Reinhold Messner, born in 1944 and raised in the South Tyrol's Villnöss Valley among the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy, is simply one of the greatest mountaineers of the 20th century. Is famous for making the first documented solo ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.

Messner's Climbing Resume

Solo first ascents on the great faces of the Dolomite mountains in northern Italy.
The forbidding North Face (Nordwand) of Switzerland's Eiger climbed in a quick 10 hours with Peter Habeler in 1974.
The first person, along with partner Habeler, to climb Mount Everest, highest mountain in the world, without supplemental oxygen in 1978.
The first solo ascent of Mount Everest in 1980, and by a new route!
The first person to climb all fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, the world's highest mountains.
The second person to climb the Seven Summits, the highest points on the seven continents.
Later Messner made expeditions to the North and South Poles, crossed the Gobi Desert in central Asia on foot; and researched and wrote a book about the infamous Yeti.

Reinhold Messner quotes

"Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous."

“Not only during the ascent, but also during the descent my willpower is dulled. The longer I climb the less important the goal seems to me, the more indifferent I become to myself. My attention has diminished, my memory is weakened. My mental fatigue is now greater than the bodily. It is so pleasant to sit doing nothing--and therefore so dangerous. Death through exhaustion is like death
through freezing--a pleasant one.”

"Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible."

"My market value increases with every outside critisism. Therefore, the frequently raised contention that I am the most highly critisized mountaineer does not disturb me in the slightest."

"I do this for myself because I am my own fatherland, and my handkerchief is my flag."

"I always take the same perspective with each new adventure. I put myself in the position of being at the end of my life looking back. Then I ask myself if what I am doing is important to me."

"In my state of spiritual abstraction, I no longer belong to myself and to my eyesight. I am nothing more than a single narrow gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits."

"Bolts are the murder of the impossible."

“When I rest I feel utterly lifeless except that my throat burns when I draw breath... I can scarcely go on. No despair, no happiness, no anxiety. I have not lost the mastery of my feelings, there are actually no more feelings. I consist only of will. After each few meters this too fizzles out in unending tiredness. Then I think nothing. I let myself fall, just lie there. For an indefinite time I remain completely irresolute. Then I make a few steps again.”

"I was in continual agony; I have never in my life been so tired as on the summit of Everest that day. I just sat and sat there, oblivious to everything...."

"If you have a high-way on Everest, you don't meet the mountain. If everything is prepared, and you have a guide who is responsible for your security, you cannot meet the mountain. Meeting mountains is only possible if you . . . are out there in self-sufficiency."

"I want to solve a climbing problem in the mountains, not in the sporting goods store."

"The wonderful things in life are the things you do, not the things you have."

"...seen from above, landscapes are made up of mountains and watercourses. Just as a transparent model of the human body consists of a framework of bone and a network of arteries, the earth's crust is structured in mountain ridges, river, creeks, and gullies."

"Mountaineering has become part of tourism. Today you can buy an ascent of Everest like you can buy a trip to Rome. You can buy the summit and be taken there as a tourist, but you cannot buy the experience I had or that [Edmund] Hillary or Chris Bonnington had [1953 first ascent of Mount Everest; 1975 ascent of Everest Southwest Face]. Real mountaineering means that you--or you and your partner--are solely responsible for what you do and the decisions you take. It is completely different.”

"Over time, our only chance at safety will depend on not turning the mountains into Disneyland."

"I didn’t go up there to die. I went up there to live."

More climbing quotes...