Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage
Hermann Buhl’s momentous ascent of Nanga Parbat in 1953 (after Everest and Annapurna, the third 8000-metre 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, and the human spirit was invariably the critical factor. Determined, well-trained climbers, charged with both humility and cautious judgment and supporting each other as a team, were the key elements. 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.
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. His influence has thus been profound. This is one of the great mountaineering classics which now features an appendix on the Broad Peak and Chogolisa climbs.
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