UKC

Tom Ballard documentary

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 ralphio 27 Sep 2021

This was on last night if anyone missed it.

The Last Mountain: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00103ms via @bbciplayer

In reply to ralphio:

Thanks for posting the link. What did you think of it? I'm hoping to catch up on it this week. 

In reply to OneBeardedWalker:

I watched the first hour last night. I mean it's a gut wrenching story. I felt the first 40 minutes though really concentrates a bit heavily on his death, but it seems to be going back to his achievements prior to that which were immense for such a young guy. Looking forward to the last section of it now...

In reply to OneBeardedWalker:

I find the whole story very sad.  'Regions of the Heart' struck me as a well researched book, and Ed Douglas in particular, I have come to respect as a highly credible journalist. If taken at face value, the reader of  that book is left with a very different emotional position towards Jim Ballard and the background to Alison's exploits than the viewer of last night's documentary. Of course the vast majority of viewers probably won't have read RotH, nor followed the story closely from within the climbing community  - so I'm not sure how they would have received the film. I felt.....compromised? Some great footage, and TB was clearly a great Alpinist, but that's not really the story here.

 tonyw 27 Sep 2021
In reply to WVRox:

Thanks for that, have not read RotH, but have just ordered a copy, while I knew of Alison Hargreaves and remember the treatment she received in the media following the K2 tragedy, I did not know the background, but there was something very disturbing in the film last night, despite which I found utterly compelling. The footage of Tom and Daniele on Nanga Parbat was terrifying and stunning at the same time, mixed with the footage from their childhood was so touching. And in the midst of those dominant characters, the story was centred around Kate trying to find her way through. I still don't know what to make of it all.

 Ben Carey 27 Sep 2021
In reply to OneBeardedWalker:

I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it. The film left me feeling very uneasy, partly because it re-awakens memories of the controversy (never resolved as we all have personal views) following Alison's death. That was, and remains, the question of whether one should take part in climbing, or any other dangerous sport, right on the edge of survival and where the outcome cannot be foreseen, when one is the parent of small children. Justifiable? Or just plain selfish? Who can say?

 ralphio 27 Sep 2021
In reply to OneBeardedWalker:

It's good. I was a blubbering wreck by the end.

In reply to Ben Carey:

> I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it. The film left me feeling very uneasy, partly because it re-awakens memories of the controversy (never resolved as we all have personal views) following Alison's death.

What’s there to resolve? What view is there to have on AH death that doesn’t apply to the hundreds of others who have died climbing in the Himalayas?

People keep taking of this controversy but really there was no such thing, where was this controversy? When the entirety of the climbing media consists of 3 monthly magazines a single letter to one of these assume a disproportionate significance but really it doesn’t mean anymore than one person’s post on here (other than that one person felt strongly enough to buy a stamp!)

Post edited at 13:42
 Jamie Wakeham 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tyler:

> People keep taking of this controversy but really there was no such thing, where was this controversy? 

The obnoxious Nigella Lawson, hammering Alison Hargreaves posthumously in the national press for risk-taking whilst a mother.  

 Ben Carey 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tyler:

If people keep talking of this controversy it's because for many climbing parents there is a personal dilemma here. If you are in that position, have considered the responsibilities and come to a conclusion, then fair enough. And clearly there is a difference between local rock climbing with plenty of protection and pushing the boundaries in the Himalaya. But if you do not even see that there is a question to be resolved - well, I find that surprising.  

 Phil1919 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Ben Carey:

She also climbed the North face of the Eiger whilst 6 months pregnant.......

 Speed Reed 27 Sep 2021
In reply to ralphio:

An astonishing film. Utterly captivating and devastatingly sad at the same time. The mountains that were trying to be conquered became somewhat insignificant in comparison to the real life emotions of the climbers, partners ,parents and everyone else connected to Tom and Alison. Getting to the end of this film was not easy.To me the film displayed the utmost sensitivity but at the same time was totally open and frank.Again this film is devastatingly sad but the overwhelmingly tragic nature of Alisons demise up to and beyond Tom losing his life does try to somehow leave a glimmer of hope from the depths of despair. The honesty, resilience and eloquence that all the different people in this film displayed was incredibly moving and will stay in my thoughts for a very long time in particular  the relationship  of Ibrahim (Kates guardian during the pilgrimage to K2 to see where their mums final resting place) which was especially moving and just goes to show that cultures, age ,gender become irrelevant when the chips are down. Trying to make sense of the many different facets of this film is obviously not necessary however if their is one sentiment that could somehow find its way from such an epic story is that life is a very very serious business and it is definitely not a dress rehearsal.

In reply to Phil1919:

Her call, no-one else's business. A woman's body doesn't become public property when she becomes pregnant.

There were sexist double standards at play in the aftermath of her death as well - how many fathers have died in the mountains without the same public controversy?

 Rob Exile Ward 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tyler:

The influence of Jim Ballard is also a complicating factor. RotH is a compelling read.

In reply to pancakeandchips:

> Her call, no-one else's business. A woman's body doesn't become public property when she becomes pregnant.

Would you draw a distinction in this discussion between a pregnant woman and a parent of young children taking extreme risks?

Post edited at 20:01
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> The influence of Jim Ballard is also a complicating factor. RotH is a compelling read.

Makes you wonder how much influence Jim had over Kate in doing the film.

In reply to Robert Durran:

Yes, I would, although I still don't think it's my place to judge since she was far more qualified to assess the risks she was taking than I will ever be.

 DaveHK 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> The obnoxious Nigella Lawson, hammering Alison Hargreaves posthumously in the national press for risk-taking whilst a mother.  

That was shameful.

In reply to pancakeandchips:

> Yes, I would, although I still don't think it's my place to judge since she was far more qualified to assess the risks she was taking than I will ever be.

So, if there is a distinction, assuming a risk of say 1 in 10 of dying (probably realistic for the stuff she was doing), do you think being six months pregnant is more less justifiable than having a young child? I can see arguments both ways.

Post edited at 21:32
In reply to Robert Durran:

I think its a choice for the parent, not for me. Some of my partners have young families and I don't presume to tell them what they should or shouldn't climb. Saying that, personally I would be more worried about leaving a child without a parent than I would be about dying with an unborn baby.

 Trangia 27 Sep 2021
In reply to ralphio:

A good film, but sad and poignant. I met and chatted to Alison at a fund raising talk just before she went to K2. A very motivated person with a great passion for the sport.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> The obnoxious Nigella Lawson, hammering Alison Hargreaves posthumously in the national press for risk-taking whilst a mother.  

I wasn’t aware of those articles, do you have any links? I can’t find the original but this quotes extensively one from *before* her death but does allude to there might be things written posthumously.

https://www.himalayanclub.org/hj/56/15/the-morality-of-risk/

She also says “not that it is any more culpable to be mother and risk your children’s happiness and security unnecessarily than it is to be a farther who does the same thing”.

 Jamie Wakeham 27 Sep 2021
In reply to Tyler:

Mmm.  Oddly enough, it seems to be impossible to find the actual articles that Lawson wrote in the Times now.  The one that Ed Douglas quotes, written after she'd climbed Everest but before she died, describes "a vainglorious attempt to be praised for courage... if <she> values life so little maybe we should not worry on their behalf if they lose it...this sort of me-first mountaineering <is> so contemptible". 

Yes, she does say that it is no more culpable to be a mother than a father... but she is only taking the time to write her article about a woman.  Polly Toynbee was even more direct, accusing her of behaving 'like a man'.

After Alison died there was more of the same from Lawson in The Times, very much doubling down on her position.  As I recall little or no mention of the five men who died with her - the article was very much about Alison Hargreaves.  But no longer findable, at least not to my google skills.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> The one that Ed Douglas quotes, written after she'd climbed Everest but before she died, describes "a vainglorious attempt to be praised for courage... if values life so little maybe we should not worry on their behalf if they lose it...this sort of me-first mountaineering so contemptible". 

I’m not here to defend NL but changing “the Alison Hargreaves’s of this world” to “she”, as you have done above gives a different emphasis to her words. 

> Polly Toynbee was even more direct, accusing her of behaving 'like a man'.

You’re just quoting the article, I provided for you, back at me to make you sound authoritative, do you work in consultancy by any chance?!

> After Alison died there was more of the same from Lawson in The Times, very much doubling down on her position. 

You say doubling down but provide no evidence, meanwhile, everyone be is outraged about an article return before her death, which makes the points out that any criticism of AH applies equally to male parents. 
All of which is irrelevant to my original point which is that the odd Rent a gob columnist does not make a controversy and at the time I don’t recall there being one  

Post edited at 00:01
 DaveHK 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Tyler:

> All of which is irrelevant to my original point which is that the odd Rent a gob columnist does not make a controversy and at the time I don’t recall there being one  

I too remember her copping a load of flak in the mainstream media mainly around her being a woman with young children who who went Himalayan climbing.

Maybe controversy is the wrong word but her death certainly drew a lot of media attention of a kind that hopefully wouldn't happen today or at least would be restricted to bampots like Katie Hopkins rather than appearing in mainstream media like the Times.

​​​​​​And no, I'm not going to bother searching for evidence to convince you.

