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Hermann Buhl: Climbing without Compromise

by Reinhold Messner and Horst  Hofler

Translated by Tim Carruthers. Seattle: Mountaineers Books, 2000. 205 pages.

 

„In mountaineering there are some names which acquire mythic status. They have a resonance that goes far beyond mere skill or achievement. In fact, it is often the reverse, the climber's exploits have an epic quality that has nothing to do with good sense, planning or rational behaviour. They tread too close to the edge. They trespass beyond the normal boundaries. They get in scrapes. They probably have flawed characters overloaded with God knows what emotional baggage. You probably wouldn't want your daughters to marry them. But they are heroes.
Of all the heroes who influenced my generation of climbers, the most enduring must be Hermann Buhl. His book Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage must have inspired countless youthful, deluded Boy's Own dreams of battling against the odds up terrifying precipices.”
Stephan Venables, “High” 2001, September, No. 226,          p. 74-75

„Until this book, the only written material that was available for most of us on the life of Hermann Buhl was Buhl's own autobiography, Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge, which was originally printed in 1956. Messner and Hofler obviously felt it was time to delve deeper into the life of this man who for many of us became the prototypical mountain hero with his solo ascent of Nanga Parbat in 1953.
Messner and Hofler draw on diary entries and letters by Buhl,     in addition to other sources not available in English, to give us a portrait more human and fallible than the usual climbing biography. And, of course, they tell us more about those last days on Broad Peak and Chogolisa, where Buhl's career ended, along with his footprints, at a broken cornice.”
Ron Matous, „American Alpine Journal” 2001, p. 422-423


“Buhl is undoubtedly a seminal figure in the development of post-war Alpinism and mountaineering (many would argue the seminal figure) but it is probably also true that only a relatively small group of mountaineering enthusiasts and historians are keen enough to wade through the unadulterated scritablings of the famous Austrian Bergfuhrer. This exhaustive tome will surely satisfy the trainspotting instincts of the latter groups, but for the more general reader it is a confusingly organised and over-elaborate dissection of the great man's life and writing. (…)
Messner and Hofler have constructed a tortuous and fragmented biography that fails to deliver any further insights into the motivations and character of Buhl not already apparent from reading his original 'flawed' autobiography. This is because Climbing without Compromise has been written by fans without the degree of objective criticism which good biography needs. (…)
Should you buy this book? Yes - but only if you are a hard-core Hermann Buhl fan or an Alpine history buff. It will arm you with enough factoids to counter any amount of Buhlshit from ignorant peers. No - if you are just generally interested in the background of the man. Go to the original 'factionaiized' Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage instead, and have a much more relaxing and enjoyable time.”
Colin Wells, “On The Edge” 2001, May, No. 107, p. 80-81

 

 

 
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