Climber from Dolomites who conquered Everest
|Reinhold Messner, pictured in 2012 at Castel Juval,|
one of the sites of his Messner Mountain Museum
Messner was also the first man to ascend every one of the world's 14 peaks that rise to more than 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) above sea level.
His 1976 ascent of Everest with the Austrian climber Peter Habeler defied numerous doctors and other specialists in the effects of altitude who insisted that scaling the world's highest mountain without extra oxygen was not possible.
Born only 45km from Italy's border with Austria, Messner grew up speaking German and Italian and has also become fluent in English. His father, Josef, introduced him to climbing and took him to his first summit at the age of five. He soon became familiar with all the peaks of the Dolomites.
From a family of 10 children - nine of them boys - Messner shared his passion for adventure with brothers Günther and Hubert, with whom he would later cross the Arctic. He and Günther, two years his junior, began climbing together when Reinhold was 13 and by their early 20s were among the best climbers in Europe.
|The Rupal face of Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas, on the |
descent from which Messner's brother Günther sadly died.
Messner's motivation for attempting Mount Everest without taking supplies of bottled oxygen stemmed from his belief that climbs assisted in that way were not true tests of human capability, that in a way it was cheating. He pledged that he would ascend Everest "by fair means or not at all." Having succeeded once, he repeated the feat from the Tibetan side in 1980, which gave him the distinction of achieving Everest's first solo summit.
|Reinhold Messner pictured at Everest base camp|
Messner, who has crossed Antarctica on skis, has written 63 books, which include his autobiography Free Spirit: A Climber's Life, his Everest account The Crystal Horizon: Everest – The First Solo Ascent and All 14 Eight-thousanders, all published by Mountaineers Books.
As well as climbing, Messner became interested in politics and from 1999 to 2004 he was Member of the European Parliament for the Italian Green Party (Federazione dei Verdi).
Nowadays, he devotes much of his time to the Messner Mountain Museum project, which consists of five museums in his home region of Alto Adige, established to help educate visitors about the science and history of mountaineering and rock climbing.
The small city of Bressanone - Brixen in German - became part of Italy only at the end of the First World War. It is characteristically German in its culture, with three quarters of the population of 21,500 speaking German as a first language. Located in a valley where the Eisack and Rienz rivers meet, it is shadowed on one side by Monte Telegrafo (2,504m) and on the other by Monte Pascolo (2,436m).
|The Piazza Vescovile in Bressanone with the two towers|
of the Cathedral in the background
The third largest city in one of the richest regions in Italy, Bressanone has a cathedral that was rebuilt along Baroque lines in the 18th century but originates in the 10th century, and an unusual round Church of Saint Michael that was built in the 11th century with a Gothic bell tower added in the 15th century. Bressanone is a stop on the railway line from Verona in Italy to Innsbruck in Austria.
Walter Bonatti - outstanding career marred by 50-year row
(Photo of Nanga Parbat by Daniel Martin GFDL 1.2)
(Photo at Everest base camp by Sanjay Kodain CC NY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Piazza in Bressanone by Sailko CC BY-SA 3.0)