Post edited at 06:52
 Martin W 28 Sep 2021

Just for information: Alison's Last Mountain the 1996 documentary about the trip that Jim, Tom and Kate made to K2 base camp will be shown on BBC2 on Thursday at 23:15.  It will be available on iPlayer subsequently: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0010472

Post edited at 07:44
 subtle 28 Sep 2021
In reply to ralphio:

I watched it, and was rather surprised at some of the comments aimed towards Daniele Nardi.

A sad end to two talented climbers ultimately.

 Sean Kelly 28 Sep 2021
In reply to ralphio:

Most of this ill-informed bile is from the non-climbing world. If you have been climbing long enough we will all be acquainted with some young woman & mother that tragically died in the mountains. You roll the dice and it doesn't have to be in the Himalayas or Alps where these accidents occur. What would be the reaction if there was a female Lewis Hamilton with young family?

 Offwidth 28 Sep 2021
In reply to WVRox:

I've got mixed feelings about the film but I can't deny it raises an emotional response that encourages thought on the subject. My background unease is not just the influence of Regions of the Heart: the recent sad death of David Roberts had led me to reread key passages from On the Ridge Between Life and Death, on the subject of risk justification in the high mountains and the emotional costs of loss. The response to loss in this film is very much on show, so much so at times it almost feels voyeuristic to watch.

The reasons people climb in such places, where risks are so high, are highly complex and it's hard to assess choice unless near equally driven, skilled and experienced. Relationships are often damaged just by the knowledge of loved ones facing such risk. There is no place for simplistic judgement here and there was certainly no place for the horrible sexist partiality that Alison faced. I still think it is for the climber to chose, but I hope they chose well and never forget just how serious objective risk can be.  So many great talents have gone, with sometimes terrible impact on their families and friends.

Post edited at 09:50
 Jamie Wakeham 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Tyler:

> I’m not here to defend NL but changing “the Alison Hargreaves’s of this world” to “she”, as you have done above gives a different emphasis to her words. 

Not very much, and I made it abundantly clear that I'd paraphrased <she> because 'the Alison Hargreaves' of this world' would have taken rather longer.  The pdfs of the lecture don't allow copy'n'paste.

> You’re just quoting the article, I provided for you, back at me to make you sound authoritative, do you work in consultancy by any chance?!

No, I'm a physicist and climbing instructor.  I'm quoting from Ed Douglas' lecture because that's the only copy of Nigella Lawson's first article that's easily findable these days.

My point, which I had thought was clear, was that you had cherry picked the only vaguely reasonable* point out of an otherwise continuous stream of sexist and objectionable tripe.

* well, it's that the view that all mountaineers with children are selfish and we shouldn't mourn them.  I doubt that will gain much traction here.

> You say doubling down but provide no evidence...  All of which is irrelevant to my original point which is that the odd Rent a gob columnist does not make a controversy and at the time I don’t recall there being one  

There was enough that Ed Douglas spoke about it in some detail in this lecture, which several institutions including the Alpine Journal saw fit to publish.

It is frustrating that it's so hard to find newspaper articles from the period; I've just had a quick go and cannot find original versions of either of Lawson's articles, or Toynbee's.  But we know full well they were written because Ed Douglas references them in his lecture and in RotH.  I was only 17 in 1995 and don't remember it terribly well; my wife is older than me and recalls it very clearly.  

Actually, I've just been flicking through my copy of RotH, and found that my wife kept the 1995 Observer page with Jim Perrin's obits of both Alison Hargreaves and Paul Nunn, who died a couple of days before.  It's interesting that of Nunn, Perrin writes that he had "a massive competence allied to fine judgement and prudence. You felt the only way he could have died in the mountains was as a result of an unavoidable accident" and quotes Doug Scott saying this "must have been the result of exceptional conditions or bad luck".  On Alison Hargreaves, Perrin takes time to point out that she wasn't a very good rock climber, and writes "another hubristic ending, another sturdy wilful fine life extinguished".  The contrast is quite shocking.

 Offwidth 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

It's not just the contrast that is shocking it's the sexism in the view of Alison itself. How much more did she need to do to prove she was an exceptional mountaineering talent irrespective of her gender? To regard her as hubristic is really to damn any leading edge high alpinism and to deny the meaning that gives to lives of such talents. Sadly such sexist muddled thinking from Perrin is no surprise.

 wilkesley 28 Sep 2021
In reply to ralphio:

I haven't watched it yet.  I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the influence of her husband. Try Googling "alison hargreaves husband" and you will find Google has blocked some results. Ask Geoff Birtles, who went to school with him. 

 Jamie Wakeham 28 Sep 2021
In reply to wilkesley:

I also haven't watched it, but it rather sounds like it has whitewashed Jim Ballard.  It's clear from RotH that Ed Douglas believes she was driven to try to do so much, so fast, because she needed a stable career path to get herself and her children away from him.

To be scrupulously fair to Lawson, Toynbee and Perrin, this was not known when they were writing.  The irony that Lawson herself later had to leave an allegedly abusive husband does not escape me, and I wonder how she feels about what she said about Hargreaves now.

 Dangerous Dave 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

The Husband did seam emotionally detached the whole time I didn't warm to him at all.

Are you saying it was known at the time he was a wife beater? I don't know anything about him.

 Jamie Wakeham 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Dangerous Dave:

It's a long time since I read RotH.  I don't remember if there was a suggestion of physical abuse but it certainly describes a pattern of emotional abuse.  A lightning skim through the last pages tells me that she had told several friends she was planning to divorce him and was climbing K2 because she felt that it would give her sufficient media exposure to be able, financially, to survive.

This was not public knowledge at the time of her death.

 seankenny 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> I also haven't watched it, but it rather sounds like it has whitewashed Jim Ballard. 

I watched half of it last night with my partner, who has little interest in climbing and certainly no knowledge of this particular business. She disliked Jim Ballard from the moment he appeared on screen saying "he makes my flesh crawl". The scene where he's told his son is probably dead is damning without saying anything overt.

In reply to seankenny:

Finished it off last night and yes, Jim Ballard leaves an unpleasant taste in your mouth - he seems to have zero empathy or compassion for anyone, even his daughter. To me it seems that Tom for whatever reason was doing something which went against his nature - he was with someone else, doing something really really ambitious. I couldn't but feel that had he been on his own he might have made better decisions. Maybe the camaraderie he found climbing with Danielle clouded his decisions? Maybe it was just bad decision making on his part, we'll never know. Absolutely tragic...

In reply to wilkesley:

Alison started her relationship with jim when very young 16-17 while working for him as a Saturday girl in his shop, coming from a very outdoorsy loving family she wanted more of the same unfortunately she thought Jim could provide these requirements, unfortunately she got caught up in his ambition and ego.

Post edited at 15:34
 Dangerous Dave 28 Sep 2021
In reply to robert-hutton:

What were Jim's ambitions and ego? The film didn't show him doing anything outdoorsy or mention his interests.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

For me this raises (again) wider questions about the motivations of professional climbers. Their job is to continually push boundaries, going bigger and bolder and harder, to stay in the limelight and continue making money for/from sponsors. If someone's financial security and independence, and that of their children, depends on placing themselves at serious risk, then what are the ethical implications for the people who pay the bills? Gear companies, film makers, climbing websites etc etc and ultimately the consumers who watch the films and buy the clobber that fund it all. Its wonderful that this industry can facilitate some people excelling in the sport they love, but surely at some point sponsored elite climbers must feel pressure to go beyond their comfort zone?

The social media aspect of the way that Nardi in particular documented their expedition made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I guess the pursuit of fame has always been and will always be a motivator for some ambitious climbers, but have things changed now that its easier to monetise celebrity?

In reply to Dangerous Dave:

> What were Jim's ambitions and ego? The film didn't show him doing anything outdoorsy or mention his interests.

Jim owned an outdoor shop in Matlock bath with his wife and held court with the local climbers who passed by or worked for him.

In reply to seankenny:

> The scene where he's told his son is probably dead is damning without saying anything overt.

His lack of overt emotion was startling, but it might have just been his way of dealing with it, especially with a camera stuck in his face - maybe. The scene and the filming of it did make me feel uneasy.

My memory of the book was that he was both pushing her and that she was pushing herself to be able to get away from him.

The whole set up was really tragic.

In reply to DaveHK:

> Maybe controversy is the wrong word but her death certainly drew a lot of media attention of a kind that hopefully wouldn't happen today or at least would be restricted to bampots like Katie Hopkins rather than appearing in mainstream media like the Times.

I think that probably all of us who have climbed seriously have considered how our death or a serious accident might effect those close to us, so it is a perfectly legitimate subject for discussion. 

Between Everest and K2, Alison courted the media (or maybe Jim Ballard did on her behalf). The film showed interviews on mainstream TV very much emphasising her motherhood and with her children almost acting as cheerleaders for her climbing. A few weeks later she was dead. Given her high media profile, I think it was only natural and perfectly acceptable that the media should then examine her choice to undertake extreme risks in the mountains while with young children. Yes, some of it was sexist and ignorant, but it was understandably controversial and a legitimate discussion to have. 

 Rob Parsons 28 Sep 2021
In reply to robert-hutton:

> Alison ... thought Jim could provide these requirements, unfortunately she got caught up in his ambition and ego.

What is Jim Ballard's own climbing record/CV?

 seankenny 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> The scene where he's told his son is probably dead is damning without saying anything overt.

