The Naked Mountain is the account of the ascent and tragedy on the Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. I am aware there are other accounts of the same expedition but Rehinold Messner’s account is the only one I have read. The expedition was full of controversy and ended in almost a double tragedy.
The Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat is the backdrop of the drama. The Messner brothers were part of a large expedition and initially it looked like they were beaten by the weather. The book also gives a glimpse into Reinhold Messner’s early life but only in the passing. In the early part of the book the author talks about many climbs he did with his brother.
In 1970 Reinhold gets invited to climb the Nanga Parbat with a German team. The team leader Herrligkoffer seems to be a controversial figure himself and has a long association with the mountain even though he doesn’t climb himself. Later Reinhold managed to secure an invitation for his younger brother Gunther too when someone else dropped out.It was only by reading this book I realized that this was the first eight-thousander mountain that Reinhold Messner climbed.
After the initial bout of bad weather they got a break and move back to high camps and after a rocket was fired to indicate bad weather Reinhold Messner started his climb solo as per plan. He gradually realizes that his brother followed him solo on his own. Both of them eventually reach the summit. But it was while getting down the mountain that things started going horribly wrong!
With so much happening on his first eight-thousander it is amazing that Messner does not gave up climbing altogether! He went ahead and climbed all the 14 eight-thousanders and became the first person in the world to do so!
You will like this book if you like mountains, trekking or climbing. I am no climber myself but I just love reading climbing books! The book has been translated from German to English and it has been translated well. The pictures in the book make me drool all over. The view they get when they go high up!
Overall a heroic book that raises a lot of questions about human ambition and mountaineering culture.
PS. The 1996 Everest Disaster is the only episode on which I have read two books Into Thin Air and The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. It really gives a new meaning to there being two sides to every story!
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.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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