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 The 2001 Ararat Peace Climb

This may be the last e-mail I will be able to send until the Ararat climbing is completed. This has been quite an emotional journey for me and has brought mixed emotions with both happy and sad memories not only about my previous Ararat climbs by the South Face but about my whole life as a climber.

Eleven years ago I met here in Turkey the great astronaut James Irwin who was part of the Apollo XV mission that went to the dark side of the moon who driving the historical lunar chariot "Rover" over the Apennine Mountains reported the sighting of some strange constructions and maybe ....

Touched by that experience he quit NASA and founded the High Flight school in Seattle dedicated to the pursue of spiritual awareness and well being and to the search of Noah's Ark here in Ararat. When I met him he had already been here six times and on that hot August of 1990 he was trying to reach the same glaciers that we may be lucky enough to climb on the North Face where he was sure the Ark had landed according to satellite pictures and other investigations he had obtained at top intelligence levels and kept, he said, hush hush.

Then Iraq invaded Kuwait, the hostilities that led to the Gulf War started and his dreams were shattered. Irwin never returned to Ararat but his words marked me deeply.

And here I am, at Dogubayazit, at the site where many archeologists have been digging and probing trying to find Noah's Ark and if found by any, here or in the North Face glaciers would constitute the greatest archeological find of all time, as it may prove the historical truth of the Bible!

Many things move me to accept this challenge and Noah's Ark was amongst them but first of all I am a climber and I have been one since I was only a 10 year old kid trying to overcome my family problems.

For many people the mountain represents an outside challenge but for me is the conquest of myself, of my ego and my shortcomings and a way to get closer to God.

And today we had the chance to talk to some youngsters from a local school, this was my message. Mountains are a symbol of our  everyday life and challenges and if we can learn the lesson that nature and our souls teach us in every summit we conquer but most important in those we can't achieve then we can translate those experiences to our daily life to become better persons in all senses.

I am sorry to say I am not a "mountain collector" and my ego does not suffer when things go wrong. I suffer when tragedy strikes and I lose a friend climbing.

Nasuh showed those kids his pictures from Everest, K2 and Broad Peak and I have lost friends on those mountains and one moment on that presentation brought again tears to my eyes when I remembered that 14th of August in 1992 when trying to summit K2 I lost my dearest friend Adrian Benitez who fell above 8000 meters never to be found.

Luck is like that, the ice wall we were climbing broke at his side and not at mine. Some centimeters more and I wouldn't be writing these words today.

This, amongst many other incidents in life proves that fate is unfair. Why him? I have asked God many times but also thanking him for sparing me.

It was a moving experience altogether, the theatre was magnificent and totally crowded, my climbing pals and I shared our mountain stories, the kids were excited and for moments long clapping broke the thread of our stories and charged the air with emotions.

When asked by the kids what I have learned from me climbing mountains I answered that now I know that the hardest Everest is the everyday life one.

Every morning I start from zero, from my "base camp" trying to make it through the day and come back home satisfied at night.

Sometimes the daily storms set me back to square one but I have learned overall to be patient and grateful and to love everything I do, that is why I approach my mountains always with enthusiasm and joy.

And above all else I like to share my experiences with the young people who maybe looking for a reason to live, for a way to fulfill their dreams.

Once I was a sorry kid overcoming my parents divorce and the mountain helped me to avoid addictions such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco. That is why I think that if it could help me it can help many others as well.

I think that with courage, honor and self-respect eventually one can summit the mountain of one dreams.

That was my final message to those kids in Dogubayazit. I have not slept well, as all this excitement is taking a toll, but who cares?  Ararat is in front of us. It doesn't matter if some climbers have decided not to come at the last moment. We are here and as a great team of people who are ready to prove we can work in peace and love each other in spite of our differences. I hope that with my new friends we can reach our goal but if that is not possible, living this experience and reaching more people with the message we try to convey will make all worthwhile. I hope one day PEACE will be on earth more than a five letter word.

RICARDO TORRES-NAVA ON ARARAT

To support this vision of peace, please make a donation, via SHIVA charity. You can make a credit card donation by clicking HERE.

For more information on the Peace climb see here.

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