Hermann BuhlHermann Buhl was born on September 21st 1924 in Innsbruck (Tyrol, Austria) and is considered one of the best alpinists of all time. On his 10th birthday he summited his first mountain (Glugenzer, 2600m/8531ft). From there on he couldn' t stop dreaming of mountains and started to climb and soonly reached UIAA grade VI (maximum grade of this time). During summer 1940 he and his partner watched a solo climber overtaking them. After a while he fell to his death and Buhl recognized that climbing is a dangerous thing. But this didn' t stop him and he did several firsts and difficult routes all over the alps.
The fascination of Hermann Buhl has a lot to do with the first ascent of Nanga Parbat in 1953. Buhl was invited in 1952 and trained a lot. His final test was the first solo and winter ascent of Watzmann east face. 31 people had died on Nanga Parbat until that date and it didn' t look so well for the Austro German expedition lead by Dr. Herrligkoffer. The expedition had to deal with bad weather and ill organisation and finally the climbers among Buhl where called back to basecamp. On July 1st the weather got better and after a discussion with the basecamp they got green light to make a summit attempt. After this they ascended to camp V (6900m / 22600ft) to have a good start point of their summit attempt. On the next day at 1am Buhl woke Otto Kempter, who didn' t feel good. He said that he' ll follow Buhl in a few hours. Buhl decided to try a solo ascent.
Kempter followed the tracks of Buhl but turned around at Silbersattel (silver col, 7450m / 24443ft). Late that evening Buhl reached the top Nanga Parbat after 17 hours of climbing. He made some photos and placed his pick on the summit, which had been brought down by Takehido Ikeda in 1999. After descending a few metres he turned arround and ascendet to the summit again to pick a stone for his wife. After nightfall he had to camp without a tent at still around 8000m/26000ft. In his books about Nanga Parbat he describes the appeareance of a partner, though he knew that there was nobody except him. Therefore Buhl is propably the first person to experience the existence of a ghost partner. After 41 hours of solo climbing he reached camp V again.
Buhl had frozen toes and had to be carried off basecamp, because he wasn' t able to walk anymore. He is the only person, who did a first ascent of an 8000m peak solo and he didn' t use oxygen. The only thing he earned chriticism for after returning home, were Paduin pills (he ate some of these to avoid frostbite during the night he was standing at 8000m/26000ft). Nevertheless this solo ascent is one of the greatest things ever been done in the Himalayan mountains.
Broad Peak and Chogolisa
In 1957 Marcus Schmuck initiated an austrian Karakoram expedition. The expeditions goal was to ascent Broad Peak. Buhl was the experianced climber of the expedition and therefore he was responsible for getting the best equipment of that time. Marcus Schmuck was leader and organisator of the expedition. After acclimatizing Buhl, Fritz Wintersteller, Kurt Diemberger and Schmuck made a summit attempt. Buhl ascended with Diemberger. At around 7900m / 26000ft Buhl cannot go any further, because of the frostbite from Nanga Parbat and Diemberger went on solo. During this time Schmuck and Wintersteller reached the summit of Broad Peak and turned back. After Diemberger has reached the summit he started to descent and was pretty surprised to meet Buhl ascending, despite of his frostbite. Diemberger turned arround and together they summited Broad Peak and enjoyed a splendid sunset and descended successfully to the highcamp. The complete team didn' t use oxygen or high porters.
After returning to basecamp Schmuck and Wintersteller decided to attempt Skil Brum and they summited successfully. Buhl and Diemberger tried to summit Chogolisa (7668m / 25159ft). As Schmuck and Wintersteller, Buhl decided to go in true alpine style, which has never been done before on Himalayan mountains. The word alpine style didn' t existis that time and was invented several years later. Within three days they ascended up to 6700m / 22000ft. On June 28th 1957 they left their camp at 5am and started to ascend. A few hours before he died Buhl said to Diemberger that this is the happiest day during this expedition and he always has dreamt of ascending such a mountain like a storm with one single push from basecamp. A few hours later a storm reached the mountain and made them turn back at 7300m / 24000ft. Diemberger was leading back down in difficult white out conditions, but they didn' t rope on. The ridge of Chogolisa was heavily corniced and suddenly Diemberger felt vibrations under his feet. Instinctively he jumped away from the ridge and went on descending. After a while he halted to wait for Buhl to tell him that he nearly fell through a cornice. But he didn' t see Buhl. He started to ascend again and saw the tracks of his jump action and the track of Buhl leaving his tracks and going on to the disappeared cornice. He tried to watch down the face, but he didn' t see anything and descendet to basecamp to rescue Buhl with Schmuck and Wintersteller. The body of Buhl has never been found and is burried on the foot of Chogolisa.
|www.broadpeak.org||- Official homepage of the austrian OEAV expedition to Broad Peak of 1957.|
|www.hermann-buhl.de||- Unfortunately this page is in german only, but it provides some interresting images.|
|Buhl has written several books but one of the most interresting ones is "Achtausend - drüber und drunter" (eightthousand - above and below). Since last year a new edition is available which contains Buhls Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak diaries and lots of interresting commentaries of Kurt Diemberger. Unfortunately I haven' t found an english edition (if you did please send me a pm). The german edition is available on amazon.de.Hermann Buhl - Achttausen drüber und drunter|
Piper Verlag München
ISBN-13: 978-3-89029-303-5, ISBN-10: 3-89029-303-4.