> His lack of overt emotion was startling, but it might have just been his way of dealing with it, especially with a camera stuck in his face - maybe. The scene and the filming of it did make me feel uneasy.

Well of course - who on earth would choose to be filmed at a moment like that? It's quite clear he chose to do so. Contrast his glibness in the face of tragedy with the reaction of Ibrahim the porter who was clearly very upset about Tom Ballard's death.

 James Gilbert 28 Sep 2021
In reply to ralphio:

I think the UKC digital feature from 2015 is also worth a read for those who haven't seen it: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/in_focus/starlight_and_storm_alison_hargreaves_and_tom_ballard-7210#1

In reply to seankenny:

I’ve not watched this and don’t know the backstory regarding Jim Ballard, and it does sound like there is some uncomfortable background to all this. But at the same time, being visibly upset is a poor benchmark for someone’s emotional state. For a significant minority of people their default response to extreme distress is to kinda shut down emotionally and really internalise any response to it. It seems really hard to understand if that isn’t how you react, but it doesn’t mean someone isn’t really hurting. 

 Rob Exile Ward 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Rob Parsons:

I *think* he was a caver as much/more than a climber, and wrote 'Let's go caving' or something like it. Unless it was a different Ballard.

I remember calling in at his shop in 198?, it wasn't  very good. He was talking about a certain J Dawes - 'who he?' was my (ignorant) quip.

 daWalt 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> I’ve not watched this

17:40 min, and 1:32:30.

the latter one is a bit of a jarring remark considering a number of people have taken serious risks in attempting a rescue. everyone will have their own view.

 Trangia 28 Sep 2021
In reply to ralphio:

The other person in the film who made my flesh crawl was the cigar smoking Italian Ambassador. I thought that Ibrahim came across as a genuine caring and compassionate human being. A lovely gentleman.

 Trangia 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Stuart Williams:

> For a significant minority of people their default response to extreme distress is to kinda shut down emotionally and really internalise any response to it. It seems really hard to understand if that isn’t how you react, but it doesn’t mean someone isn’t really hurting. 

It was also very apparent from the film that he and Kate had formed a very strong and loving bond through their shared grief. 

In reply to Trangia:

Yes that scene was crazy. What an awful way to talk to someone who has just lost their brother.

 Pedro50 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Trangia:

> It was also very apparent from the film that he and Kate had formed a very strong and loving bond through their shared grief. 

But this is the great elephant in the room which the film sidesteps.Has Katie ever read RotH? Has the filmmaker? Did Tom?

Post edited at 19:15
 Rob Parsons 28 Sep 2021
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> I *think* he was a caver as much/more than a climber, and wrote 'Let's go caving' or something like it. Unless it was a different Ballard.

Ah ha, thanks. Looks like you're right:

https://speleobooks.secure-mall.com/item/Guide-to-the-Sporting-Caves-and-Potholes-and-Mines-of-Derbyshire-by-Jim-Ballard-1974-3571

https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-ie/books/jim-ballard/caving/9780904978933

In reply to pancakeandchips:

God I’d forgotten about the ambassador… what a tool! Who the hell sparks up a fat cuban to tell someone their brother had a “cruel death” other than a flippin bond villain?

In reply to beardy mike:

As soon as he lit up a cigar for the camera, I knew he was going to be an absolute weapon. And about 10 seconds later, he confirmed it.

I felt so bad for Kate. She got no real empathy or emotional support from her father, and then she runs into that smarmy weirdo when trying to find answers and some closure. 

As an aside, Jims reaction to finding out his son was dead was bonkers to me. I'm someone who typically doesn't cry at death, and I've had people think it's strange in the past. But even I think his reaction was absurdly matter of fact, and emotionless. 

I thought it was strange how he talked about Alisons death and having to tell his kids, within the first 5 minutes of the film. But figured maybe a lot of time had passed between it, and the interview he was giving at that point. 

But then he barely flinches when he's told his son definitely died. 

I guess Tom had been out of contact for many days at that point, so maybe he did his making peace with the situation days before after realising the odds were slim. I dunno, just all seemed strange to me. 

Still need to watch the second half. 

In reply to robert-hutton:

> Jim owned an outdoor shop in Matlock bath with his wife and held court with the local climbers who passed by or worked for him.

I was one of the local cavers/ climbers at the time; he was a slimy so-and-so and best avoided I thought at the time. Alison was a friend of a friend and seemed a lovely sunny but very driven person. Never could understand the attraction.

 HP 29 Sep 2021
In reply to subtle:

I was left feeling that there must have been some unpleasant mind games going on between Nardi - obsessed with his goal at any cost - and Ballard - strong and talented climber but somewhat naive in judging other people. Nardi tried to get the other climber to change his mind about quitting by asking him “are you scared”. 
If I were on this remote, cold, dangerous route with Nardi I would have felt pretty lonely.  

In reply to StoneG:

The ambassador seemed very odd, although I did wonder if it was to some degree that it was something wildly beyond his normal remit. In my old job I used to meet ambassadors fairly regularly - they are after all reasonably successful civil servants whose normal world is negotiating with host country politicians and civil servants, and promoting the economic interests of their home country in their host country. Breaking the news to a distraught young woman (from a third country) about her brother's death (also not a citizen of your country) in a second or third language, while being filmed by a film crew from that third country - is just pretty weird. It could have been done much better I'm sure, but maybe just not by him. 

I was genuinely very upset reading about Hargreaves's death. I was in Kathmandu having just done a very small and humble (although it still failed miserably due to the weather) Himalayan trip of our own. But living in Scotland at that time, beyond reading about her in the mags, I remember seeing Alison in the Clachaig having tea with her kids when they were tiny, and my mate knew the woman who I think did PR for Nevis Range, and ended up seeming to do PR for Alison as well (and I seem to remember having to act as a spokesperson after Alison's death). It was all horribly sad. I read Regions of the Heart years ago too - I think I actually won a copy in a very early UKC competition - so I guess my view of it all was rather influenced by that. I've watched about 2/3rds of the documentary so far - and decided I wouldn't wade into this thread with my own hot takes and cod-psychoanalysis.

So my only thoughts are it was lovely in the film to meet Tom's girlfriend, Pederiva. Somehow the reports we read over the last 10 years or so of his climbing made him seem a bit a of lonely figure, with tragedy of his mum's death always in the background. But Stefy seems lovely and from what you can tell from a bit of film - it looked like they were really happy together. My other thought was doesn't Kate (and true of Tom in the interviews also) have an interesting accent? It's a bit like Lyse Doucet's - quite hard to pin down geographically! At some points clearly Scottish, but at other times flitting away - maybe South African? Maybe sounding like a good but non-native speaker of English from somewhere in Europe?

My sympathies are with Kate and Stefy, and even with Jim Ballard - I can't believe that for anyone the loss of child isn't heartbreaking, no matter how they do or don't express it.

 timjones 29 Sep 2021
In reply to Pedro50:

> But this is the great elephant in the room which the film sidesteps.Has Katie ever read RotH? Has the filmmaker? Did Tom?

Should any of them read have read the book, what would it do to help any of them?

It is a long time since I read it but I can remember  feeling uneasy about the authors faith in their own ability to judge other people's relationships.

In reply to TobyA:

> I was genuinely very upset reading about Hargreaves's death. I was in Kathmandu having just done a very small and humble (although it still failed miserably due to the weather) Himalayan trip of our own. But living in Scotland at that time, beyond reading about her in the mags, I remember seeing Alison in the Clachaig having tea with her kids.

Yes, I remember it being a particularly shocking death. I'd seen her in Nevisport with her children just a few weeks earlier. I also think it might sometimes, with all the controversies, be easy to overlook what an extremely fine alpinist she was; her record has stood the test of time and I'm not sure has been surpassed by any British woman. Soloing the Croz is a big deal by any standards.

> So my only thoughts are it was lovely in the film to meet Tom's girlfriend, Pederiva. Somehow the reports we read over the last 10 years or so of his climbing made him seem a bit a of lonely figure, with tragedy of his mum's death always in the background. But Stefy seems lovely and from what you can tell from a bit of film - it looked like they were really happy together.

Yet, and I thought the final exchange of messages was one of the more disturbing parts of the film, he chose to follow the obsessed Nardi on their obviously reckless climb over her.

Post edited at 13:15
 Rob Parsons 29 Sep 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> ... My other thought was doesn't Kate (and true of Tom in the interviews also) have an interesting accent? It's a bit like Lyse Doucet's - quite hard to pin down geographically! At some points clearly Scottish, but at other times flitting away - maybe South African? Maybe sounding like a good but non-native speaker of English from somewhere in Europe?

Kate lived in South Africa for a while.

Likewise, I suppose Tom's accent was shaped by living in Italy, and speaking in Italian.

 Iamgregp 29 Sep 2021
In reply to seankenny:

No I don't agree.  They were already filming when the phone rang unexpectantly, he answered and received the news, and the filmmaker did what any decent filmmaker would do and carried on rolling. 

I don't think it was a conscious decision, "here... come and film whilst I get told my son is probably dead" just something that happened....

Post edited at 13:58
 Iamgregp 29 Sep 2021
In reply to pancakeandchips:

If it would let me like this comment more than once I'd have hit that button 100 times.

