Books
Kurt Diemberger

Spirits of the Air

Kurt Diemberger belongs to an elite mountaineering club. He is one of only two climbers to have made first ascents of two 8,000-metre peaks – Broad Peak and Dhaulagiri. His Broad Peak ascent was the first eight-thousander climbed in alpine style without oxygen. He had climbed the major Alps north faces (the Eiger, Matterhorn and Grandes Jorasses) by 1958 and was awarded the fifth Piolets d'Or lifetime achievement award. But Diemberger's adventures revolve around more than climbing, as Spirits of the Air reveals. Of course, there is plenty of mountaineering – expeditions to Makalu and Everest, America and the Hindu Kush. But there are also rickety aeroplanes which inevitably crash, anacondas to wrestle and bar-room meetings with Reinhold Messner. And there is Diemberger's filmmaking. A pioneering filmmaker, he has shot on the top of Everest and in the Arctic circle, making several mountaineering film firsts and becoming one of the best cameramen of the genre. In Spirits of the Air Diemberger describes his life and adventures after the 1986 K2 disaster, which affected him greatly, and some earlier episodes. He reflects on the contrasts between his life in Europe and the always-beckoning Himalaya, and on family, loves and friendships. Describing his experiences with a tremendous zest for life that is both endearing and compelling, Diemberger creates a very readable and very different mountaineering autobiography.
441 printed pages
Original publication
2015

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