First 8000 Meter Summiteer Maurice Herzog Passes Away

Annapurna South Face

Sad news from France today, where we’ve received word that Maurice Herzog has passed away at the ripe old age of 93. If his name is familiar, it is because he was the first man, along with climbing partner  Louis Lachenal, to successfully summit an 8000 meter peak.

Herzog and Lachenal climbed their way into the history books back on June 3, 1950 when they made the first successful attempt up Annapurna, the tenth highest peak in the world at 8091 meters (26,545 ft). Even more remarkable, considering the time, they actually made the ascent without the use of supplemental oxygen. The climb was not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination however, as the summit team, along with two companions, spend a night camped out in a crevasse on the descent. They had one sleeping bag between the four men and as a result, they suffered severe frostbite. Herzog himself had lost his gloves on the way to the summit and ended up having all of his toes and several fingers amputated in the field.

Ironically, Annapurna was the first of the 8000 meter peaks to be summited, but is now considered to be amongst the most challenging of those 14 mountains to climb. It wouldn’t be successfully conquered again until 1970.

After his harrowing climb, Herzog published a book about the adventure entitled Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8000-Meter Peak, which has gone on to be one of the best selling mountaineering books of all time. The book has been translated into 40 languages and has sold over 12 million copes across the globe, inspiring generations of mountaineers that followed. He also served as the Commissioner of Youth and Sport in France and was the mayor of Chamonix from 1968-1977.

A legend of the mountaineering world has passed but his legacy will certainly live on.

Thanks to Lou-Phi for sharing this news.

Kraig Becker

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