I’m on the way to Washington from New York by train. You may be wondering what I’m doing over here? Edurne in the big cities? Well, I’m over in the big cities seeking opportunities which will enable me to go where I most like to be, where I feel most at ease, where I feel that my life belongs: the mountains. But that’s not why I am writing. I’m writing because life, on the other side of the world and far from the people that I love and who love me, has just dealt me a cruel blow.
 
I’ve just received a phone call from Silvio Mondinelli. Unfortunately he wasn’t calling to tell me about his latest mountaineering project. He was calling to give me some bad news, some very bad news: “Mario Merelli has gone.” That’s what he said.
What? “Mario has been involved in a mountaineering accident today and he is no longer with us” he replied. I was unable to speak for a few seconds. My mouth was dry and my heart began to pound. I couldn’t believe it. Not another friend, please. No, no, no….
 
I met Mario in the year 2000. We went to the North of Everest together and we climbed Everest together in 2001. We also went to Dhaulagiri in 2001 and mourned the death of our companion Pepe Garcés on that expedition. We went back to the Himalayas the following year to climb Makalu, and went on various other expeditions together…
 
Alter each expedition Mario would go back to Italy, to Lizzola, to his hotel in the mountains and I would come back to my home until the next expedition. Each of us would lead our own lives, sending each other the odd email between expeditions or the odd phone message to talk about things or simply to let the other know that we were OK. That was until today. There won’t be any more messages from Mario. I received his last one on the 23rd of December, wishing me a Merry Christmas and sending me a hug.
 
It’s strange because I know that I will still expect a message from him from time to time, a few words, because you never really think that such people have really gone. You don’t want them to stop being a part of your life, those friends who are far away but at the same time feel close.

Mario, thanks for being my friend, my confessor on many occasions. Thanks for being such a great person, for loving your friends and for showing it. Thanks for being my team-mate and thanks for every minute that we have spent together where we have been so happy – in the mountains, in the Himalayas. I’ll miss you.

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