?
“Meanwhile, the journey from Milan to the base camp takes about 60 hours. After that we feel very friendly and help the locals, wherever we are, at home. I knew the people there were very kind, but trying it in person was really exciting.”
When did you start going to the mountains?
“Seriously around the age of 19, but the first times are already at 16.”
Is it true that he holds the record for the youngest mountain guide in the United States?
“Suppose one of the youngest (he passed in 2014 when he was 27). I was 96th Uiagm/Ifmga Mountain Guides. They are tough exams, climbing mountains, rocks and ice. Passing them made me proud.”
What is the difference between the American peaks and the Alps?
“The first thing that surprised me is how many people you can meet at high altitudes here in Europe. You’ll probably spend a week walking around with us and, if all goes well, meet two people.”
Which Italian mountaineers have you heard the most in America?
“The first is Riccardo Cassin, and above all for the feat he was able to accomplish in Denali (at McKinley then, editor), when he was at the helm of an expedition that first climbed a massive face. And then of course, Reynolds Messner, because with that, he The Man of the 8000, an achievement never before achieved.”
What do you miss from America?
“Obvious answer… halfway through. Meaning I miss my family, but also… Mexican food! Fortunately, I’ve discovered happy hours…”.
Did your happy hour hit you in Italy?
(He laughs). “Also… It’s with us, in America, one goes to the pub and orders you drinks and you don’t need anything. You can also have dinner here, and above all, the atmosphere created is always very cheerful and fun and from your food I like so much of Dishes, especially the white ragu.
In addition to those in the mountains, is there room for other sports in your life?
“Practically no, neither as a practitioner nor as a spectator. The only exception is golf, which my father plays, and for that reason, he often talks about it at home always.”
The one in Nanga Parbat was my dad’s first long ride. How did it go?
“Yes, I’ve been gone for about a month now and that’s never happened. It’s different for sure, my wife must have tried in recent weeks to explain to Oliver where his dad is. He’s 10 months old, and who knows how much he’ll be I’ve understood, though that we shall attempt my photographs at high altitudes, and may be the most effective way of explaining to my son what his father does.”
And your wife, Elena, when you greeted them to leave, what did she say to her?
(He laughs). “Be careful, don’t be stupid. He told me this, and I respect the instructions…”.
Parmassi showed off the two lucky little items his two daughters had put in his backpack. Does she have any too?
“No, I was limited to a picture of Elena and Oliver. And then I always had a pair of socks that never leave me, they’ve been with me since my first expedition in the mountains, when I was 17.”
January 11 – 11:01 am
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