History of Mountaineering

                         The history of Mountaineering

Participation in the art of mountaineering changes people's life. Currently there are several mountain sports that, in one way or another, are part of mountaineering, even though they are very different from each other. With appropriate concepts and techniques, it is necessary to establish some parameters.
For sure, human being had been walking in the mountains for a long time. There were people living in regions like the Alps (Europe), Himalaya(Nepal-Tibet-India-Pakistan etc), Karakorum (little Tibet Pakistan, Tashkurqan China Ladakh India & Kashmir region) and Hindukush known as Pamir  (Afganistan, Chitral) Therefore, the philosophical practice of mountaineering (going to the mountains) has been practiced by humans for a long time. However, what is taken into consideration by historians is; mountaineering is the fact of climbing high mountains, that required different ascending and descending techniques.

Early Mountaineering

Some isolated cases of mountaineering occurred in the years 1300 and 1400 AD, for non-recreational or non-sporting purposes, such as religion and meteorology. The most notable was the first ascent of Mont Aiguille (2,085 m) in 1492. The ascent was designed by Charles VIII of France , who ordered his military engineer Antoine de Ville to climb the “inaccessible mountain“, which we now know as Mont Aiguille. This is considered the first European climb in history and this climb is considered the ground zero of world mountaineering.

The reason for wanting to conquer mountain peaks, until then considered virgin, has a reason: military strategy. For this reason, Antoine de Ville, who was in the military, was chosen. The team armed themselves with ladders and ropes and reached the top. The group hoped to find deities, but instead found only a meadow full of flowers. The group stayed on the summit for six days, performed a mass in an improvised hut and raised three crosses as proof of their achievement.
The Mont Aiguille was not climbed again until 1834, because in 1700 people still beginning to develop the fascination of mountain climbing. But the practice was still seen as a military activity, not exactly a sport. It was only for the nobility that mountaineering began to be seen as a sporting activity.

Golden Age of Mountaineering

Mid-eighteenth century, climbers gathered in the Alps and made the first climbs of practically all the main peaks in the region. The expeditions were predominantly led by British climbers and accompanied by Swiss or French guides. Several key figures from the golden age of mountaineering appeared at this time, such as John Tyndall (Irish physicist and mountaineer), and Leslie Stephen (author and mountaineer).
It was during this decade that the Alpine Club of Great Britain was founded (1857). In addition, during this period, mountaineering became a fashionable sport among the nobility, with official guides and increasingly technical equipment. In the mid-19th century, the Swiss developed a circle of guides whose leadership helped make mountaineering a distinct sport, as they guided peak after peak across central Europe.
However, in 1870, all the main alpine peaks had been climbed, and climbers began to look for new, more difficult routes, on peaks outside the European continent. Therefore, in the late 19th century, climbers turned their attention to the Andes (South America), the Rocky Mountains (North America), the Caucasus (eastern Europe and western Asia), Africa and, finally, the Himalayas.
The theocentric view of the Middle Ages was perhaps the one that most scared off the mountain adventurers. At this time, it was believed in Europe that monsters and dragons lived in the mountains. At this same time, in America not yet found by Colombo, some indigenous tribes gathered at the foot of a volcano, where the land was fertile. Inside a lake they built a citadel. The lake was named Texcoco, and the citadel Tenochtlán. 

 Modern Mountaineering

Mountaineering was organized. In the second half of the 19th century, schools of mountain guides began to form and rivalries between schools and countries also began. After almost all the important mountains climbed in Eurpe, a race began for those who climbed the most distant and highest mountain. Sponsored by imperial governments, mountaineers began to explore the Andes, the Himalayas and Africa. 
The first world war interrupted the realization of great expeditions, but at the end of the conflict, sponsored by the power of the time that aimed to overcome its influence and importance in the world, England, the challenge was raised to reach the summit of the highest mountain in the world. England had lost the race to reach the north pole. The attempt to reach the south pole had been a complete disaster and the empire had been humiliated by the Norwegian Amundsen who won this exploratory race. The Everst was seen for the British Empire as a chance to rebuild patriotism and raise British morale.

