While it gives you certain advantages, it’s rarely fun being the child of a legend. This was confirmed by Simon Messner, 30, earlier this week in an interview with Silvia MC Senette of Corriere del Veneto.
The younger Messner, a filmmaker and climber himself, will soon be leaving for Pakistan with Austria’s Martin Sieberer to try the 7,000m peak that has yet to be climbed. He declined to provide further details but opened up about his famous father, whom he calls Reinhold.
Key points from a blunt interview:
“I discovered the mountain quite late, at the age of 17, precisely because it was so at home but I didn’t care,” said Simon Messner. “But when I tried to climb, it won me over. But I suffer from vertigo: When I was a child, two meters high was enough to make me panic. Then when I returned to the ground, I wanted to go up again to understand what scared me. So, overcoming my limits, I became an alpinist.”
How did his father react to his predicament?
I have my life and he has his life
“I don’t know,” said Messner. “He wasn’t there… When I wanted to know something about him, I had to read [the German tabloid] picture.
“I never hiked with him, nor did he take me on his adventures… It was never easy. He didn’t leave much space for other people, but as long as I was young, it was easier. Today, I no longer want to try to make it run properly. I have my life and he has his.”
What kind of father is Reinhold Messner?
“Kaku, absent. His head is as hard as marble and he can be very capricious. It’s not easy being the son of a legend. Everyone saw it as a myth, but a child didn’t need a legend. He needs a father and [Reinhold] never. I will try to be better when I have children of my own.
Simon Messner has an Austrian girlfriend, Anna, with whom he lives in Innsbruck. He wanted to get married, but Messner had “no interest in marriage”—perhaps because of his father’s marital history. Reinhold, 76, recently married 41-year-old Diane Schumacher—third time at the altar.
I don’t accept that his wife is the same age as my sister
“I have to say that it really bothered me,” said Simon Messner. “I didn’t go to the wedding. I wasn’t invited. I do not accept that his wife is the same age as my sister. But he is Reinhold: If he has something on his mind, he does it. And I keep my distance. It’s not like it used to be.”
More recently, however, he began collaborating with his father on a documentary about the 1976 Manaslu expedition Reinhold, in which two of his comrades were killed in a storm.
“He’s the boss, always,” Simon said. “Our relationship was never a father-son relationship. He’s not an old man like the others.”
About the Author
Jerry Kobalenko is the editor of ExplorersWeb. Canada’s premier Arctic traveler, he is the author of The Horizontal Everest and Arctic Eden, and is currently working on a book about adventures in Labrador. In 2018, he was awarded the Polar Medal by the Governor General of Canada.