Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage is a classic of mountaineering literature that has inspired thousands of climbers. In it, Hermann Buhlrecords his 1953 solo first ascent of Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest mountain in the world, and the third 8,000-metre peak to be climbed, following Annapurna and Everest. It was one of the most incredible climbs ever made.
'Me not belong in the mountains? Why, I couldn't go on living without them! My thoughts, my dreams, my whole life were nothing but the mountains!' In 1953 Hermann Buhl made the first ascent of Nanga Parbat - the ninth-highest mountain in the world, and the third 8,000-metre peak to be climbed, following Annapurna and Everest. It was one of the most incredible and committed climbs ever made. Continuing alone and without supplementary oxygen, Buhl made a dash for the summit after his partners turned back. On a mountain that had claimed thirty-one lives, an exhausted Buhl waded through deep snow and climbed over technical ground to reach the summit, driven on by an 'irresistible urge'. After a night spent standing on a small ledge at over 8,000 metres, Buhl returned forty-one hours later, exhausted and at the very limit of his endurance. Written shortly after Buhl's return from the mountain, Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage is a classic of mountaineering literature that has inspired thousands of climbers. It follows Buhl's inexorable rise from rock climber to alpinist to mountaineer, until, almost inevitably, he makes his phenomenal Nanga Parbat climb. Buhl's book, and ascent, reminded everyone that, while the mountains could never be conquered, they could be climbed with sufficient enthusiasm, spirit and dedication.
For many, Hermann Buhl is one of the greatest climbers of all time. Born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1924, he was a frail child and not encouraged to climb but, driven by enthusiasm and determination, he did so anyway. He became one of the best rock climbers in Austria, and then one of the best mountaineers, before serving in the Second World War where he was captured while stationed with the alpine troops. Following the war, he turned his attention to the Western Alps with impressive results, making a series of remarkable climbs, often solo and frequently in appalling conditions. As his experiences and abilities grew - Buhl was to qualify as a mountain guide - it was inevitable that he would turn to the greater ranges. In 1953, on his first expedition, Buhl made the first ascent of Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest mountain in the world. Climbing alone and without supplementary oxygen, he made a highly committing dash for the summit. When, in 1957, he made the first ascent of Broad Peak, again without oxygen or support from porters, he became the first man to make two first ascents of 8,000-metre peaks. Buhl was killed only a few weeks later while descending from an attempt on nearby Chogolisa.
Ken Wilson was editor of Mountain magazine from 1969 until 1978 and owner of the outdoor publishing company Diadem from 1978 until 1989, when it was incorporated into Hodder. In 1993 Hodder downsized, and Ken set up the publishing house Bâton Wicks. He has been publisher and author of many of the most important and famed outdoor books in the British climbing world, including the ‘Hard Rock’ series: The Games Climbers Play, The Black Cliff, Cold Climbs, Wild, Classic and Big Walks,and others including, Argonauts of the Western Isles, Canoeing across Canada, and Run River Run. Ken is a member of the Climbers' Club, for which he edited the journal in 1976, and is intimately involved with the BMC, both as a volunteer and a critic. He is an Alpine Club member and an Honorary Member of the BMC.
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