I'm a new father, and my partner will not be told by anyone what she she should and should and shouldn't do as a pregnant woman and now mother.  I love her all the more for that. 

 Rob Parsons 29 Sep 2021
In reply to Iamgregp:

> If it would let me like this comment more than once I'd have hit that button 100 times.

> I'm a new father, and my partner will not be told by anyone what she she should and should and shouldn't do as a pregnant woman and now mother.  I love her all the more for that. 


On receiving criticism for climbing the North Face of the Eiger while pregnant, Alison Hargreave's own succinct rebuttal was that she 'was pregnant, not sick.' Quite.

And, for those who don't know, the Stanage route 'Foetus on the Eiger' commemorates the event.

 Iamgregp 29 Sep 2021
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> On receiving criticism for climbing the North Face of the Eiger while pregnant, Alison Hargreave's own succinct rebuttal was that she 'was pregnant, not sick.' Quite.

Fantastic.  Love this.

Since conception our foetus and child has been to Kalymnos, Portland twice and is off to Kalymnos again on Saturday.  Not bad for a 12 week old...

 wilkesley 29 Sep 2021
In reply to Rob Parsons:

She had also consulted her doctor, who apparently said it was OK to go ahead. I can't imagine any risk-averse GP saying that today.

Edit. You should probably ask Hovis as he was the person she climbed with.

Post edited at 17:54
 Phil1919 30 Sep 2021
In reply to Iamgregp:

......but others are still allowed to make a judgement on how wise it was. Really enjoyed the documentary. I'm left thinking how their early life experiences shaped the lives of both children. They both suffered horribly and benefitted joyfully from how they were brought up in their first few years. 

Post edited at 11:34
In reply to robert-hutton:

Interesting you say this because I found Jim’s and Tom’s relationship quite hard to understand. I thought it was really weird that Jim had to follow us to every climb we did with Tom and there was always a publicity angle, and also that Jim would never let Tom be alone with us. The only time you could chat with Tom alone was high up on belays. I found the whole relationship weird, and Tom’s ultimate motivation for climbing quite obscure, he certainly didn’t do it just for fun. I thought he was a lovely chap, denied of many things like an education and a growing up experience with fellow peers, it would have give him some perspective. And say this because I don’t know how many of his decisions where his or his dads. Like leaving the Fort William home age 14 because “he wasn’t understood” (Jim’s words), to take him out of school and go live in a small van with no money. Surely that wasn’t a 14yo decision… I remember after doing ‘Vertical limit’ M12 at Ueschenen Tom just seemed resentful with Jim, rather than happy, which I didn’t understand at the time. When I watched the movie “Tom” I could see the same reaction every time he was down from an incredible achievement. I found the whole thing really sad for some reason, specially for Kate, who had lost a brother and a mother, and had a father ill-equipped for supporting her on such a massive life challenge. 

In reply to Ramon Marin:

If Tom and his Dad started living that slightly peculiar lifestyle when Tom was 14, do you know what Kate did Ramon? Did she leave Scotland too? I don't think I realised Tom was so young when he started climbing basically full time. 

In reply to Ramon Marin:

What is this movie "Tom". I don't remember it. Is it available to watch?

 Rob Parsons 30 Sep 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> What is this movie "Tom". I don't remember it. Is it available to watch?

vimeo.com/395664529

(Its was mentioned here a couple of years ago, and it was made freely available for viewing after his death.)

 65 30 Sep 2021
In reply to Ramon Marin:

Interesting contribution.

I found 'Tom' an uncomfortable watch. The relationship between him and his father was difficult to fathom without jumping to generally uncharitable conclusions. Tom himself came across as a very sincere and focussed man but entirely consumed by his mother's legacy and on a trajectory which looked as his father had played a big part in directing for his own ends. Of course there must be more to this scenario and much more to the person Tom was but this was all I took from the film.

I think it also might be the only climbing film I've seen where the profound joy and satisfaction of climbing was completely absent. That's based on recollection from having seen it when it appeared, maybe I should watch it again though I don't really want to.

 Rob Parsons 30 Sep 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Yet, and I thought the final exchange of messages was one of the more disturbing parts of the film, he chose to follow the obsessed Nardi on their obviously reckless climb over her.

This is a very mundane question under the circumstances, but I have been wondering how exactly those messages were being exchanged. That is: what technology was in use, and did it allow messages to be sent from the route itself, or only from the base camp?

 r0b 30 Sep 2021
In reply to Rob Parsons:

InReach probably. That's what Elisabeth Revol had on her Nanga Parbat climb (and descent/rescue) IIRC

In reply to Phil1919:

This whole saga was and is driven by JB and his manipulation of wife and kids for vicarious fame and or money. How many families are followed by film crews for 40 years and how many young kids express a desire to witness the scene of their mothers demise, given where it is? There might be a film in that. I remember when Alison first appeared on the Peak scene, driven on by Jim, who was a caver, claiming her to be a top UK female climber of the day. She believed the hype and I remember her telling me that she could lead E5,s if she liked. I rather ungraciously told her to concentrate on trying E2,s first. Then came alpinism and a genuine talent, soloing Dru and Jorasses N. Faces and the Lauper route on the Eiger. And she followed it up with an oxygen free solo of Everest, which displayed a remarkable physiology. Then death on K2, but the show rolled on with the focus now being Tom who developed into a world class climber. There might also be a film or films in that. I found the section about Tom, once he distanced himself from Jim as a thoroughly likeable young man in a stable and loving relationship. The fact that he went to his death with a Nanga Parbat fanatic who developed summit fever may have been influenced by his upbringing.. Yet still the saga rolls on with Jim getting more exposure via his daughter. A very sad tale played out over several decades, but obviously there were massive highs, lows and elation for Alison, Tom and Kate. To me, the way he faced such tragedy, I feel Jim may actually be devoid of emotions, as well as exploitative. Apart from undeniable facts this is just my perception and may not actually be the truth, but this whole post is about speculation.

In reply to Philb1950:

> Apart from undeniable facts this is just my perception and may not actually be the truth, but this whole post is about speculation.

I suspect many others' speculations coincide very closely with yours, but they have been tiptoeing around them on here.

 Phil1919 30 Sep 2021
In reply to Philb1950:

Interesting.

Yes, I found it very watchable and unique.

In reply to Philb1950:

I don't want to defend Ballard in any way but if he was really doing all that "for vicarious fame and or money" as you suggest, he hasn't really got either, has he? OK - so he has had walk on parts on a couple of documentaries shown on the BBC, but spread over 25 years, and appears (in a deeply negative light) in one book (about 20 years ago now?) about his deceased wife. Hardly fame. And he seems to have spent a lot time in recent years living in a tent on a campsite in Italy, which while maybe not squalor is hardly glamorous either. So not much sign of money either.

Post edited at 19:48
 65 30 Sep 2021
In reply to daWalt:

> 1:32:30.

> the latter one is a bit of a jarring remark considering a number of people have taken serious risks in attempting a rescue. everyone will have their own view.

Yes, extremely jarring, and revealingly presumptuous, arrogant and callous considering he isn't, afaik, a mountaineer of any pedigree. I was trying to stay on the fence about him but having just finished watching the programme I have pretty much fallen off, with reasonable conviction that I have landed on the correct side.

What a dreadfully sad and tragic family drama. I really felt for Kate, Ebhrahim & Karim.

 Lrunner 30 Sep 2021
In reply to 65:

That's how I felt, just sadness. It seemed so pointless for an exceptional young man and his friend to perish in that way. 

I cried to be honest and felt so sorry for his sister

In reply to TobyA:

The lack of fame or fortune doesn't mean there was no desire for it. 

What Phil and Ramon have said really well explains the off feeling I got watching it. Exploitation. What a contrast to "The Alpinist", which, while it even almost admits to itself that it "wanted more of" Marc-Andre than he was willing to give, it also quite sensitively gave you a really good insight to the lad. 

 Damo 01 Oct 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I suspect many others' speculations coincide very closely with yours, but they have been tiptoeing around them on here.

I think the upvote numbers prove that.

Watching Tom and Jim in various media over the years made my stomach churn - the clichés, the repression/coercion, the myopia. I always held off making any comment because of the reactions to 'judgement' that now accompany any kind of critical comment on social media. I wanted to reach into the screen, grab Tom and try to talk some sense into him.

Remember debate on here when Tom 'planned' to solo K2 in winter many years ago? That was a warning.

I wish people had said more, of the kind of thing that Ramon and Phil have said above.

Politeness is no substitute for honesty.

D

In reply to Alasdair Fulton:

Sure, but it makes me think it has to be a lot more complicated than just a failed desire for fame and fortune. Perhaps more 'enabling' (in the negative sense) than 'exploiting'?

It's some kind of dedication trudging around after your kid seemingly doing little beyond belaying them. I'm sure he got something out of it but I'm not sure what exactly. It definitely wasn't fame or fortune.

But that's why originally I said that's seeing the film of Tom with his girlfriend was nice, despite the tragic end - that sort of suggested there were some 'normal' (whatever that really means) parts to his life.

 seankenny 01 Oct 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> It's some kind of dedication trudging around after your kid seemingly doing little beyond belaying them. I'm sure he got something out of it but I'm not sure what exactly. It definitely wasn't fame or fortune.

