Aug 11, 2012

Nikos Deja Vu - The legendary life and death of Hermann Buhl

1924 – 1957

Nanga Parbat - Click to enlarge

A legend and a source of inspiration for many of todays elite mountaineerers (and not only). Hermann Buhl was exceptionally strong with an almost superhuman endurance and will power; this in combination with taking greather risks than most others, Hermann Buhl succeeded where others failed.

He soloed the final stage on Nanga Parbats Rakhiot Route during the first ascent in 1953, spent the night above 8,000 meters on a tiny ledge, finally returning to the camp after 41 hours he was hallucinating and crawling downwards, looking 10 years older. This climb is now regarded as one of the greatest mountaineering feats of all time.

Four years later, on Broad Peak, he and his partners showed that a 8,000 meter mountain could be climbed without a large team and porters. Buhl was suffering badly from the injuries he got on Nanga Partbat and was ascending extremely slowly during the last section, he sent his rope-companion, Kurt Diemberger ahead to catch up with the other rope-team, Wintersteller and Schmuck, they reached the summit together.

While descending Dimberger found it surprising that Buhl was still ascending. - "Hermann kept coming up, slowly, step by step, his face drawn, his eyes straight ahead. It was close on half past six. Surely it was madness to go on to the summit now?". Diemberger, spellbound by Buhls determination, accompanied him back to the summit. - "ahead of us gleamed a radiance, enfolding every wish life could conjure, enfolding life itself. Now was the moment of ineffable truth... this was utter fulfillment... There we stood, speechless, and shook hands in silence. We looked down at the snow underfoot, and to our amazement it seemed to be aglow. Then the light went out."

Some days later they attempted Chogolisa, but it was Buhls last mountain, near the summit he fell through a cornice to his death.

Today, Kurt Diemberger, himself a legend, still finds it hard to talk about the accident: - "It was a terrible experience because all of a sudden my friend had disappeared.... and ya... I could never believe that something like this could ever happen to Hermann Buhl. He had just climbed Nanga Parbat solo and... ...It was a very, very hard way down Chogolisa."

This was by far Buhls only famous climbs, since a young boy he had always pushed himself and had made a lot of spectacular climbs in the Alps, often solo, being a breath away from death. Hermann Buhl was an exeptionally strong climber, a master on rock and an exellent mountaineer. He was ahead of his fellow climbers at this time. Reinhold Messner: "Buhl was light, wiry, and very
fit. He had the ideal climber's build. He moved languidly, like a cat, but fast and steady. Over the years he also developed an instinct for danger in the mountains. It was on loose rock that Buhl's real mastery was apparent."

Prior the Nanga Parbat ascent, Buhl had only once before pushed himself to his very limit, being totally exhausted. That was on the Eiger North Face in 1951. He and his climbing partner Sepp Jochler where trapped high on the face in very bad weather. The rock got plastered in verglass and made all climbing a fight for life. They where not alone on the wall, three other parties with seven men also found themself unable to continue. Among them where the famous Gaston Rebuffat and Guido Magnone. Buhl took the lead fought his way up the Exit Cracks that was nearly impossible to climb. Rebuffat: "On the fourth day Hermann gave his all for us on one rope length for four hours. And then at the top suddenly flipped over and was hanging head down. So naturally I went up to him and had to turn him right way up, and seeing he was no longer in a fit state to lead, I had no option but to take over..." "...Buhl had not only achieved absolutley mastery, he had climbed above all the others."

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Brief Biography

On 21 September 1924 will be Hermann Buhl in Innsbruck as the youngest of four siblings born. After the death of the mother Hermann spends the next few years in the orphanage. In the 30s taking as weakly and sensitive boy force the first tours in the Alps and the Tux Karwendel. 1939 he meets the young crew of the section of the DAV in Innsbruck, increases rapidly skill and efficiency and will soon overcome difficult climbing routes until VI. Degree.

After completion of the Hauptschule Hermann Buhl begins a lesson on merchant shipping. Through 1943 he trained as a medical soldiers and experienced the war as Mountain in Italy, including at Monte Cassino. After returning captive-born Hermann Buhl returned to Innsbruck and denies his livelihood due to lack of professional practice, with occasional activities. End of the forties he closes his training as a mountain guide from.

In the following years managed Hermann Buhl, despite minimal financial resources with different climbing partners, including Luis Vigl, Kuno Rainer, Martin Schließler, Marcus jewelry, difficult tours in the Eastern and Western Alps, partly as a first ascents. These include in particular the first ascent of the west wall of the Wilder Kaiser Maukspitze in 1943, the first winter ascent of the Marmolada-southwest wall in 1950, the first total exceeding the Aiguilles of Chamonix in 1950, the first ascent of the Northeast alone wall of the Piz Badile 1952, the 8th Durchsteigung the Eiger North Face in 1952 and unfavorable conditions of Tofana Southeast pillar 1952.

