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Item #: OP1765C-3692
LONELY CHALLENGE [NANGA PARBAT PILGRIMAGE] Hermann Buhl 1956 1st US ed Hardcover DJ Fine 2 copies available
By Buhl, Hermann
Price: $39.95

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New York, Dutton, 1956, 1st edition. 360 pp, 17 b/w plates. Hardcover with dust jacket.  Book and DJ are Fine.

Buhl was one of the strongest and most successful Alpine climbers, achieving the first ascent of Nanga Parbat solo and without oxygen; he then spent the night out alone without a sleeping bag. One of the classics of the literature. He died while descending from Chogolisa with Diemberger.  

Hugh Merrick, who has translated this book from the German, introduces "this incomparable story of mountaineering skill, courage and hazardous achievement" by the man who conquered Nanga Parbat alone and whose life was a preparation for this incredible adventure. When on July 4th 1953, Hermann Buhl returned to camp at 23,000 feet from a successful solitary attempt on Nanga Parbat's 26,660 foot summit, he set the seal on what must almost certainly remain the outstanding achievement by a single human being in the long and yet unfinished history of mountaineering.

The remarkable photograph taken of this good-looking young climber of 29 directly after his return, shows the face of an old, old man, haggard, drawn and deeply-scored by the ravages of that unparalleled ordeal. Only a short but unique section at the end of this book deals with that final triumph on Nanga Parbat. The rest is Hermann Buhl's climbing history from his days as a weakling among school mates and a poor man's son, when an irresistible inner urge first drove him to become a frail and youthful climber, making straight from the start for difficult rock in his beloved homeland hills.

HERMANN BUHL'S momentous ascent of Nanga Parbat in 1953 (after Everest and Annapurna, the third 8000m peak to be climbed) set an agenda for adventurous mountaineers for the rest of the century. The pre-war and post-war mood was for ''conquering'' the major peaks with large, nationalistically-charged expeditions. Buhl, though also a member of a large expedition, with his long and committing solo summit push and painfully slow descent, reminded everyone that mountains could never be conquered - under favourable conditions they might be climbed, but the human spirit was invariably the critical factor. Determined, well-trained climbers, charged with both humility and cautious judgement and supporting each other as a team, were the key elements. A few years later Buhl, with just three others (Schmuck, Wintersteller and Diemberger), made the first ascent of Broad Peak, thus proving that the highest mountains could be climbed in a more frugal and sporting manner.

Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage, published after his historic first ascent, fired the imagination of a generation of climbers. His adventures on alpine and dolomite climbs were related with such passion and enthusiasm that it proved irresistibly inspiring. The account of the harrowing summit climb to Nanga Parbat still thrills with its single-minded commitment and total loneliness.

Since then, progressive mountaineers - Hornbein, Unsoeld, Messner, Habeler, Scott, Tasker, Boardman, Maclntyre, Kukuczka, Kurtyka, Roskelley, Beghin, Loretan, Troillet, Stremfelj and others - have reflected Buhl's example. His influence has thus been profound.

Buhl played no further part in the exciting mountaineering scene he had initiated. After Broad Peak, while attempting Chogolisa, he died in a cornice accident. This book and the vivid memory of his climbs is a lasting reminder of a climbing icon whose example (like that of Mummery, Preuss, and Cassin) resonates through the ages, inspiring climbers to this day.

Hermann Buhl (September 21, 1924 - June 27, 1957) is considered one of the best post-war Austrian climbers and one of the best climbers of all time. His accomplishments include:1953 First ascent of Nanga Parbat, 8,125 metres (26,658 ft.) 1957 First ascent of Broad Peak, 8,047 metres (26,400 ft.) Before his successful Nanga Parbat expedition, 31 people had already died trying to make the first ascent. Buhl is the only mountaineer to have made the first ascent of an Eight-thousander solo. Just a few weeks after their success on Broad Peak, Buhl and Kurt Diemberger attempted nearby Chogolisa peak (7,654 metres). Buhl died when he fell through a cornice on the SE ridge near the summit of Chogolisa. His body has never been found.


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