Control maybe? 

I got the impression of a failed gambler always hoping for a big pay off. 

 tcashmore 01 Oct 2021
In reply to seankenny:

> Control maybe? 

> I got the impression of a failed gambler always hoping for a big pay off. 

I think it is really difficult to read anything into anyone's relationships based upon an edited film..  Just to put a different spin on it, what about parents of other 'successful'  children, commitment to drive kids to the swimming competitions all over the country - can't be much fun for example.  What is the difference with Jim supporting his child to be a top climber and belaying him ??  Just because it is different to the majorities' experience of life/childhood, doesn't necessarily make it wrong. Perhaps you could read into it that he made many sacrifices to support his child, maybe not.

 65 01 Oct 2021
In reply to tcashmore:

All fair points worthy of consideration.

However, much of the interpretation is based on testimony, or gossip if you will, from several trustworthy people who knew them well, including from way back when Alison was very young. There are some on this thread.

Aside from a very brief exchange of pleasantries with Alison in the Northern Corries where she let me pass her as I was soloing, I didn't know any of them which is why I, (and as Damo and Robert attest, many others), am holding back, after all it would be a dreadful thing to be wrong about (and none of my business). But I knew quite a few people who did know the Ballards both through climbing and from their time in Lochaber and there was a consistent theme which didn't smell good. Beyond reasonable doubt and all that.

Post edited at 11:52
In reply to 65:

Yes, also I think anyone who has read Regions of the Heart would also be very inclined to see him in a sceptical light - the book is pretty damning and I have no reason to doubt either Douglas's or Rose's journalism.

But like you say its very hard to really understand what is going on in other people's minds and lives. 

In reply to Ramon Marin:

> When I watched the movie “Tom” I could see the same reaction every time he was down from an incredible achievement. 

Watched this last night. It seemed a very weird reaction from both of them. No real congratulation or even sense of relief or worry - just on to the next route, or the next thing once the six faces were completed. Tom did once seem a bit annoyed at Jim's questioning before he had even had a chance to put down his sack and did talk about the good feeling of being safe off the back of of the Badile. Really hard to know what to make of it. I just found myself wanting real probing interviews with both of them; it seemed a lot was being held back.

In reply to tcashmore:

> Just to put a different spin on it, what about parents of other 'successful'  children, commitment to drive kids to the swimming competitions all over the country - can't be much fun for example.  What is the difference with Jim supporting his child to be a top climber and belaying him ??  

I think it depends on the line between pushing and supporting. And swimming competitions don't often result in death by drowning.

 Cog 01 Oct 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> If Tom and his Dad started living that slightly peculiar lifestyle when Tom was 14, do you know what Kate did Ramon? Did she leave Scotland too? I don't think I realised Tom was so young when he started climbing basically full time. 

He put up many new routes in the Fort William area around 2005-2008 and bolted all the routes on some new crags.
https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/black_rock_arisaig-21122#overview
https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/ranochan_wall-18756#overview

According to wiki he was born in 1988 and moved to the Alps in 2009.

 tcashmore 01 Oct 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> > Just to put a different spin on it, what about parents of other 'successful'  children, commitment to drive kids to the swimming competitions all over the country - can't be much fun for example.  What is the difference with Jim supporting his child to be a top climber and belaying him ??  

> I think it depends on the line between pushing and supporting. And swimming competitions don't often result in death by drowning.

I’m not sure where you’re going with this argument?  Are you saying any parent that supports their child in a ‘extreme’ sport is wrong because of the perceived risk of death?  It’s ok to be a pushy parent provided it isn’t classed as extreme?  Is belaying on a  sport route in the Dolomites classed as high risk of death

In reply to tcashmore:

> I’m not sure where you’re going with this argument?  Are you saying any parent that supports their child in a ‘extreme’ sport is wrong because of the perceived risk of death?  It’s ok to be a pushy parent provided it isn’t classed as extreme?

I think I'm saying that supportiveness is generally good, but pushiness not so good (though boundaries might be blurred), and that pushiness is probably particularly undesirable when there are high risks. I'd avoid the term "extreme sport" because it is overused and almost meaningless and certainly not necessarily indicative of actual danger.

In reply to Robert Durran:

> I think I'm saying that supportiveness is generally good, but pushiness not so good (though boundaries might be blurred), and that pushiness is probably particularly undesirable when there are high risks. I'd avoid the term "extreme sport" because it is overused and almost meaningless and certainly not necessarily indicative of actual danger.

I think parents who live out things they wished they'd done/been able to do through their kids (such parents commonly found screaming at referees at kids' football matches) are a bad thing generally.  But I do see your point that if that thing gets them killed it's one step further.  But I don't really think this is what happened here - nobody forced him to go soloing (even though that was not where he sadly met his end).

Climbing is a funny one, because indoor top-roping is probably markedly safer than getting in your car and driving to the wall, whereas alpinism can be very dangerous, and there's all sorts in between (and scope to vary within disciplines, e.g. based on how often you place gear when climbing trad and what sort of routes you choose).

Post edited at 16:13
In reply to Neil Williams:

That's a pretty simplistic view, isn't it? Abusive relationships aren't necessarily about overt force. As Robert says above, the line between supportive and pushy can be blurry and almost impossible to define for the people in the relationship, let alone people outside looking in.

In reply to Neil Williams:

> I think parents who live out things they wished they'd done/been able to do through their kids (such parents commonly found screaming at referees at kids' football matches) are a bad thing generally. 

It would be a matter of speculation as to whether this is closer to what might have been going on twice in the Ballard family than the pursuit of fame and money. 

In reply to Neil Williams:

> Climbing is a funny one, because indoor top-roping is probably markedly safer than getting in your car and driving to the wall...

It depends upon how far you drive, but on average I'd put money on this not being true - due to the enormous investment that goes into making cars incredibly safe.

Anecdotal I know, but I know several people who have ended up in hospital due to accidents climbing indoors, and none that I know of who were injured enroute.

In reply to Cog:

I might have got my cronology wrong, apologies. I think met Tom in Kandersteg in 2009 when they were living in a van camp in the Kiental carpark, and I seem to remember they had been out for a while out there, considering the amount he had done already, but I don’t know for how long. I do remember quite well Jim telling us over dinner at our apartment that he had taken Tom out of school at 14 to pursue a climbing career because ‘that’s what he wanted to do’, pretty sure he said something along this lines as we discussed at length with my partner Rob as at the time we thought it was out there (in a good way). But this was a long time ago and could have got totally wrong, so don’t quote me on that. So at what point they left Fort William I don’t know. Kate had been working as a snowboard instructor in Switzerland already, but I don’t know any more than that.  

My wife got to know Tom a bit better a few years later when they travelled to South Korea for the ice world cup with team GB. She said Tom was always a lovely guy to her and seemed pretty chilled and quite sociable. It was a contrasting view from my experience, and it might for the fact that Jim didn’t travel with him for competitions, but this is just my speculation. It could be that he just had grown up more. 

Anyways, it’s such a sad loss, Tom was probably the best alpinist of a British generation, and if he had carry on soloing (rather than partnering with a summit maniac) he’d probably still be with us now and would get to get older and be his own man away from the shadow of his dad. 

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

What's Nigella ever done on grit, or limestone ?

 Maggot 02 Oct 2021
In reply to Ramon Marin:

Anyways, it’s such a sad loss, Tom was probably the best alpinist of a British generation, and if he had carry on soloing (rather than partnering with a summit maniac)

I've been watching climbing  mountains for 50 odd years, and my opinion is if you chose a life in that world it'll have  you In the end,  look at Ule Steck etc al

As his dad said, it's like playing Russian roulette with 3 or 4 bullets I the chamber.

In reply to Ramon Marin:

> (rather than partnering with a summit maniac)

Genuine question — I've heard this mentioned more than once on this thread, but haven't really been able to find anything on the Internet to corroborate it: what evidence is there to suggest that Daniele Nardi was an irresponsible summit maniac? Had he had previous lucky escapes or accidents? Or is this based entirely on this particular accident on Nanga Parbat, with it being his fifth attempt on the route?

Related to that, and unrelated to the original point of the thread: I'm surprised, based on photos, that any sane person would look at the Mummery Spur and fancy it. And I can't believe that they would be able to find other sane and willing partners. Messner's judgement seems accurate.

That said, I suppose you could say that about all manner of improbable and ridiculous ascents the world over.

In reply to tehmarks:

The film definitely doesn't portray Nardi in the best light. It's all I know of him, but the (possibly cherry picked) clips from his social media during the expedition, and his attitude when other team members made the wise decision to bail, make it sound like he wasn't of sound mind. There may be another side to the story, but if the film is all we have to go on "summit maniac" or "fanatic" seems like a good description.

 leon 1 02 Oct 2021
In reply to tehmarks:  Absolutely agree with you on both those points. Messners remarks say it all about that route

Post edited at 11:58
In reply to pancakeandchips:

Incredibly moving film. I watched "Tom" one night and "The Last Mountain" the next, and they have been lingering with me since. I found the most gut-wrenching moment of all was the last, awful, exchange of messages between Tom and Steffy. 

