While going through old files, I came across a newspaper article I clipped from the Meridian Star dated October 13, 1985. Thirty years ago, almost to the day, the events have a lot to say to us in light of current political realities. The transcript of the article follows:
Americans back from mountain-top summit with Soviets
WASHINGTON (AP) – William Garner and Randy Starrett, back from their own summit with the Soviets, may have a useful lesson for Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, one they learned on the windswept peak of a 24,406 foot mountain in Soviet Central Asia last summer.
It is the same message the two young Washington area residents left atop Pik Pobedy – or “victory peak” – the Soviet Union’s second highest mountain which they conquered August 22nd along with an American movie cameraman, David Breashears, and a dozen of the Soviet Union’s most skillful alpine climbers.
On a piece of paper, sealed in plastic and left inside a World War II Soviet artillery shell casing hauled to the summit, the two Americans wrote in English and Russian:
“We, the American team on the first joint Soviet-American expedition up Pik Pobedy, have climbed this mountain to illustrate for the people of our two countries how much greater value there is an our learning to take risks together, then in our continuing to put the world at risk through mutual confrontation.”
Perhaps mindful of the scheduled November 19-20 summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev in Geneva, Switzerland, the Soviet climbing leader put it another way during a celebratory exchange of vodka and champagne toast on their return from the peak.
As Starrett recalls, one of his Soviet comrades said that “if the world’s leaders were alpinists and could come together in the mountains, the world’s problems would vanish.”
The harrowing, nine-day climb made Soviet heroes of Garner, 36, an independent consultant and Soviet affairs analyst here, and Starrett, 43, a trial lawyer from suburban Fairfax County, Virginia.