The life of extreme mountaineer Reinhold Messer has always been a “life on the edge”. And it is probably no coincidence that he chose the title of his autobiography, published in September 2004, with precisely these words. And the only limit the 77-year-old ever accepted was what his body and his nature imposed on him. And maybe in hindsight he’s been lucky that there aren’t more than 14 eight thousand in this world – given the deadly dangers lurking beyond the “death zone.” “of 8,000 meters.
But Messner has conquered them all again: on October 16, 1986, exactly 35 years ago, he and his compatriot Hans Kammerlander set foot on the 8,516-meter-high Lhotse summit in Nepal, making history. The South Tyrolean not only completed his private list of eight thousand, but the success of 1986 also made him the first person to climb the 14 eight thousand in the world, and that without bottled oxygen.
After his return from the Himalayas, Messner was celebrated with frenzy in his homeland. Reports on the hitherto unique success on South Tyrol regional television reached dream rates of almost 100 percent. In total, it took Messner 16 years to climb the 14 tallest mountains in the world. What began in 1970 with the tragic expedition to the Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, in which Messner lost his vertically ill brother Günther, ended in the triumph on the Lhotse.
It wasn’t like the extreme mountaineer started out without any competition back then. What was still seen in the 1970s as a series of individual hits quickly turned into an “eight thousand collection” and a competition for a title that had not been announced at all. Messner’s “rivals” included Jerzey Kukuczka from Slovakia and Erhard Loretan from Switzerland. They reached their 14th peak in 1987 and 1995, respectively.
On the women’s side, South Korean Oh Eun Sun won the title, but her 2010 record is controversial after using helicopters for travel, sherpas, foresight and bottled oxygen. For this reason, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner from Upper Austria is considered the first to climb the eight thousand.
Without help on Everest
For Messner himself, the triumph in this 8,000 rally was not the only milestone. In 1978 he succeeded – along with Zillertal resident Peter Habeler – the first ascent of Mount Everest without the use of bottled oxygen, and in the same year he reported the first solo ascent of an eight thousand ever on the Nanga Parbat. . In addition, Messner was not only looking for his personal “limit” in altitude, but also in the effort of plain. In 1989/90, he crossed Antarctica on an expedition, three years later Greenland and in 2004 the Gobi.
However, Messner has attracted attention not only with recordings, but also with irritating reports – for example on the Yetis – and provocations, with which he has turned many “mountain friends” against himself. His achievements are still unmatched to this day, and they are sometimes found in art. Cabaret artist Josef Hader said years ago: “Imma weitta auffi, like Reinhold Messna. It is not known if Messner shares this attribution.
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