The icy world of the 8000-metre peaks - between myth, commercialism, and international top-level alpinism.
While some of the world's highest mountains have now become accessible for the amateur climber, a handful of alpinists still find new ground on them for pioneering feats at the absolute limit. This book is a gripping account of the climbing history of the 14 8000-metre-peaks and documents for the first time the highlights and developments during the first decade of the 21st century - to this day.
The book is the expanded and updated German edition of Richard Sale's groundbreaking work On Top of the World: The New Millennium - the unique and new standard history of the world's highest peaks.
Historically well-founded: Overview of the complete history of all the 8000-metre peaks and the true stories of the first ascents
Up-to-date and rich in detail: The international climbing highlights of the 21st century - all new routes and variations, all first winter ascents and attempts
Investigative and controversial: The most famous controversies and debates of high-altitude climbing - from the mystery of Mallory & Irvine to the issue of doping
Lavishly illustrated: Vistas of all the 8000-metre peaks from every side, and the best pictures from international climbs and expeditions
Jochen Hemmleb: Editor and translator for the German edition
Dr. Richard Sale: Physicist and author of over 60 books about polar exploration and alpinism, including On Top of the World, the history of the 8000-metre peaks up to the year 2000; Broad Peak, a comprehensive revision of the story of the first ascent in 1957; and The Challenge of K2, the complete history of the "mountain of mountains". Sale has won several literature awards, including the US Wildlife Book of the Year, and his books have regularly been shortlisted for the British Boardman & Tasker Award and the Canadian Banff International Mountain Literature Award.
Dr. George Rodway: High-altitude physiologist and lecturer at the University of Utah, USA. As a mountaineer, Rodway took part in several expeditions to the Himalaya and in North America. He published several articles on high-altitude medical research and its history, and he is co-author of Prelude to Everest, the biography of Scottish Himalayan pioneer Dr. Alexander M. Kellas, as well as editor and translator of George Finch's The Struggle for Everest. Together with Richard Sale he published Everest & Conquest in the Himalaya, a history of Himalayan climbing and the development of high-altitude physiology.
Eberhard Jurgalski: Chronicler of the high mountain ranges of Asia since 1981. After working with Anders Bolinder and Xavier Eguskitza, Jurgalski has now teamed up with Liz Hawley and Richard Salisbury, the founders of the world-renowned Himalayan Database. Jurgalski's database also included the mountains of the Karakoram. In addition, Jurgalski has developed the system of "elevation equality", a universal method to classify and distinguish mountains worldwide through their orometrical prominence and dominance. Jurgalski's website http://www.8000ers.com is currently the leading source for climbing statistics of the Himalaya and Karakoram.
When it came to climbing the highest summits of the world, Austrian climbers had been at the forefront from the beginning. After the Second World War they made five first ascents of 8000-metre peaks - as many as no other nation: Nanga Parbat, Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak und Dhaulagiri. Hermann Buhl became the first person to make first ascents of two of the world's highest mountains.
Austrians were also among the leading new pioneers of the 1970s and 1980s: Peter Habeler set two milestones of high-altitude climbing with the first alpine-style ascent of an Eight-thousander and the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen.
Up until now Austrian alpinists leave their marks on the highest peaks: In 2011, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner became the first woman to climb all fourteen Eight-thousanders without bottled oxygen.
In 28 stories "Austria 8000" paints a comprehensive and multi-facetted picture of the Austrian accomplishments on the world's highest mountains through compelling stories, insightful portraits and personal interviews. Includes a table of all Austrian summitteers of 8000-metre peaks compiled by renowned mountaineering statistician Eberhard Jurgalski.
Available since January from http://www.tyrolia.at, http://www.amazon.de and bookstores.
Our documentary "Petit Dru - Der zerfallene Berg" (Petit Dru - The disintegrating Mountain) from the series "The Six Great North Faces of the Alps" (Servus TV, Austria) has been awarded the KAMERA ALPIN in Gold for the best Alpine Documentary at the prestigeous 24th International Mountain + Adventure Film Festival at Graz, Austria.
Producer: Gerald Salmina, Director: Tom Dauer, Script & Research: Jochen Hemmleb, Camera: Günther Göberl
On November 26th 2011, after watching the thirty three movies of the competition program, the members of the jury of the 11th International Mountain Film Festival in Bansko decided:
1. Grand Prix For the movie „First on Everest” by Gerald Salmina (Austria).
- the documentary about the Austro-German search for Andrew Irvine in 2010.
With this year's "The Sherpas' Quest" project, a documentary film reflecting on the history and development of the Himalayan high-altitude porters, my (sometimes very public) involvement in Everest history ends for the time being, although I can envision another few "Everest years" to come in a decade or so.
The new expedition I am embarking on will be even more challenging, full of surprises and discoveries, and ultimately even more rewarding.
"Expedition Family" will start in the first week of October.
Some of you readers have already noted the new Mallory & Irvine segment on my webpage. It is neither long nor colorful - not the fizzy pink alco-pop drunk for distraction, but rather the distilled single malt tasted for essence.
