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The Challenge

by Reinhold Messner

Translated by Noel Bowman and Audrey Salkeld. New York: Oxford University Press and London: Kay and Ward, 1977; 205 pages, photographs;

“Nineteen seventy-five was a banner year for Himalayan mountaineering. There were classic big-expedition successes and memorable failures— and one small-expedition success that opened a whole new era. Reinhold Messner's The Challenge recounts that success.
What Messner did was climb an 8000-meter mountain, Hidden Peak (26,470 feet) with one partner, no fixed high camps or high porters, no oxygen and only 200 kilograms of gear. The pair were only five days from Base Camp to the summit and back. They didn't even rope up, and every step above the first bivouac required finding a new route. Possibly only Messner and Peter Habeler could have pulled off so big a success; few climbers are as gifted. They have endurance, speed and mountain sense unequalled in the world. Although Messner had done extremely difficult climbs in fast times and had gone on big expeditions, the Hidden Peak ascent sets a sort of exclamation point to the strand of Messner's climbing —and writing— that is assuring his place in history.”
Bruce Colman, „American Alpine Journal” 1978, p. 664-666

“This is an outstanding account of what is now appreciated as a new trend in the development of mountaineering—the ascent of an 8000m Karakoram peak, Alpine style, by a party of 2. The climbers were Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner; the mountain was Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak) (8068m) climbed with bivouac camps at 5900m and 7100m; the year was 1975- The interpersonal tensions of a bigger expedition were absent but their place was taken by a heightened awareness of the utter interdependence of the 2 climbers involved.”
Edward Pyatt, „Alpine Journal” 1979, p. 258

"The book reads like an exciting novel . . . and is a unique documentary of the most spectacular adventure in expedition history.  Thus reads the dust cover. It is nearly true. (…)
Complications and feelings repressed in much English writing and exploited too far perhaps in some American work are expressed, and the book is the better for that. It is also cheap, reasonably illustrated and definitely a very good buy."
Paul Nunn, “Crags” No. 10, p. 35

“(...) it's an excellent adventure story, which even granny would enjoy. It has excitement, danger, sex, and a hero who tears himself away from his wife and home in order to try something new on a big mountain; who is cool enough to stand on the summit of his third eight-thousander in a chic continental climbing outfit, with a pose debonair enough to deserve a full-page spread in Paris-Match; and who is man enough to share a tent with Simone Badier in a remote Baltoro village, and spend the night lying awake looking at the stars. After all, what comes beyond 'The Seventh Grade' but The Challenge? This book is so enjoyable that you can simply succumb to the Man, the Myth and the Mountains, and follow him all the way: We sat at the apex of endless space. Far below in the valleys lay a milky mist. The horizon around spread like the emptiness within. With supreme unconcern, I awoke from my state of bliss, from a kind of nirvana. (…)
The Challenge stands out as one of the most complete and satisfying books to have been written about Himalayan expedition climbing in the 'seventies, and as the most important book on high-altitude mountaineering since Bonington's Annapurna South Face. In addition, Noel Bowman and Audrey Salkeld have made a superb job of the translation, and the photographs are excellent and imaginatively laid out - with some wide-angle shots of the Karakoram which will take your breath away. It's well worth the five quid.”
Julian Atterton, “Mountain” 1977, September/October, No. 57, p. 47-48



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