I think we should avoid pointing fingers at anyone based simply on what we have seen in these films. I didn't like the way "The Last Mountain" painted Nardi in a slightly bad light. The only reasonable conclusion we can draw from the Mummery Spur fiasco was that both Daniele and Tom were equally obsessed, to the point of craziness.

 Denning76 02 Oct 2021
In reply to pancakeandchips:

I do think that it portrayed Nardi in a manner which ignored the fact that, whether he was a "summit maniac" or not, Tom took the decision to follow him despite others leaving. No one made that decision for him.

Post edited at 21:33
In reply to Denning76:

He did take that decision, yes; however, the film certainly painted a picture suggesting that there may have been some manipulation applied, and that Tom wasn't the best judge of character. That said, it was mainly his girlfriend making those points, so there could be some level of guilt over the text messages etc. 

​​​

 Offwidth 03 Oct 2021
In reply to John Stainforth:

We don't even know that. Objective dangers have killed top mountaineers on so called safe routes. We are at risk of circling back to Perrin's callous foolishness in lauding some climbers and labeling others. 

 Denning76 03 Oct 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

It's a very thin line. It's a big 'if' of course, but had they been successful Nardi may have been lauded for his resolve, rather than being branded a 'summit maniac'.

 Slackboot 03 Oct 2021
In reply to Denning76:

> It's a very thin line. It's a big 'if' of course, but had they been successful Nardi may have been lauded for his resolve, rather than being branded a 'summit maniac'.

And then he would have been looking for something even harder and more scary.

In reply to tehmarks:

I haven’t actually seen the BBC doc yet so I don’t know in what light Nardi was pictured. This is bordering gossip so I’m not quite sure this is quite ethical to talk about a deceased climber I didn’t actually know personally know, but I do know he had a bit of a reputation in Italy, and that coupled with a few bad choices (route, weather…) makes me think that this time he was going to summit at all costs. That contrasting with Tom, who made many right decisions in his career to stay alive, and summit, in really dangerous conditions makes me think that Nardi led the decision making in this occasion . But as I said this is pure speculation. RIP both of them.

 Rob Parsons 03 Oct 2021
In reply to Ramon Marin:

One thing which hasn't been mentioned yet is that we still don't know the circumstances which led to their deaths. It doesn't appear to have been due either to an avalanche, or a serac fall (which seem to be the two main objective dangers on this route): in the published photos, the bodies are very close to their intact tent.

The whole thing is very sad; this particular aspect seems to remain a puzzle.

In reply to Ramon Marin:

> I haven’t actually seen the BBC doc yet so I don’t know in what light Nardi was pictured. This is bordering gossip so I’m not quite sure this is quite ethical to talk about a deceased climber I didn’t actually know personally know, but I do know he had a bit of a reputation in Italy, and that coupled with a few bad choices (route, weather…) makes me think that this time he was going to summit at all costs.

I think the most telling thing for me on his in the film was Nardi's social media post: "I am not a normal climber......... ". If this is not hubris, I don't know what is; in the end we are all naked before the mountain.

In reply to Offwidth:

> I've got mixed feelings about the film but I can't deny it raises an emotional response that encourages thought on the subject. My background unease is not just the influence of Regions of the Heart: the recent sad death of David Roberts had led me to reread key passages from On the Ridge Between Life and Death, on the subject of risk justification in the high mountains and the emotional costs of loss. 

I've just finished reading Roberts' book. The opening chapters on the death of his first climbing partner and on an ill-fated teenage love affair read as grippingly as any novel and the later meditations on risk ang aging are brilliant. Highly recommended. 

 magma 04 Oct 2021
In reply to Offwidth:

> We don't even know that. Objective dangers have killed top mountaineers on so called safe routes.

seems they were retreating from camp in the dark in a storm when the accident happened. no doubt the route will be attempted again by the fearless/foolish

this Italian docu about Nardin is a good watch for balance and high-altitude footage: youtube.com/watch?v=YzrjpViACPs&

Post edited at 15:46
 magma 04 Oct 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> "I am not a normal climber......... ".

maybe Tom thought that as well?

there's an interesting outburst in the link ^ starting 1hr37 (something about wasting time/protection on easy ground?)

Post edited at 16:19
 David Rose 04 Oct 2021
In reply to ralphio:

In 2010, I wrote this article in the Mail on Sunday:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1293781/Mountaineer-Alison-Hargreaves-perished-trying-conquer-K2--son-plans-climb.html

The film that I referred to was cancelled as a result of the article. It would have been made by the same man who made the Tom Ballard film shown last week, as well as the first documentary after Alison died, when Tom and Kate went some way towards K2 with their father Jim. Tom didn't attempt K2 in winter, either. Maybe the article prolonged his life. 

All this is still so raw and painful. If you've read the book I wrote with Ed Douglas, Regions of the Heart, you will know why I do not much care for this latest film. I do not want to say too much here. But many who have commented on this thread have said they found the film made them uncomfortable. I understand why.  

Post edited at 23:03
 Hardonicus 04 Oct 2021
In reply to David Rose:

Regions of the Heart is on my reading list. I'm interested in how you acquired the diaries?

Post edited at 23:58
In reply to David Rose:

> In 2010, I wrote this article in the Mail on Sunday:

> The film that I referred to was cancelled as a result of the article. It would have been made by the same man who made the Tom Ballard film shown last week, as well as the first documentary after Alison died, when Tom and Kate went some way towards K2 with their father Jim. Tom didn't attempt K2 in winter, either. Maybe the article prolonged his life. 

> All this is still so raw and painful. If you've read the book I wrote with Ed Douglas, Regions of the Heart, you will know why I do not much care for this latest film. I do not want to say too much here. But many who have commented on this thread have said they found the film made them uncomfortable. I understand why.  

Great article not seen it before, glad that someone continues to flag up that domestic control is unacceptable now and in the past and Alison might have been a victim.

In reply to David Rose:

Many thanks for this. 

 SuperstarDJ 05 Oct 2021
In reply to Hardonicus:

> Regions of the Heart is on my reading list. I'm interested in how you acquired the diaries?

There's a post-script in the book that says that they were in the possession of her parents (the 1978 to 1993 years).  The later entries are taken from her books and the book that Ballard wrote.

It's a very good book. Moving and thought provoking. It's made me a little ashamed as to how I'd swallowed the 'irresponsible mother' and 'out of her depth' mountaineer narrative that had been pushed at the time.  She was neither.  It's very calm and measured about her husband but he comes across very very badly and the way he continues to be allowed to control the story and her legacy is shameful. 

Post edited at 10:39
 tonyw 05 Oct 2021
In reply to David Rose:

Have just received a copy of RoTH, having watched The Last Mountain, Tom and various online broadcasts and interviews from/with Daniele, hoping this book may help a little also. I thought The Last Mountain was an extraordinary and compelling film, it had more impact on me than any other climbing documentary I have ever seen, and yet it was very clear there was a lot more going on than it presented, which left me feeling uneasy about all the emotions it provoked. 

 Jamie Wakeham 05 Oct 2021
In reply to David Rose:

Thanks for posting this, David.  I had not seen that article before and it confirmed a lot of what I had presumed from reading between the lines of RotH.  Gods, what a bloody tragedy.

I'm sure I'm not the first to say it, but thank you (and Ed) for RotH.  It's a fantastic piece of writing.

 David Rose 05 Oct 2021
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Thank you. I appreciate your kind words.

We did put a lot about the domestic violence she endured from Jim in the first draft of the book, but we removed it at her parents' request. They were worried about the impact it might have on Tom and Kate when they were young. 

Tom's death was also an absolute tragedy - and an avoidable one. He was a superb climber, but he'd never been on a peak anything like as big as Nanga Parbat, and had no experience of the conditions found there in winter. Why was he there? I can't help thinking it was because he'd turned 30, and felt he had to do something huge and recognisable outside the climbing world to equal his mother's legacy. I just hope no one was encouraging that lethal ambition.  

In reply to David Rose:

In reality 6 north faces in winter and his rock climbing eclipses what Alison achieved. Many high grade alpinists graduate to 8000m mountains for a first visit, even in winter. It was only a matter of time for Tom, but he was convinced by an older man obsessed and with summit fever to attempt a suicide line and his time was cut short. Nowadays  30 is no age for mountaineers and by mountaineers I don’t mean the bucket list prusiking hobbits.

 Speed Reed 06 Oct 2021
In reply to David Rose:

Good grief...sat watching this film "The Last Mountain" and unbeknownst to me (and I am sure countless others )lies a back story which is as sad and as least as depressing as watching the film. I did find Jim's reaction and behaviour slightly unusual but at the same time who am I to judge what someone says or behaves especially in light of the tragedies he has experienced. The problem with forums is that anything can be said and unlike the spoken word the written word can  and often remain no matter how true or false it may be. The most uncomfortable aspect out of the whole what ever you may call it is that if Kate happens to venture onto forums where such terrible things are being said whether true or untrue could be very painful for her.Obviously Kate deserves to know the truth but I wonder what sense or purpose does the truth in this case serve except possibly causing more pain and suffering. It could cause her harm and I realise that perhaps the intention is not to harm Kate but how can that be avoided or managed?

I can now see why watching the film would make those who have knowledge of the "back story " uncomfortable but I must admit we sat down to watch a film about a climber following in his mum's tragic footsteps and found ourselves utterly engrossed and captivated watching as much emotive film that you could imagine not knowing that behind the tragedies were even more tragedies.

