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The world's best and most influential climbers shown with their greatest successes and contributions.
Reinhold Messner is probably the most famous mountaineer in Germany. Born in South Tirol, he was the first to climb the Mount Everest without additional oxygen (1987) and also the first who stood on top of all 14 eight-thousanders (1986). Moreover, the allrounder was the first who ascended an eight-thousanders all on his own (Nanga Parbat, 1978).
By ascending the K2 in 2011, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner was the first woman ever to ascend all eight-thousanders and the first who managed this without additional oxygen. However, the 1970 born Austrian is not keen on records. " If it was all about records, I would have taken the easiest route everywhere [...] Being the first is not important to me".
As the younger half of the "Huberbuam" Alexander Huber established his reputation as extreme mountaineer. The Bavarian holds numerous speed records and is one of the most defining free climbers of the 21st century. As the first human ever, he climbed a 9a+ route (Open Air at the Schleierwaterfall in Austria).
"Swiss Machine" was how Ueli Steck (1976-2017) was called. The speed climber broke multiple records on challenging routes. From June 5th until the 5th of August, Steck ascended all 82 four-thousanders of the Alps. In 2014 he received the Piole d'Or, after he ascended the Annapurna-South-Wall in 28 hours on his own, according to his own disclosures. In 2017 Steck died during training climbing at Nuptse.
As the first woman ever, Edurne Passaban ascended all 14 eight-thousanders ( the expeditions by the Corean Oh Eun-Sun are not officially accomplished.) She lost 2 toes at the K2 because of frost-bite. In 2011 she was rewarded as athlete of the year in Spain.
The Italian Walter Bonatti (1930-2011) was only 19 years old when he ascended the most difficult walls in the alps. In addition, he was part of an expedition in 1954, which mastered the first ascend of the K2. The Petit Dru's south-west pillar was named "Bonattipillar" after Bonatti's 6 days-long solo run in 1955. In 1961 he was part of the Mont-Blanc-Expedition, from which 4 alpinists did not return, known as the Freney-Tragedy. Bonatti ended his career as a extreme alpinists in the same year.
Herman Buhl (1924-1957) was the first who conquered the Nanga Parbat and belonged to the first ascendants of the Broad Peak. In 1957 Buhl fell at the Chogolisa (7654m) and is officially missing ever since. He revolutionised alpinism by ascending with only light baggage. Buhl was the first who mastered the final part of an eight-thousander on his own and without extra oxygen.
If the Broad Peak Central was recognized its very own pillar, there would be only one person who ascended all, then 15, eight-thousanders: Jerzy Kukuczka (1948-1989). The Pole was the second human, after Reinhold Messner, who ascended all eight-thousanders. 1989 Kukucka died at the Lhotse south wall as he fell 2 kilometres.