In March 1951 Hermann Buhl marries Eugenie ( 'Generl') Hogerle from Ramsau / Berchtesgaden, and Hermann is in the next few years, the father of three daughters.
From financial constraints on its business as a mountain guide freed him in 1952, the appointing Schuster Sports House in Munich as a mountain sports equipment vendors and equipment consultant.

At the end of 1952, Hermann Buhl of Dr. Charles M. Herrligkoffer the German-Austrian Willy Merkl Memorial expedition to Nanga Parbat invited. As a 'training' he coped in February 1953 alone the night Watzmann-east face (Berchtesgaden Alps) on the way Salzburger difficult. The success of these organizational shortcomings in suffering, Nanga Parbat expedition is only the initiative of the High Camp IV is leading a group from Hans Ertl, Ms. Berger and Walter Hermann Buhl thanks to a weather turnaround against a statement of bergsteigerischen director Peter Aschenbrenner from the base camp to the summit push uses.

Hermann Buhl crowned with his legendary 41-hour single-handedly from the warehouse V in 6950 m altitude to the summit of Nanga Parbat, 8125 m, he became the first man after many failed expeditions on the evening of the 3rd July 1953 reached his career bersteigerische. His portrayal of the exhausting summit gangs among the classics of alpine literature. This phenomenal alone on Nanga Parbat summit is, and remains, if one takes into account time and equipment, the singular and never more achievable mountaineering performance. Like all seems appropriate, Reinhold Messner Nanga Parbat-alone from Base Camp to the summit in 1978. Back in the homeland Hermann Buhl experienced the shadow of his fame lonely summit success.

Through envy, and Mißgunst dispute with the head of the expedition, he sees itself as depicted outsiders difficult and isolated. But Hermann Buhl is by celebrating successes with lectures throughout Europe and is in Austria for the athletes of the year. His book'8000 - down there and forget it ', by Kurt Maix (freely) edited, published 1954 and is becoming a classic alpine literature.

His mountaineering more entrepreneurial career will begin by the Nanga Parbat suffered frostbite on the right foot with a toe amputation hampered. In the years 1954 to 1956 makes Hermann Buhl but again most difficult tours, is increasingly alone in the local mountains, the Dolomites and in the Mont Blanc area.

1957 he plans with Marcus Schmuck, Fritz Wintersteller and Kurt Diemberger his second Himalayan expedition, this time on Broad Peak in the Karakorum. Forward-looking and far ahead of their time is to implement with a small team in the Western Alps style from base camp to the summit without high-makers. On 9 June 1957 expedition to reach all participants the summit of Broad Peak (8,047 m) without artificial oxygen.

Back at base camp trying Kurt Diemberger and Hermann Buhl an attempt to climb Chogolisa (7654 m) above the Sudostgrat. A snow storm forces them but in 7300 m altitude to reverse. When you descend in poor visibility crashes Hermann Buhl with guards on the northern wall. Kurt Diemberger rescues into the base camp and starts with the other expedition participants in a search and rescue, but remains unsuccessful. Hermann Buhl remains since then in the northern wall of Chogolisa disappeared. A great career climbers will be her tragic end. The man who already has overcome countless threats, crashes into a relatively harmless situation to death.
Hermann Buhl heard with Kurt Diemberger (Broad Peak 8047 meters, 1957 / Dhaulagiri 8167 m, 1960) and Gyaltsen Norbu Sherpa (Makalu 8463 meters, 1955 in the second group of the French expedition / Manaslu 8163 m, 1956) to single people, Eight thousand two first have mounted.

Hermann Buhl signed a special tenacity, determination, tenacity and ability to last out is made from. Among his contemporaries, he likes because of its hardness against themselves and others as an individualist difficult subject, in the heart of the climbers, however, he found his place. Hermann Buhl became the model for many mountaineers and his vision of Eight thousand ascent in the western alpine style was by Reinhold Messner continued and perfected.

His spectacular Nanga Parbat-first ascent secures him a place in the history of mountaineering, along with other pioneers such as Paul Preuss, Ludwig Purtscheller, Albert F. Mummery, Edward Whymper, Willo Welzenbach, Edmund Hillary, Riccardo Cassin, Walter Bonatti and Reinhold Messner.

In Memoriam..

"Mountaineering is a relentless pursiut. One climbs further and further yet never reaches the destination. Perhaps that is what gives it its own particular charm. One is constantly searching for something never to be found." - Hermann Buhl

Nikos Deja Vu

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