WHow does mankind actually benefit from the fact that an individual was the first to climb all eight-thousanders? Perhaps, at first glance, such irrational acts show the power inherent in the individual. What he can accomplish, how he can grow beyond himself.
People have always been fascinated by peaks, regardless of whether they are Montafon, Montblanc or Mount Everest. Those who suffer from wanderlust in the mountains this summer can dream up closer with mountain books. Or plan your next trip to the mountains. Our selection includes classics and new releases, illustrated books and experiences.
How Reinhold Messner became a mountain climber
He polemicizes and polarizes, his books fill shelves: Reinhold Messner is one of the most famous mountain climbers worldwide. The South Tyrolean wrote his autobiography back in 1989: “The freedom to go wherever I want.”
As a boy, Messner started scrambling up local mountains and kept shifting standards. He climbed extremely difficult routes in the Alps, he was the first person on all eight-thousanders, without bottled oxygen. The book shows how Messner became a mountain climber and what drives him to this day.
He became addicted to these intense mountain experiences early on. He has been accused of escaping reality, he writes. “But I felt that I was fleeing to reality. When I was up there, especially in a borderline situation, I was in the middle of my own life. ”A classic worth reading.
“The freedom to leave, wherever I want to. A Mountaineering Life ”by Reinhold Messner, Piper 1989, 18 euros
When vacationers discovered the mountains
Andreas Lesti tells how the mountains from the place of horror, inhabited by dragons and tassels, became coveted destinations. His recently published summit book also illuminates unknown Alpine people such as the early mountain guide Belsazar Hacquet and shows in the story of Goethe in Chamonix that the mountains almost killed posterity.
It is not without reason that Goethe wrote of “disgusting rock faces”, but Alpine tourism marketing has so far ignored that, writes Lesti. This entertaining tone characterizes him, plus there is his own experience. Lesti thus combines the events surrounding the first package tour in the Alps with a trip today to the Jungfraujoch, this “absurd place”.
He always writes with journalistic distance, but with empathy. You can feel that he cares about the mountains and mountain people in the final chapter, a kind of obituary for the Tyrolean David Lama who died in 2019. Beauty and grace always have a downside, it says. There is nothing to add – see the Goethe quote above.
“That’s the summit!” By Andreas Lesti, Bergwelten Verlag 2020, 18 euros
An intimate approach to the Alps
Uli Wiesmeier’s earlier pictures became the epitome of sport climbing, such as the spectacular shot of climber Stefan Glowacz, who hangs on a rock on a rock high above Australia. Wiesmeier was an advertising photographer, photojournalist, but his illustrated book is not a smorgasbord, but an intimate approach to the mountains.
The 18 chapters are well sorted: from mountain farmer to mountain guide, mountain view, mountain sport to mountain death, everything is included. Wiesmeier looks out over the horizon. For the mountain farmers, he not only shows (expectable) weather-tanned people, but also puts a young person next to them – and the tools of his era: a milking stool here, a milking machine there.
For the subject of mountain death, Wiesmeier went to the Alpine Police archives and photographed helmets, hooks, ropes that were involved in an accident. The photos look like they are from catalogs of a supplier, the captions describe the misfortune in sober facts.
His pairs of images are also original: the high-rise buildings in Manhattan are amazingly similar to the mountain peaks of the Civetta. Overall, a total work of art, masterfully designed.
“BERG … The Alps in 18 terms” by Uli Wiesmeier (photos) and Stefan König (text), Knesebeck Verlag 2017, 75 euros
A hands-on book for children
Piotr Karski, born in Warsaw in 1987, graphic designer and author, designed this children’s mountain book. They can paint embroidery on traditional costumes, build barometers and unravel contour lines; you can cut and paste snowflakes and design a fire salamander.
Creative painting, handicraft and drawing tasks alternate with mental exercises on the mountains. Some tasks invite you to change your perspective: So you can take a bat’s perspective by letting your head dangle over the edge of the bed.
It’s also about mountaineering, Karski explains what the Seven Summits are and why you need a “friend” when climbing. Very entertaining for parents and children.
“Mountains!” By Piotr Karski, Moritz Verlag 2017, 20 euros
Portraits of huts arouse anticipation
A selection of 50 huts in the Alpine region is presented here. The fresh layout catches the eye, there are red drawings of mountains, chamois, wood and a “pretzel carabiner”. Reportage-style photos show landlords cooking, sheep in front of the door, dishes typical of the country, such as wild roast rösti.
