Reinhold Messner is considered a legend in the climbing community. Many consider him to be the greatest mountain climber ever, and his resume is indeed impressive. He was the first man to climb all fourteen 8000 meter peaks, and he did it without the use of supplemental oxygen. He is known as a bold, aggressive climber who is fearless on the mountain.
But Messner is also at the center of a controversy that has been brewing for more than 35 years. In 1970, Reinhold, and his brother Gunther, were part of a team of climbers who traveled to Nanga Parbat, a 26,660 foot peak in the Western Himalayas of Pakistan. During that expedition, Reinhold and Gunther successfully completed an assault on the summit, via a route that had never been taken before. However, something went horribly wrong on the descent, and only Reinhold made it back alive.
What actually happened on Nanga Parbat has been a mystery ever since. Reinhold claims his brother was suffering from altitude sickness, and that the two were separated, with Gunther never to be seen again. Other members of the team have accused Reinhold of being too ambitious, saying that he left his own brother on the mountain to further his own climbing career and to seek glory for himself.
In July of last year, Gunther’s body was at long last found on the slopes of Nanga Parbat, but does it hold any clues to where or how the younger Messner brother died? Has it quieted the debate surrounding the tragedy? No, not really. But Outside Magazine has posted an excellent article on the entire story. Click here to read the latest news on the Messner Saga.
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