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Ciao Tom

 - Athletes

We are used to these feelings, that excruciating wait before hearing the news that everything went well. It’s only natural: we know the mountains set their rules and waiting is one of the first ones we get used to. When too many days go by, however, hope gives way to an actual nightmare, well before images can confirm it: Tom and Daniele didn’t make it, they were overcome by Nanga Parbat.

We may find respite in our working lives or other matters, considering this as a (false) remedy and pretending everything goes well, that it’s only a bad dream. When reality kicks in, you feel numb and helpless, overwhelmed by the tangle of thoughts and emotions which besiege and crush you. A thought goes to Tom, Daniele and their families. Then you see Tom’s father, Jim, and his sister Kate, and you think about what life had in store for them.

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Your relationship with Tom flashes by, like a film: the initial contact during the Six North Faces of the Alps project, the first meeting, the shyness of a young man who, almost on a tiptoe, slowly gets to know his “sponsor”. Too distant a word to fully convey the in-depth relationship and bond established between two people. At the end of the day, in fact, you become friends and share precious moments together, indeed parts of your lives, to the extent that, when such tragedies occur, the pain is unbearable.

Tom was a man of few words and his simplicity captured us, for the essential never needs boasting: his skills, style and approach were known to everybody, especially those who had the privilege to get to know him well. Alas, they now belong to the legacy he has left behind him.

Our minds roam free, searching for answers to the many questions which arise: will we ever find them? They are antidotes put in place to alleviate the pain, if at all possible. The science, technology and algorithms that have taken over our lives are pointless here. Nonetheless, they may give us the hope that, somewhere, Tom has already been reunited with his mother Alison, and they are now climbing a marvellous mountain together. Mother and son, brought together in eternity, in a stunning, moving rope-party, that only our eyes fail to see.

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