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Freespirit: a Climber's Life [Paperback]

Reinhold Messner

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Book Description

1 Jan 1998
He is known as one of history's greates Himalayan mountaineers, a man who pushed back the frontiers of the possible for a whole generation of climbers. In his revealing autobiography Reinhold Messner reflects on his remarkable career. His story is more than a recounting of "firsts." Here Messner reveals the forces and events that have shaped him as an individual and as a climber--including his brother's tragic death on Nanga Parbat in 1970.Messner takes us from the days of his first climb of the Sass Rigais in the Dolomites with his father at age 5 to his later turning away from the overcrowded Alps and 8,000 meter-peaks to find fulfillment in the remoter parts of the world and in crossing the wastes of Antarctica. In between emerges the man as famous for his disciplined approach as for his innovative spirit. Messner evolved his philosophy of the single free-climbing line with its uncompromising purity of style in the Dolomites and, as equipment and technique developed, he was in the forefront of the transference of fast lightweight alpine methods to the great ranges. "Reinhold Messner: Free Spirit" puts the career of a mountaun pioneer in full perspective.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books; 1st U.S. Pbk. Ed edition (1 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898865735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898865738
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 757,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The alpine icon 4 Sep 2001
By Anthony M. Frasca - Published on
The achievements of Reinhold Messner are legendary. Among them, he is the first man to have ascended Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. He is also the first man to have climbed all fourteen 8000-meter peaks. Mr. Messner could rightfully be quite boastful and egotistic in his writing. Exactly the opposite is true. The book was panned by a number of reviewers for being "dry". This is precisely why I find the book so engaging and interesting. Mr. Messner narrates his achievements in a matter of fact manner leaving the reader to fill in the enormity of his spirit. Personally, I find the single-minded obsession of mountain climbers to be somewhat bizarre. Yet, I find reading about the tales of misery and death to be entertaining. I admire Mr. Messner for his unbridled enthusiam for mountain climbing and also for his restraint in narrating the tales.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Story About An Obsessed Mountaneer 10 Jan 1997
By A Customer - Published on
It spans all the climbs of Reinhold Messner from his younger days in Alps to his fabulous Himalayan conquests. The book also has beautiful photographs of the great peaks of the world. The book is such that after the first few chapters you can skip back and forth to any climbs of your interest. His later climbs offer more gripping adventures; especially his climb to "Nanga Parbat" and his solo ascent of "Mt. Everest" without oxygen.
A must for any person with a sense of adventure.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shades of Sinatra albeit a present tense -- "I do it my way!" 19 Dec 2008
By Anthony J. Lomenzo - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I note that various reviewers tend to use the words "dry" and "dull" when commenting on this book but then the man is commenting on a veritable lifetime of climbing events and, of some cogence, Reinhold Messner is generally not one for extended wordage embellishments where, how to put it, the reader is suddenly transported 'on the rope' with him or via the wordage [and well noting that it's translated from the German to begin with] 'feel the cold' or experience the elations/frustrations kind of thing. He relates the climb, comments on its joys or, conversely, its vexations and problems, and simply moves on.

Now, on the personal side of things and noting that my remarks here are purely 'subjective' in nature: Mention the name 'Reinhold Messner' and you're bound to get a mixed bag input about the guy. But certain words or phrases do seem to keep popping up, viz., "the greatest climber of them all", "arrogant", "argumentative", "quick to temper", "unforgiving", "Nanga Parbat, 1970" [!], "the first 8,000'er" [** the first man to climb all the world's 14 highest mountains over 8,000 meters], "Yeti believer" [!], and one of my personal favorites and the erroneous 'accent' that goes with it, "What? An "I-talian" [!], you say? Ohhh, that can't be! He's gotta' be German or Austrian [pause] ... isn't he ... [another pause] ... isn't he? The name 'Reinhold' doesn't sound very 'I-talian' to me!" Bizzzz! He is Italian by birth albeit from the German speaking South Tyrol section of Italy. Hence German is his primary language. Ask Reinhold however about his roots and you'll probably get, "I'm a European!" [sic] and not to mention his known views on what "nationalism" per se, especially nationalism in its extreme form, has meant for Europe. This comment made when Messner was criticised for not 'producing the flag' when he solo-summited Everest. And to that, I would respond in German, "Der Stoff zum Nachdenken, was?" [** Basically, "Food for thought, what?"]

