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THE SOUTHERN ROUTE
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From the series "Cold sky"
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There is always a bewilderment to cross the path of the South Peak, better known by his Tibetan name composed by Lho (south) and Tse (peak). The Lhotse. 8516 meters, 27940 feet. The fourth highest peak in this world. You face him at the bottom of the Chugkhung valley. Then you walk toward the mammoth, through rhododendrons, along beaten-earth slopes, on screw-covered tilts; you walk through your sweat, your heavy breath, your socks' holes. He's still in front of you, growing up at each of your steps. His build changes, from the one of a remote guardian to a Goliath, then, at 4578 meters (15000 feet), you touch his feet. The feet of Jupiter, God of the sky, of the thunder, of the other Gods. He's even more powerful than the Everest, hidden so often; the presence of the Lhotse, in the middle of the Himalayas, is a mighty one. He overwhelms you because, when you arrive near, you can touch the rock making the cliff of his south face and yet see his face. No more valleys between you and him. Just an ascent to heaven. Better to stop, to sit, to smile. You contemplate a wonder, with the feeling that, such a company, it will be once in your lifetime (in fact I came back twice, just to prove me wrong…). You admire, on the left, a peak called the Lhotse Shar (8386 m/27,513 ft) then you walk with your imagination on the steep ridge and you arrive at the Lhotse Middle (8410 m/27,592 ft). Finally, you climb at the main summit. There, you give Jupiter a peck on the cheek. It's right now you feel that the giant God is as cold as the ice on Mars. Your lips freeze. For sure, it's just a grave. Jupiter is dead a long time ago.

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