December 8, 2023

Reinhold Messner criticizes the Guinness World Records’ withdrawal of his world records

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The Guinness Book stripped Reinhold Messner of his world records: he was not said to have been the first person to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders. In the interview, the mountaineering legend commented.

Instead, American Edmund Viestors is now considered the first to have climbed all the “true 8,000-metre peaks”, because the peaks were given a new basis for calculation. No wonder Messner was angry – not because he was sad about his records, he tells our newspaper, but because “99.9 percent of all involved in this story have no idea about climbing mountains and peaks. No one could imagine the dimensions there!”

The Guinness Book recognizes the world records set by Reinhold Messner

The Guinness publishing house recently updated its mountain records because a German statistician and mountain historian recalculated the locations of the eight-thousander peaks: Eberhard Jurgalski from Lörrach has been evaluating digital geodata from the German Aerospace Center as well as summit photographs for years. He came to the conclusion that at least three of the 14 eight-thousander peaks had been incorrectly positioned so far – and that record climbers had never actually been at the summit.

Reinhold Messner with his herd of yaks in Sölden am Oertler. © Sami Minkoff

Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander were not actually on Annapurna in 1985, but they would have turned around about 65 meters before the finish. So, Messner could not have been on the highest mountains in the world, and would lose his first two records on all eight thousand mountains and first on all eight thousand mountains without oxygen. And not only him: the ascents of Edorn Pasaban, the first woman to climb all 8,000 mountains, and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who climbed all 8,000 mountains without oxygen, are now classified as “obsolete.” Jurgalski’s coordinate games sweep through entire mountain legends.

Messner confirms: “Of course we were at the top.”

For Messner, it is quite clear that he and Kammerlander were on the summit of Annapurna. “Of course we were at the summit,” he says, “You can’t miss it when you come out of the northwest face. That’s a relatively flat spot. We were able to look out over the south face and saw the exit points for rides that had gone up to the summit via other trails ahead of us. We were also able to connect briefly “We radioed to base camp to say we were at the summit. We also located ourselves using binoculars. There was no doubt.”

Mountaineer criticizes withdrawal of records

But can digital geospatial data lie? “There might be a different point five meters higher today than it was then, but you can’t measure that way,” he says. If the current highest point on the summit is a cornice (snow cliff, editor’s note), it cannot be reached. This is life threatening! You have to take the changing snow conditions into account.” To emphasize this aspect, Messner posted a photo of mountaineer Stephane Benoist at the Annapurna summit on his Instagram profile. The man sits at the highest point of the mountain – next to a huge tower that would be suicidal to climb. So it’s not Messner has nothing but contempt for the statistician Jorgalski, who is not a mountaineer himself. “He hasn’t been to Annapurna, he doesn’t know the mountain. Maybe he is confusing the East Peak with the West Peak. “He’s just doing his thing with her.”

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At 8,091 metres, Annapurna is the tenth highest peak out of 14 eight-thousand-metre mountains.
At 8,091 metres, Annapurna is the tenth highest peak out of 14 eight-thousand-metre mountains. © Wikipedia

In an interview with our newspaper, Messner explains what was really important to him at that time: “We were not the first climbers to look for records. That’s why you can’t take any records from me. Our goal was to overcome difficult walls without any aids. We were interested “Climbing mountains in the middle of the wilderness, and the journey was the goal. Today it’s all about being there. No matter how much it helps.”