I felt it necessary to write it this way, because there remains one essential fact in the Mallory case: What we actually KNOW is very little.
Which leads to the point of how the scant facts are dealt with. While it is interesting to read what certain researchers think right or wrong, and why, what it actually adds to the EVIDENCE is often a very different matter. Also, what comes disguised as well-informed criticism is often just personal opinion. And abuse between researchers is only revealing about themselves, worthless to the collective progress in the case. But perhaps it's just a language problem which can be answered appropriately: Only facts and constructive criticism matters - f**k the rest ...
My attitude to criticism is best expressed in a quote from one of my favorite movies:
In many ways the work of a critic is easy.
We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those
who offer up their work and their selves to our judgement.
We thrive on negative criticism,
which is fun to write and to read.
But, the bitter truth we critics must face
is that, in the grand scheme of things...
the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful
than our criticism designating it so.
(a free glass of single malt for who guesses that one right ... :-)
The new feature-length (91 min) documentary about Mallory & Irvine.
Edmund Hillary was the first to reach the top of Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain, in 1953. Or so history books tell us. But German researcher Jochen Hemmleb has his doubts. In 1999, he and his team discovered the well-preserved body of George Mallory below the summit of Everest, who attempted to climb the mountain together with his partner, Andrew Irvine, back in 1924. Did Mallory reach the summit 29 years ahead of Hillary?
In 2010 we follow Jochen Hemmleb on another risky search expedition to the roof of the world. With forensic methods, Hemmleb and his team now want to find the body of Mallory's partner, Andrew Irvine. Irvine took with him a small camera, the film of which could provide an aswer to the question: Who was the first to summit Mount Everest?
A film by Gerald Salmina - producer of the award-winning "Mount St. Elias".
"Gerald Salmina's 'Erster auf dem Everest' (First atop Everest) is the documentary about the Mallory story I wanted to see produced for the past nine years. It is 'CSI on Everest' and doesn't deal with the myth but with the hard facts of the Mallory case. With forensic investigations by renowned criminologists, high-altitude physiologists, meteorologists, and equipment experts as well as state-of-the-art animations and re-enactments it delivers a blow-by-blow reconstruction of the events of June 8, 1924." (Jochen Hemmleb)
It is perhaps the most told and most fiercely debated story in mountaineering history: the story of Reinhold Messner and the death of his brother, Guenther, on Nanga Parbat in 1970. It is a story of contradictions, controversies, suspicions, and apportioning of blame - polarized to this day.
Is there a way beyond the polarized debate? A way to prevent an author being automatically cornered as either a Messner-supporter or Messner-critic?
It's the way of this book.
It asks critical questions without moralizing. It observes and analyses, but doesn't judge and value. Because there are no heroes and villains in this book, no victims and culprits - only human beings, who, in differing proportions, are always both. This book is about understanding the events from back then to today, about the diversity of voices and opinions, about evolution and repeating patterns of a story.
"Circumstances do not shape the man; they only reveal him." (Epiktet, greek philosopher, 50-125; quoted on p. 220)
"The constant repetition of moralistic outrage is as natural as it is irrelevant. Outrage alone fosters neither knowledge nor understanding. And understanding is not approval."
(Carolin Emcke in "Stumme Gewalt", p. 72; quoted on p. 219)
My new book is due mid-March. As the book deals a lot with how history is written and perceived, the following text - which I recently came across in a book - seems very fitting. Enjoy!
"Newspapers, journals, books are traditional sources of information and opinion. Today, telephones and computers are added to the mix, along with radio and television. Knowledge is a step further from belief. We are bombarded with knowledge - data, information, opinion, advice, etc.
But the saying that 'knowledge is power' is another one of those ego-feeding illusions. Knowledge by itself is incomplete. The step beyond knowledge is understanding. Do we understand what we know? Could it be, for example, that half of what we know [...] is really irrelevant and nonessential?
Understanding demands time, alone. To sort out and then put together again - in some order - what we think we know. Our trap is to treat 'knowledge' as a be-all-and-end-all. If the knowledge we have at hand doesn't immediately offer us a solution, then we rush out to find more knowledge, more data, more information. I suggest a very contrarian, 'counter-cultural' alternative. We need to stop and think, to see if we understand the knowledge we already have at hand. [...] Logic, analysis, and deduction have become virtually lost arts. It's because we don't take the time to practice them. We know a lot, understand little. We are easily led, easily influenced. We spend too much time on the phone and on computer bulletin boards, and not enough time alone, thinking - for ourselves.
People who are at the forefront of research are particularly vulnerable. Knowledge, opinion and advice simply flow their way. They have to insist on time and space - alone - to think. Otherwise they can literally 'overdose' on knowledge. The mind-control devices of attention deflection and disinformation are designed to create this overload."
If this text strikes a chord and you'd like to know how this relates to mountaineering history, tune in again in mid-March ...
The renowned German climbing magazine "Alpin" rated "Tatort Mount Everest" their Book of the Month in September. "Can you ask for more?" is the conclusion of their review of a compelling detective story.