Much like this winter climbing season, last year at this time I was posting frequent updates on the teams who were attempting to summit 8000 meter peaks in the coldest, harshest months of the year. One of the climbers that I followed closely was a Joël Wischnewski, a French climber and snowboarder who was attempting a solo summit on Nanga Parbat. Reading his posts from the mountain were both a joy and a challenge. It was clear that he loved being in the mountains, but it was evident that he was struggling physically and emotionally. Eventually those updates from Nanga stopped, and we all feared the worst. For days the mountaineering community held out hope that Joël would appear safe and sound, having lost power to his satellite phone or some other issue. But as time went by, we all acknowledged that the mountain had claimed the life of another climber.
This past fall, Joël’s body was discovered on Nanga Parbat by a group of climbers. Eventually, it was brought down the mountain and laid to rest in the Herrligkoffer climber’s cemetery, closing the last chapter on his life and hopefully providing some closure for his family too. I’m sure not knowing his ultimate fate was a challenge.
Now, his family has posted a note on Joël’s website, dedicating it in his honor. They have also shared a link to the photos that he had taken while climbing on Nanga Parbat. Those images were found on Joël’s camera when his body was discovered. The photos are beautiful and serve as a lasting legacy of a young man who loved to climb and was taken from his loved ones at too early an age.
Joël’s family asked me to share these links with readers, many of whom no doubt followed his expedition last year. I am happy to do so now, so that we can choose to remember him as the talented and ambitious climber that he was. He perished doing what he loved most, and I continue to offer condolences to his family.