I think the 'problem' here is that some folks simply don't like Messner and it bothers them when world-wide accolades come pouring in as to Messner being termed the 'greatest climber', well, Messner, in their view, is simply "not humble enough" to verbally play down such accolades. Shades of the "Patton" flick when ol' Georgie Patton grumbles, "Hell, I 'admit' I'm a prima-donna! What I can't stand about 'Monty' is that he refuses to admit that he's one too!" Needless to say that in real life, Patton had his share of detractors for his oft cited "lack of humility." Ditto Messner.

But consider this -- for 35 years Messner had to defend himself against the 1970 'Nanga Parbat' climb and hear from various and sundry how he allegedly "left his brother Gunther to die" due to equally alleged "ego driven ambition" [sic] and it took until 2005 when the remains of Gunther Messner was found [subsequently DNA verified] where Messner said it would be [and the avalanche cause of death] to shut these critics up and prove that Reinhold did not 'abandon' his brother on the other side of the mountain face. The only thing left for perpetual Messner critics or, shall we say, ice axe grinders, is the 'yeti' thing with stories of Messner having "seen the abominable snowman" [!] and other such ridiculous wordage hype [** and in one case with regard to the 'abominable snowman' copy: "Perhaps repeated high altitude climbing without oxygen has finally caught up to Mr. Messner ... ."] when the description of whatever it was Messner saw was relegated 'by Messner' to a "nocturnal bear" [sic] species [of Tibet] but I suppose the 'abominable snowman' or 'multiple yeti sightings' rhetoric serves the purpose for those whose apparent goal is Messner ridicule ... now that Nanga Parbat [1970] has been duly put to bed.

So too, Messner, at least IMO, is a sort of analogous Frank Sinatra "I did and in fact 'do' it my way" type of guy and 'continues' to do things his way which, for some folks, apparently grates on their nerves. Or envy perhaps? The mountaineering accolades and the number of "firsts" a la the solo Everest summit without oxygen not to mention the many others and being the first 8,000'er as well as other adventures including both the North 'and' South Poles or the desert [Gobi and a "hike" [!] of some 2,000 kilometers], the top to bottom Greenland adventure, et al, the 5 years as a political MEP representing the 'Italian' South Tyrol, numerous books, successful lectures, the multiple mountaineering museums and initiator/curator functions therein [** and even there when Messner was informed -- "Why not put a museum [translation: ONE museum] in the "city" -- Why so far out of the way [!] and why 'multiple' museums ...?" yet they are now quite successful enterprises and exactly where Messner wanted them and in fact placed them! Again, his way! Read: "Mein Weg!" [** My way!]. Conclusion: Messner is his own man! And the kicker here: he doesn't have to 'shut up' simply because he in fact has amply 'put up' for the bulk of his long career! Some journalists who have interviewed Messner refer to him as "gruff" or one gem I spotted somewhere, "Messner seems to be perpetually sucking on lemons", well, perhaps so to the perspective of these journalists but then too when the spotlight is always on you and everyone and his proverbial brother/sister has a perceived 'take' on you, such 'takes' are going to vary from person to person. And thereby the target of such perceptions commenting on these 'takes' or 'findings' therein.

Look at the reception that Simon Yates [who I defended] sometimes gets or is introduced or otherwise referred to as "the man who cut the rope" [sic] while such critics or woefully uninformed TV types [et al] know absolutely nothing about the events on Siula Grande [or the fact that Joe Simpson dedicated his book "Touching the Void" to Simon Yates for saving his life] and/or dealing with often barbed questions from interviewers [** Example and in fact shown in the bonus extra material in the "Touching the Void" DVD, question put to Yates, "Don't you think that Simpson really wanted to say to you after you cut the rope, "you bas****" ... "] , hey, there 'are' times when catching an 'attitude' can become quite understandable. Ditto Reinhold Messner.

Doc Tony
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring 1 Jun 2013
By catsruletn - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I find this book to be really boring and am having trouble motivating myself to finish it. I guess if you are really into very intricate details about climbing this book might appeal to you but for me it just seems endless and repetitive. He gets into too much detail about where he placed his pitons and how many he used and how long it took him to get to this ledge or that etc. It just seems like him constantly repeating the same refrain; "the weather was good so we started climbing with this piton here and that piton there, then the weather got bad but we had to keep soldiering on, and then we finally made it". Not my thing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Added to my collection 12 Jan 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Messner writes like he climbed, blunt, honest and singleminded.
I have many of Messner's books in my mountaineering collection. In this one, along with lesser mountain stories like Kilimanjaro, he talks about his childhood and marrages. It may be my favorite.
I've been to a few high places but he's been to all of them.
He is one of my heroes. I even wear a Dzi Stone around my neck that I purchased in Namche Bazaar.
We need people to aspire too. Messner is one of mine.
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