INTRODUCING ALPINE STYLE IN THE HIMALAYAS
by Per Jerberyd © 1997 – 2002
This classical climb is regarded as the first true alpine style climb in the Himalayas. Others, like Hermann Buhl and Kurt Diemberger had already tried small and fast moving expeditons , but when you take everything into account – this was the first alpine ascent on any of the fourteen 8,000 meter mountains.
WE WILL CLIMB LIKE IN THE ALPS
In 1975, Reinhold Messner invited Peter Habeler to join him on an expedition to Gasherbrum I, also know as Hidden Peak. Reinhold declared that they would climb in pure traditional style taken from the Alps. Alpine style would then be introduced in the Himalayas. This mean that the start of the climb is done from the bottom of the mountain and you carry all the gears with you on the way, if any bivouacs, they will be found on the way. No route preparation is done. Supplemental oxygen is not used.
Prior to their departure, several leading high altitude climbers made statements that this was pure madness and never would work. Several people even called it suicide. But for Reinhold this was just a logical way to continue to improve as a climber and push his limits even further.
LIGHT, FAST AND UNROPED
On 8 August 1975, they began their climb. They had no rope with them, no supplemental oxygen, just personal climbing gears. This was it. The second day they found themselves below 1,000 meter of steep ice and glazed rock section. They had planned to make the next bivouac above it. They climbed fast upwards, trusting their 12-point crampons at each step. After climbing an extremely hard and dangerous ice chimney, they came to easier ground and finally the bivouac site. They where now both exhausted and didn’t manage to eat anything. It was a hard time just to put up the tent.
The following day they left all gears in the tent, except from the ice axe, crampoons, cameras and medication and left for the summit. Peter Habeler first reached the summit; Reinhold was a few minutes behind. He had filmed Peter during the ascent. The weather was glorious and they hugged each other!
This was the second ever ascent of the mountain and the first ascent of an 8,000-meter mountain in pure alpine style. By climbing Gasherbrum I, Reinhold now was the first person to have climbed three 8,000 meter mountains.
After the climb, they got a telegram from Walter Bonatti: “Tremendous alpinism. You two are the only ones in recent years to have pushed out the boundaries of mountaineering.”
“This kind of climbing is the simplest you can imagine. It is only that you must take everything into account, all the foreseeable – and the unforeseeable, too – otherwise you will not live long.”