The whole thing seems bloody awful apart from at the end of the film there seemed to be happiness and love between Kate and Jim and I think that no matter what went before perhaps should be and as some people say about the past should be left in the past. Perhaps this is a naive way of looking at things.

 Denning76 06 Oct 2021
In reply to Speed Reed:

> The whole thing seems bloody awful apart from at the end of the film there seemed to be happiness and love between Kate and Jim and I think that no matter what went before perhaps should be and as some people say about the past should be left in the past. Perhaps this is a naive way of looking at things.

I feel like this could be arguable had a film on the matter not just been released. Considering that this film is the thing bringing up the past, and people feel like it does so in a way that whitewashes over the less savoury bits to make the father look better in the eyes of the public, I do think it right for attention to be drawn to the issues the film seeks to avoid.

> The problem with forums is that anything can be said and unlike the spoken word the written word can  and often remain no matter how true or false it may be.

The exact same could be said about the film's portrayal of Nardi.

Post edited at 23:34
In reply to Speed Reed:

> I can now see why watching the film would make those who have knowledge of the "back story " uncomfortable 

I had no idea of the back story and the film made me very uncomfortable.

>  The most uncomfortable aspect out of the whole what ever you may call it is that if Kate happens to venture onto forums where such terrible things are being said whether true or untrue could be very painful for her.

The most uncomfortable aspect out of the whole what ever you may call it, in my humble opinion of course, is that Chris Terrill thought it appropriate to make the film at all and bring into the public eye very private grief and very private emotions for the benefit of the entertainment of the world. And in doing so, that he thought it appropriate to slight the dead, who are no longer here to comment or defend themselves, for the benefit of a storyline. Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but showing their accident site and final resting place, from no matter how afar, particularly offended me.

The fact that I can go and read a Guardian review of it, written dispassionately by and for people who just don't 'get it'* as if it's just another Hollywood action film, deeply saddens me. It's not a historic incident of historic interest — we're not talking about Mallory or Irvine — it's a very recent event with very recently living and breathing people, and loved ones who are very much still living and breathing themselves. The entire film, spectacular as it may be, seems to be in incredibly bad taste to me.

 Señor Últi 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Speed Reed:

> The whole thing seems bloody awful apart from at the end of the film there seemed to be happiness and love between Kate and Jim and I think that no matter what went before perhaps should be and as some people say about the past should be left in the past. Perhaps this is a naive way of looking at things.

The end made me feel uncomfortable, Kate's assertion that since in her eyes her mother and brother were both exceptional in their ways, that that meant she has to be too - accompanied by the paragliding scene which though very mellow looking presumably carries similar risks and  consequences as alpinism.

I watched it thinking why do you need to excel as they did in risky sports which though not explicit was the implication. I mean it's not like anyone gives a toss really how strangers choose to live their lives, so possibly  that pressure is coming from within her or within what remains of her family, which might have seemed a stretch were it not for this thread. I found the whole film disturbing and sad really and struggle to see how the film maker continued with the project. 

Post edited at 08:39
 Denning76 07 Oct 2021
In reply to tehmarks

> The fact that I can go and read a Guardian review of it, written dispassionately by and for people who just don't 'get it'* as if it's just another Hollywood action film, deeply saddens me. 

Had the displeasure of reading the many nasty comments under that article by ignorant people. If anything it's them that I hope Kate would not see.

 artif 07 Oct 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

> The most uncomfortable aspect out of the whole what ever you may call it, in my humble opinion of course, is that Chris Terrill thought it appropriate to make the film at all and bring into the public eye very private grief and very private emotions for the benefit of the entertainment of the world. And in doing so, that he thought it appropriate to slight the dead, who are no longer here to comment or defend themselves, for the benefit of a storyline. Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but showing their accident site and final resting place, from no matter how afar, particularly offended me.

But you still chose to watch it. 

Personally, I found it interesting and reading the comments here filling in some of the alleged motivations of the people involved also interesting. Coercive relationships are very difficult to deal with, would Alison or Tom achieved what they did with out it?

I could certainly understand the phone call section, possibly he had already accepted the loss or was still hoping for a better outcome.  Getting all emotional while dealing with a already distraught daughter on the phone in front of a camera, wouldn't have helped at all.

But I'm not a very empathetic person.

 Rob Parsons 07 Oct 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

> The fact that I can go and read a Guardian review of it, written dispassionately by and for people who just don't 'get it'* as if it's just another Hollywood action film, deeply saddens me.

'Get' what? And what makes your personal opinions on it any more significant than all the other proles who just 'don't get it'?

 profitofdoom 07 Oct 2021
In reply to ralphio:

> This was on last night if anyone missed it.

Thanks. I didn't like 2 things about the documentary, [1] showing the bodies (very unpleasant* and unnecessary, also very upsetting to family and friends of the 2 who died [who may well watch it - and also read this thread]), [2] saying negative things about Nardi, who cannot respond to the allegations (also very upsetting to Nardi's family and friends, who may well may well watch it, and also read this thread)

*Think how you would feel if your family or friend's body was shown in media

In reply to artif:

> But you still chose to watch it. 

I'm not psychic; I can't possibly know the content of a film before I watch it. Contrast with 'Tom', which is an entirely uncontroversial, sensitively-directed and fantastic. Without watching, how do I know whether it will fall into the category of 'superb and sensitive' or 'crass and unethical'?

> Personally, I found it interesting

It is undoubtedly interesting — but I don't personally think that 'interest' is a strong enough justification for producing something that, being generous, flirts so heavily with the undrawn line.

> Getting all emotional while dealing with a already distraught daughter on the phone in front of a camera, wouldn't have helped at all.

My question is, should a camera have been there at all? Should the footage of a very intimate and tragic moment have been used in a documentary aired on national television? Should photos of bodies of people who were engaged in a very personal activity* be broadcast on national television? Should controversy be created around someone who can't reply? Just to create drama to engage an audience?

It's technically brilliant — the pan and zoom into the newspaper photo as the conversation plays out, for example, is brilliant, and brutal — but it's all just wrong. It should never have made it to national broadcast. To me, it — the whole thing — is utterly disrespectful.

> I could certainly understand the phone call section, possibly he had already accepted the loss or was still hoping for a better outcome.  

I'm not here to judge any of the people involved; I don't think my personal opinions are at all relevant, fully informed or valid, so I will keep them to myself.

They're not really questions and points to you, sorry, they are the moral issues I have with it.

* - I appreciate that when one flirts with publicity, one opens themselves up to unintended sorts of publicity as well as the expected, but for all intents and purposes I think we can all agree that climbing a big Himalayan mountain in winter is, in that moment, a fully private experience.

In reply to profitofdoom:

With regard to comments about Nardi, i think the film was quite reserved compared to what Simone Moro, amongst others has said in public.

Whilst it is a sad story, particularly for the families i think we can quite easily take Moro's comments at face value given his CV, especially since he is not alone in his views. So i don't think the film overstepped it at all.

 Rob Parsons 07 Oct 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

> Thanks. I didn't like 2 things about the documentary, [1] showing the bodies ...

FWIW those (apparently deliberately blurred) images are already very much in the public domain. The photos were tweeted at the time by the Italian ambassador, for example.

In reply to Rob Parsons:

Have you read, for example, the public comments on the various newspaper reviews? You can't seriously tell me, having had a read through, that you don't understand the point I'm making.

Here's a selection:

What strange creatures humans are. Some people fighting and striving to simply survive, to live, because of war or hunger or violence or natural disasters. Other people spending amazing amounts of time and money to do something largely worthless and practically throwing their lives away. Strange.

Yes, it is totally bizarre. What are they running away from? What are they trying to prove?

What a bunch of crackhead weirdos

The father, Jim Ballard, should have put a stop to mountaineering after wife Alison's death. It was shocking that he allowed/encouraged his son to walk the same path knowing that you cannot guarantee safety in the mountains.

No mother with a four year old daughter should have left their child to climb K2 - totally irresponsible and selfish, however anyone wants to spin it.

And they're taken from some of the 'more respectable' papers. Imagine what the average Daily Mail readership might make of it.

Airing this opened someone who can't reply — and one of our most talented young alpinists — to the court of ill-informed public opinion. What makes my opinion (or yours, or anyone here) more significant? Well, I'd like to think that we all have an understanding of what motivates people to go and seek adventure, and do great things, in the big mountains. We're hardly likely to judge people as 'crackhead weirdos' for attempting hard and dangerous things, and any discussion will be informed by an understanding of the games we play and the motivations behind playing them.

I don't understand why it wouldn't upset you, to be entirely honest.

In reply to Rob Parsons:

> FWIW those (apparently deliberately blurred) images are already very much in the public domain. The photos were tweeted at the time by the Italian ambassador, for example.

Does that make it right?

 slug 07 Oct 2021
In reply to artif:

> Personally, I found it interesting and reading the comments here filling in some of the alleged motivations of the people involved also interesting. Coercive relationships are very difficult to deal with, would Alison or Tom achieved what they did with out it?

Are you trying to justify abusive behaviour? Might Alison and Tom have achieved more, over longer lifetimes, without it?