Some mountain huts are remote, like the Nosberger hut, others, such as the Tegernseer hut, the first guests climb up for breakfast. You can see old walls that hardly stand out from the rock, like the South Tyrolean Becherhaus, but also modern construction, such as the Edelrauthütte in the Zillertal.
The book should become a source of anticipation, writes the author Sissi Pärsch. It was successful.
“Our most beautiful huts. 50 Portraits from the Alpine Region ”by Sissi Pärsch, Bergwelten Verlag 2019, 28 euros
Passion that doesn’t always end well
Book author Michael Ruhland is editor-in-chief of the magazine “Bergsteiger”, he knows many mountain people. Without a buddy dozen, but with a lot of empathy, Ruhland questioned celebrities of alpinism. Of course, Stefan Glowacz, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Huber-Buam are among them. But Ruhland also approaches the grim blues musician Willy Michl, the actor Rufus Beck, the Ladin musicians Elisabeth and Marlene Schuen.
Christoph Jorda has staged artistic portrait photos. The trained body of the young Alexander Megos looks like an ancient statue. Adam Ondra thinks of a Savior at a crossroads in the Alps. The chapters have headings such as humility, love, and risk – but it’s not about heroic stories, but about passion that doesn’t always end well. Four of the portrayed people are no longer alive.
Ruhland has recorded older interviews with Heiner Geißler and Ueli Steck; the two alpinists Hansjörg Auer and David Lama were involved in an accident in 2019. The mountain mountaineer Tamara Lunger sums up what drives the mountain people all: “You just give up the post.”
“Mountain people – 30 icons of the mountain world about risk, love and humility” by Michael Ruhland, Frederking & Thaler 2019, 34.99 euros
Das Drama am Mount Everest
“I stood on the highest point on earth, one foot in Tibet, the other in Nepal. I had dreamed of this moment for months, of the intoxication of feelings that would accompany him. But now, when I actually reached the summit of Mount Everest, I simply didn’t have the strength to feel anything at all. ”
And then the drama takes its course. Jon Krakauer’s “In Icy Heights” became a worldwide success. He describes the tragedy on Mount Everest when eight participants in two expeditions died in 1996, among them experienced mountain guides. Krakauer had been assigned to go on an expedition to write a report on the commercialization of Everest.
Because of a change in the weather, there was a drama. The report is written grippingly and for the first time made known to the general public the full extent of commercial mountaineering. The problem exists today more than ever, the book is timelessly up to date.
“To icy heights. Das Drama am Mount Everest ”by Jon Krakauer, Piper Paperback 1997, 12 euros
What drives women to peak performance
The road to equality in the mountains was long. The early women were in skirts and not only had to conquer the mountain, but the resistance of their time. The first female member of the British Alpine Club was – a dog. As a reward for the animal reaching Monte Rosa in 1865. The American Meta Brevoort had brought him up.
The American Arlene Blum was denied participation in an expedition in the 1960s “because women disrupt the camaraderie among men”. She then put together a – successful – women’s expedition on the 6,190-meter Denali in Alaska.
In the portraits, you get close to the women and find out exactly what drives them up the mountains and achieving top performance, be it pioneers such as Eleonore Noll-Hasenclever or Renata Rossi, who became the first Italian mountain guide in 1984, sports climber Catherine Destivelle and of course Lynn Hill , who in 1994 was the first person to climb the “The Nose” route freely on El Capitan in the Yosemite Valley. Her comment: “It goes, boys. – Guys, that’s doable. ”It should take eleven years for men to succeed on the route.
“First on the rope. Pioneers in rock and ice ”by Caroline Fink and Karin Steinbach, Tyrolia Verlag 2013, 29.95 euros
Everything about climbing
At first glance a coffee table book: nice pictures and a little accompanying text. In fact, you can see great pictures of walls and climbers around the world.
But: The lyrics are really good too! Julie Ellison was the first editor-in-chief of the American magazine “Climbing”, it describes the roots and the differences of all types of climbing, bouldering without a rope, sport climbing on sunlit rocks or in a cave in Norway, and alpinism at high altitudes.
The articles are well researched and portraits feature celebrities like Babsi Zangerl, Alex Megos and Ines Papert. You can find out which equipment is necessary and where the most beautiful areas for the respective sport are.
In short: The volume provides comprehensive information, is smart and is fun. Extra plus point: The book is so heavy that it is also suitable for strength training on the sofa.
“Cliffhanger. The New Lust for Climbing ”by Julie Ellison, Gestalten Verlag 2020, 39.90 euros
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