You must have heard many stories about the love between a mother and her son.
Let me tell you another one, one that you haven’t heard, one that is strange, one that is sad,
but one… that shall remain forever!
The beautiful, strong and confident woman that you see in the pictures is Alison Hargreaves, one of the best female climbers ever. She is holding her 4 day old son, Tom Ballard, at Black Rock overlooking the Derbyshire countryside.
In 1995, Alison became the first woman to climb Mount Everest, solo and unaided. When she reached the peak of Mount Everest on May 13, 1995, she sent a radio message to her son and daughter:
“To Tom and Kate, my dear children, I am on the highest point of the world, and I love you dearly.”
After summit-ing the highest mountain on the planet, Alison decided to take on the toughest mountain on the planet… The King of Mountains… The one and the only… Chogori… K2!
The Savage Mountain forgot that Alison is not just another climber… that she is a mother to two innocent kids, Tom and Kate.. that without her, there shall be no light in their lives.
Alison Hargreaves, along with 6 other climbers, perished on K2 while descending down from the summit.
Exactly one year after her death, Alison’s husband brought their kids all the way to Pakistan.. why? Because both Tom and Kate had a single unique wish,
“Daddy! We want to see Mummy’s Mountain.”
Now, you might not know this but let me tell you… You cannot just go and see K2. Even the strongest of trekkers think twice before doing that. One has to trek through some of the most difficult terrains for two weeks(both ways) to reach K2 basecamp yet Tom and Kate reached there… How couldn’t they… They were no ordinary kids. They came from the womb of Alison Hargreaves, the queen of High Mountains.
Sitting in the shades of the Savage Mountain, Tom and Kate made drawings of the Mountain that took the life of their mother… trying to draw that one Perfect picture that shall have those slopes… under which their mother was sleeping peacefully.
Before returning back from K2 basecamp, Alison’s family decided to place a memorial plaque in her honour. That plaque is still there, just like Alison, and on that plaque William Blake asks,
“In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?”
THE STORY DOES NOT END HERE
24 years later… the little boy Alison used to hold in her arms had turned into a man.. A man who, just like her mother, fell in love with the Mountains. A man who, just like her mother, went so far into them that he never came back.
Yes, after a glittering Mountaineering career, Tom Ballard, Alison Hargreaves’s only son, decided to take on the Killer Mountain – Nanga Parbat in the winters of 2018-2019.
Tom along with Daniele Nardi went missing on the Killer Mountain on 24th February, 2019 and was pronounced dead 2 weeks later.
I think for Tom, it was never about the Mountains only.
I think even after 24 years, he was still looking for her.
And I think..
He was successful…
And now, as we live our ordinary daily lives… the queen and her prince… somewhere up on the highest peaks.. they are smiling.. for they are together again.