In reply to LG-Mark:

My personal opinion, for what little it's worth, is that they went and they climbed as a team. Tom chose willingly to place himself in that environment with that person, and we aren't party to the internal team dynamic or any of the conversations or decisions they made. Criticise the team, not the individuals. Anything else is based purely on speculation and isn't fair.

 artif 07 Oct 2021
In reply to slug:

> Are you trying to justify abusive behaviour? Might Alison and Tom have achieved more, over longer lifetimes, without it?

Not even slightly trying to justify it, but without a coercive influence would they have been as driven to do what they did.

For the record, I've seen the destruction of abusive and coercive relationships far too closely on more than one occasion.

 Dogwatch 07 Oct 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

>I think we can all agree that climbing a big Himalayan mountain in winter is, in that moment, a fully private experience.

Yes if you just go climbing because you love it. When, however, part of the objective is generating media coverage for your sponsors, it can no longer be a private experience and that is how both Alison and Tom aimed to fund their adventures and make their living.

Similarly, presumably Jim, Kate and Chris Terrill intended to make money by selling their film to broadcasters. They weren't just walking in the Karakoram when a film crew happened by, the film was a planned, collaborative project. 

I'm not saying anything is wrong with any of that, just pointing out that choices people make when money is involved and the aspects of their lives they choose to present, may not be those they might make otherwise. 

I'm not therefore uncomfortable that the participants revealed too much of themselves. I am uncomfortable with how the film squares with what we know from Regions of the Heart, or at least think we know. And I'm more uncomfortable with that book, in using diary content which there is no reason to believe Alison intended to make public, even if her parents chose to make them available to the authors.

But did I read the book and watch the film? Yes I did. Am I then complicit? I guess so.

In reply to Dogwatch:

> Yes if you just go climbing because you love it. When, however, part of the objective is generating media coverage for your sponsors, it can no longer be a private experience and that is how both Alison and Tom aimed to fund their adventures and make their living.

But I'm not sure that extends to images of one's lifeless body being shown to the world, however much you have flirted with the media while alive.

 Dogwatch 07 Oct 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

> But I'm not sure that extends to images of one's lifeless body being shown to the world, however much you have flirted with the media while alive.

No. I'm not sure of that either. 

Post edited at 12:42
 Rob Parsons 07 Oct 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

> But I'm not sure that extends to images of one's lifeless body being shown to the world ...


For the record, the Italian ambassador (who tweeted the deliberately blurred photo at the end of the rescue effort) has stated that "All communications until the last one, including posting the foto, has been done in strict and close coordination with the family."

See https://twitter.com/pontecorvoste/status/1104370951406407680

 slug 07 Oct 2021
In reply to artif:

They probably would not have been driven to do what they did, in the way they did it, but would this have mattered? They might have achieved more in the long run, if they had not done what they did. Or they might have had happy fulfilled lives doing something else.

Post edited at 14:19
 slug 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Speed Reed:

> The whole thing seems bloody awful apart from at the end of the film there seemed to be happiness and love between Kate and Jim and I think that no matter what went before perhaps should be and as some people say about the past should be left in the past. Perhaps this is a naive way of looking at things.

Ballard seems happy to continue giving his version of the past: Hargreaves and her son can not.

In reply to Rob Parsons:

I just happened to read this https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/life/journey-himalayas-retrace-brother-tom-ballards-final-steps/ earlier - came up in my Google news feed. In it Kate Ballard says how difficult and hurtful that meeting with the Italian ambassador was. Somewhere way above I tried to think of reasons that might explain what he said and how he did, but clearly no matter why, Kate still found it very hurtful.

There are a fair few things she says in the article that shine a different light (I'm not saying the only light though) on some of the things discussed in this thread. 

In reply to TobyA:

I'm not surprised she found it hurtful - the guy was a complete arsehole. It's all very good trying to see things from his point of view but ultimately he just seemed to have no empathy whatsoever at a time which must have been incredibly hard for her.

 Jamie Wakeham 07 Oct 2021
In reply to TobyA:

Can you quote the critical parts? It's behind a paywall.

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Sorry, I can't anymore, it let me read the whole article when I clicked on it first, but not anymore. And I'm not giving the Torygraph any actual money!

In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Open it in an incognito tab and/or hit escape as the page is loading, and that should see you past the paywall.

In reply to TobyA:

That was really insightful, thanks for posting.

 David Rose 08 Oct 2021
In reply to Dogwatch:

In the last two years of her life, Alison shared a lot about what she'd been through with close friends and family, both in conversations and in letters. It's also a fact that she had seen a divorce lawyer before setting off for K2. You say our use of her diaries, and indeed those conversations, made you uncomfortable because there's no reason to think she wanted any of this made public. I respectfully disagree. Remember, we wrote that book in the wake of Chris Terrill's first film, One and Two Halves to K2, which contained no hint of any of this. Those who loved her felt there was a great danger that her true story would never be known, which is why they helped us. I met Alison before her death more than once, and Ed knew her pretty well. Given all the above, I honestly believe she would have wanted us to tell the story, and use those diaries. And the more we researched her life, the better we got to know her.

What I'm going to say now risks making me seem ridiculous. But all through that intense project, I sort of felt her presence, as if she was guiding our work. I remember especially two occasions: once a day when I went to Harborough Rocks, where she went bouldering again and again. It was totally uncanny: I was on my own, on a somewhat bleak spring day, and it was as if she were beside me. I "heard" her voice inside my head. Another was even weirder. I'd been trying to track someone down who knew her well and getting nowhere - this was when the internet was in its infancy. One day I was on a tube train in London. I looked up, and there this person was, right in front of me. 

I'm not really a believer in the supernatural. But I'm not making this up. 

In reply to David Rose:

> What I'm going to say now risks making me seem ridiculous. But all through that intense project, I sort of felt her presence, as if she was guiding our work. I remember especially two occasions: once a day when I went to Harborough Rocks, where she went bouldering again and again. It was totally uncanny: I was on my own, on a somewhat bleak spring day, and it was as if she were beside me. I "heard" her voice inside my head. Another was even weirder. I'd been trying to track someone down who knew her well and getting nowhere - this was when the internet was in its infancy. One day I was on a tube train in London. I looked up, and there this person was, right in front of me. 

> I'm not really a believer in the supernatural. But I'm not making this up. 

Same sensation at Stanage, radio on Madonna - This Used to Be My Playground.

Didn't know the song before but it does fit Alison rather well.

Like you "I'm not really a believer in the supernatural. But I'm not making this up"

Post edited at 10:21
 Dogwatch 08 Oct 2021
In reply to David Rose:

> In the last two years of her life, Alison shared a lot about what she'd been through with close friends and family, both in conversations and in letters. It's also a fact that she had seen a divorce lawyer before setting off for K2. You say our use of her diaries, and indeed those conversations, made you uncomfortable because there's no reason to think she wanted any of this made public. I respectfully disagree.

Thank you for that. Sharing with close friends and family isn't the same as making your diaries public. I'm not sure we are going to agree but I respect your views.

> I'm not really a believer in the supernatural. But I'm not making this up. 

I'm very much of a scientific disposition but have had one strange experience in my life. I had a long and vivid dream about a musician who had disappeared from public life 20 years before. I liked her work at one time but hadn't thought about her in at least a decade. When I looked at the paper in the morning, she had died the day before. I don't live somewhere where, for instance, I'd hear someone else's TV news and I find it hard to believe it was pure chance. 

 profitofdoom 08 Oct 2021
In reply to David Rose:

Great story about "feeling her presence", David. 

I know (as you said) that you're not making it up 

In reply to Dogwatch:

> I don't live somewhere where, for instance, I'd hear someone else's TV news and I find it hard to believe it was pure chance. 

Coincidences happen and we notice them. Usually they don't happen and we don't notice they haven't happened (obviously). A lot of things happen over a person's life and there are bound to be occasional coincidences. And a few people will have big coincidences. Saying it couldn't be chance is like saying a lottery win couldn't be chance.

 Dogwatch 08 Oct 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

I didn't say it couldn't be chance. I said I found that hard to believe. Not the same thing.

 Mick Ward 08 Oct 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Coincidences happen and we notice them. Usually they don't happen and we don't notice they haven't happened (obviously). A lot of things happen over a person's life and there are bound to be occasional coincidences. And a few people will have big coincidences. Saying it couldn't be chance is like saying a lottery win couldn't be chance.

Totally accept the argument, Robert. Yes, we notice coincidences. But... there are strange coincidences, really strange ones and I've learned to heed them.

Les Holliwell reckoned that he was a total sceptic about anything supernatural. But he also said that he had a very sharp, intense feeling that his brother, Lawrie, had died at exactly the time he did. He had no explanation.

 I think it was really brave of David to say what he did. It's entirely up to each of us as to how seriously we take such 'information' (obviously no proof either way).

What a terribly sad business. In my mind's eye, there's a snapshot of a very young (17, 18?) Alison Hargreaves, at the old Leeds uni wall, brimming with life, with promise...

Mick

In reply to Dogwatch:

> I didn't say it couldn't be chance. I said I found that hard to believe. Not the same thing.

Fair point. But I hope that I would be rational enough not to find it hard. 

In reply to Mick Ward:

> It's entirely up to each of us as to how seriously we take such 'information' (obviously no proof either way).

Just like astrology.........


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