Even if you read climbing related books marginally, chances are you would have heard of Reinhold Messner. Many would argue that he is the greatest climber of all times. I of course have very limited knowledge about climbing. I just like to read climbing books and even with my limited reading I have been able to figure out that Messner is the big name in mountaineering. This review is about his book All 14 Eight-Thousanders
All the 14 Eight Thousanders is the only book I have read by Messner. There are 14 mountains in this world that stand over 8000 meter tall. Messner has climbed all of them. He has climbed all of them without using supplemental oxygen. He is the first person in the world to have done so. And this book is all about his climbs to the 14 mountains that are over 8000 meters tall.
Each chapter in the book is about climbing one of the mountain. And they make for gripping stories. For some mountains he had to go back twice, even thrice before he succeeded. On Nanga Parbat (in Pakistan) he lost his brother who was climbing with him. There were tragedies on other mountains. Even by reading his own accounts I can sense he was a controversial figure.
After few expeditions at the beginning of his career he realized that he was not cut out for big expeditions. In those days big mountains were not climbed Alpine style (very light weight expeditions when compared to the siege style) and without oxygen. He did both! If you read Messner it feels all the problem one could face while climbing the biggest mountains in this world is bad weather! He was that capable! Once or twice he mentions ill health but other than that it feels as if the most natural thing to do in this world is to climb a mountain!
The pictures in the book are out of this world! If you like coffee table books this is a perfect one for the pictures it has! The book has been translated in English from German. Messner at the end mentions the commercial expeditions on big mountains at the end of his book. And he is quite critical of the commercialization of the climbing, particularly Everest.
After reading All 14 Eight Thousanders I am certainly going to read more books by Messner and about Messner.