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Explorer and mountaineer Reinhold Messner is famous for making the first solo ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.
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Italian mountaineer and explorer Reinhold Messner has made a career of near-impossible climbs, and is considered one of the greatest climbers in history. On May 8, 1978, Messner completed his ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen— a feat previously thought to be impossible. Additionally, Messner has climbed all 14 of the world's peaks that measure 8,000 meters and up. Messner is also an author, a politician, and a businessman.
Born on September 17, 1944, in South Tyrol, Italy. One of the greatest mountaineers of all time, Reinhold Messner was the first to climb all fourteen of the world's 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. His father introduced him to mountaineering when he was five years old, and he soon developed into an expert climber. Messner grew up surrounded by the Dolomites, part of the Italian Alps, in the Villnöss Valley, a primarily German-speaking area.
For a time, Messner studied at the University of Padua. He soon devoted himself to other adventures, however. Messner became a proponent for a simpler, more streamlined type of mountaineering. On a trip to the Peruvian Andes in 1969, he meet another likeminded climber Peter Habeler. The pair would later team up.
Messner soon learned firsthand the tragedies that sometimes befall mountaineers. In 1970, he was on an expedition in the Himalayas. Messner and his younger brother Günther had climbed the Rupal face of Pakistan's Nanga Parbat when disaster struck. Günther began to show signs of altitude sickness, and Reinhold tried to find the fastest way down. During their descent, Reinhold got ahead of Günther . When went back to check on his brother, he discovered that Günther had been swept away by an avalanche.
After looking for his brother, Messner eventually made it down the mountain. He lost six toes and several fingertips to frostbite in this trek, and he was blamed for his brother's death by many. This experience did not stop Messner from pursuing new challenges. In 1975, he climbed Gasherbrum I in the Himalayas with Peter Habeler without supplemental oxygen. Messner then tackled Mount Everest with Habeler three years later, becoming the first to do so without the aid of oxygen tanks. He once described the experience as being "a single narrow gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits."
In 1980, Messner decided to go it alone. He completed the first solo ascent of Mount Everest without extra oxygen, sherpas, or crevasse ladders. Chronicling his epic journey, Messner wrote the book The Crystal Mountain about the climb. He has written more than 50 books during his career.
Messner reached a career peak in 1986 when he became the first man to climb all of the mountains that stand above 8,000 meters. Around this time, he first reported seeing a yeti, an animal that some believe to be mythical. He continued to seek out these animals and later concluded that they were some type of nocturnal bear.
In 1999, Messner showed an interest in politics, winning a seat in the European Parliament.
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