As much as I would love Buhl for instance to have climbed NP, I dont see his summit photo as much of a proof other than that he was pretty high up. Or?
Buhl left his ice axe on the summit. The ice axe was found on the summit decades later, so there is no doubt that he reached the summit.
Hmh, well, there's no reasonable doubt, anyway
I think this is an interesting topic, and I tend to believe that people who neglect the geopolitical aspect of 19th and early 20th century mountaineering don't really understand how different the world was back then.
I remember discussing these things during high school history lessons. Imperialistic aspirations back then were just as much about publicity stunts as they were about materialistic gains. You absolutely have to remember that many of the aristocracy, for example, were basically above the financial world, so for them honor and prestige offered by such actions offered more than simply conquering more land to farm etc.
This is very much related to the concept of heroism, which has disappeared in the Western world. Maybe it's education, or just mere cynicism, but there just are no heroes anymore. Neither are there real rock stars. The population at large just isn't willing to look at anyone from such an angle anymore. And then we make the assumption that the preceding generations were the same, even though they quite evidently were not.
P.S: Sorry for incoherent rambling