Type of Spiritual Experience
Although the excerpt may not state this explicitly, Messner was out of body for most of the time on his descent of Nanga Parbat, caused by a complex mixture of grief at losing his brother, pain, exhaustion and lack of oxygen. In the following, the text in italics is his out of body self watching his physical self and pushing it on – in fact it was largely his Higher self helping his conscious self much of the time, but consciousness kept on transferring back and forth – probably meaning he was close to death.
A description of the experience
Return Through the Diamir Valley
Again I watched myself pick up my bundle of clothes, glance back at the gaiter flapping in the wind, the sign that I was alive, and leave.
The dead glacier ran for 10km down into the valley. The right-hand bank was a strip of bright green meadow flecked with tiny melt water streams. Above, the rocky flanks of the mountain rose steeply. Amongst the tangle of grass bushes, not far from the lateral moraine, a figure was making his lonely way down into the valley. He was exhausted, crawling on his hands and knees. He stopped at a dry stream bed and looked around as if waiting for someone or searching for something. He listened to the silence and then set off again, crawling down the stony bed of the stream, shouting for his brother. But there was no one else there.
My feet were burning, my throat thick with mucous. My legs would not carry me any longer. I crawled on like a wounded animal, heading aimlessly down the valley, a man without a purpose, driven only by the will to survive. I could only hope that I would meet someone soon. 'Just keep going', I said to myself, ' They must be coming soon.' I was talking to myself a lot now. It seemed to help. I could not just sit down and wait to die. No, sitting down would be too dangerous; I would have fallen asleep for ever. And I did not want the others to miss me. So I kept going.
There was a rock the size of a chair in the middle of the stream bed and next to it a little puddle of clear water. I sat down awkwardly, took off my boots and my socks and wiggled my toes, grimacing with pain. My feet were badly swollen, the toes blue. I dipped the useless lumps of meat into the water to cool them down.
It was the wrong thing to do and I knew it. But the soles of my feet were burning and there was a painful pressure near the toes, as if they were about to burst. I could not help myself. I was thirsty, too - dreadfully thirsty - and hungry.
I did not want the others to go past without seeing me, so I kept shouting. 'Hello!' I shouted. 'Hello!' Without help I doubted that I would make it.
Why did I not just sit where I was and do nothing? Because I had to make it home. My mother knew nothing of Gunther's death and my mother could not be left in the dark.
The source of the experienceMessner, Reinhold
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
Reinhold Messner – The Naked Mountain