Last Updated on
Reinhold Andreas Messner is recognised as the individual that made the first solo ascent of Mount Everest in 1978, as well as the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen.
Born in the perfect climbing territory in Italy, he fell in love with the Alps and climbed his first summit at the age of five.
As a teenager, he undertook free solos on the rock walls of his native mountains, the Dolomites, but this didn’t satisfy him.
In the 70s and 80s, he moved on to the 8,000-metre giants of the Himalaya and the Karakoram, completing solo alpine-style and oxygen-less climbs.
By his early twenties, Reinhold Messner was a renowned mountaineer in Europe.
Messner favoured alpine-style mountaineering, involving minimal equipment and no satellite phones, fixed ropes or established camps, with little or no external support.
In interviews he has referred to his belief that standard “expedition style” climbing is disrespectful and damaging to nature.
In subsequent years he has also become the first climber to ascend all 14 of the world’s highest peaks.
These mountains all have summits in the ‘death zone’ over 8,000 metres above sea level and are notoriously dangerous.
In 1986 at the age of 42, Messner became the first person to conquer them all – and without the use of bottled oxygen, of course.
Renowned for wanting to go only where other men had not gone before, Messner continued tackling lofty peaks, usually by untried routes.
Breaking mountaineering records wasn’t enough and he continued to expand on his decades-long laundry list of achievements.
Since completing the 14 peaks, the German-speaking Italian mountaineer, explorer, and author has taken on various other challenges around the world.
He was the first person to cross Antarctica, spending 92 days crossing 2,800 kilometres of ice and snow, and Greenland without snowmobiles or dog sleds.
Moving in to warmer climates, he then crossed the Gobi Desert alone.
As time progresses, Messner now seems to have comfortably settled into a final role in his career of story-teller and communicator.
He has published almost 80 books about his experiences as a climber and explorer and won numerous awards, as well as delivering keynote speeches around the world.
A political official and founder of the Mountain Wilderness, a charity dedicated to protecting mountains, Messner has also dedicated himself to the Messner Mountain Museum.
The man is more than an explorer, he is a record-breaker, an artist in his field and a trailblazer.
He is the free-soloing elite rock climber, Alex Honnold, speed alpinist, Ueli Steck, and polar explorer, Earnest Shackleton, all rolled into one.