                              George Mallory's expedition to Everest 

For such a mission, the British Empire had the brilliant climber George Leigh Mallory. For England to climb Everest was a mission, an order. For Mallory it was an obsession, a wish. Mallory once commented to an American journalist with all his English elegance and formality, his desire to climb the highest mountain in the world.
ated by the Norwegian Amundsen who won this exploratory race. The Everst was seen for the British Empire as a chance to rebuild patriotism and raise British morale.
Mallory participated in 3 mountain expeditions. At first, he practically just discovered the access path, from Darjeeling in India to the north face of the mountain in Tibet. On the second attempt, a year later in 1922, he managed to break the altitude record at the time, reaching over 8100 meters! However, a tragedy closed the expedition when an avalanche swallowed seven Sherpas. Two years later, Mallory organized his last expedition. In need of victory, Mallory and young Andrew Irvine left Camp 6 at dawn on June 8, 1924, never to return. Even though he died in his attempt, it is still unclear what happened to English climbers.
Before World War II, few expeditions returned to the Himalayas. In one of them, Englishmen found Mallory's picket at 8400 meters above sea level, but they were also unlucky enough to reach the coveted summit of Everest. On another notable expedition, a team of Nazi-axis climbers attempted to climb the 8125-meter Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. However, before they were able to climb, they were arrested by British officers and sent to a concentration camp in northern India.
This expedition was attended by the legendary Austrian climber Heinrich Harrer , who fled India and took refuge in Tibet. Harrer's story recently became a Hollywood film: "Seven years in Tibet".
 Ending World War II. France, which had been destroyed in the conflict, and was experiencing an international identity crisis, decides to sponsor an expedition to reach the summit of a mountain of eight thousand meters. The expedition had a great political acceptance and soon the best climbers in the country went to the west of Nepal to climb a mountain, that they did not know if it was going to be the Annapurna of 8091 meters or the Dhaulagiri of 8167 meters, located opposite each other.
The criteria for choosing between the two eight thousand meter mountains to be conquered, depended on the accessibility to them and the ease and safety of the chosen route. They ended up electing Annapurna, after almost two months of exploring the land.
They ended up reaching the summit Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal on June 3, 1950. For the first time, the man touches the summit of a mountain of eight thousand meters. However, at what price! Herzog and Lachenal reach the summit the day a monsoon reached the Himalayas. They get stuck in a crevice, suffer from an avalanche and have to bivouac more than 7 thousand meters.
When they descend, they begin to suffer in order to return to civilization, there are 5 weeks of trails and an indescribable suffering. Herzog loses all his fingers gangrenized by freezing, and has to amputate them cold, in precarious conditions.
In 1953, in a post-war climate where the main ex-powers were trying to regain their hegemony, the British decided to try Everest again. This time, they hire experienced Sherpas and took their best climbers.
After a long phase of acclimatization in stages, John Hunt's expedition finally reaches Everest's southern lap. Composing a second attempt team to the summit, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and the sirdar sherpa Tenzing Norgay stand out and manage to set up a camp on the South col, thus being the highest camp ever established, at 8500 meters of altitude. Suspicious and afraid, Norgay and Hillary set out on the morning of May 29, 1953, to take the summit.
After overcoming a complex stretch of rock and ice, which would later be called the Hillary echelon, they unexpectedly reach the summit. That was how finally, at 11:30 am on May 29, 1953, the human being reached the highest point on earth. On the same day, Elizabeth II is crowned Queen of England. In appreciation, the queen ordered the New Zealand beekeeper to be named "Sir".
Hillary and Tenzing's achievement erased an even greater achievement. On July 3 of the same year, a young Austrian man left his tent at Camp 5, at 6900 meters above sea level and, alone, contrary to the orders of the team leader, left towards the highest point of Nanga Parbat, which is considered by many the most difficult eight thousand of the 14 that exist. This Austrian was Herman Buhl .
Buhl reached the top of the mountain at dusk the same day. He had to bivouac more than eight thousand meters and returned with only a few freezes. Buhl was one of the most influential climbers of his time and his climb is as important to the mountain world as it is to conquer the highest mountain in the world. However, too much promotion and speculation about Everest obscure these great achievements.
In the year that followed, other eight thousand mountains were being climbed. French (some of Herzog's 50s) conquer Makalu, Italians K2 . Little by little the biggest mountains in the world were being overcome. Other great mountaineering feats therefore took place on the other side of the world.
In 1953, Lionel Terray , also a former companion of Herzog, overcomes the icy and dangerous walls of Cerro Fitz Roy , at the end of the Patagonian world, until then considered impossible to climb. The climatic and environmental difficulties of the mountain were the biggest obstacles to be overcome, in addition to the almost 1500 vertical meters of rock and ice to be climbed.
In the onslaught, the climber Jacques Poincenot was a victim of the wild nature of Patagonia, died dragged by the current of a river. Terray's suffering caused his climb to be portrayed in his literary masterpiece, which was named " The Conquerors of the Useless ".
On the way back to France, Terray also passed through Mendoza and designed the first climb on the south side of Aconcagua. Climbing carried out a year later by another French team led by the guide Lucién Berardini, which took seven days to reach the summit, performing one of the greatest Andean feats. The base camp on this side of the mountain was named Plaza Francia in honor of this brave French team.
Five years later, also in Argentina, the Italian Cesare Maestri and the Austrian Toni Egger reach the summit of Cerro Torre , an imposing granite tower next to the Fitz Roy. On the way down, the pair is hit by an avalanche and Egger is dragged down the wall. Maestri is rescued almost lifeless. Few believed in the conquest of the duo, and Maestri is ridiculed by climbers from his own country!
Maestri returns to the mountain in 1970 motivated to prove that he is capable of climbing the imposing mountain. This time he takes a giant and heavy compressor to drill the wall and fix the security points. Undoubtedly, Maestri becomes the first to reach the summit of Cerro Torre, but his climb was not considered ethical for the entire alpine community and is refuted by almost everyone.

Three years later Casimiro Ferrari returns to Cerro Torre and reaches the summit using traditional methods. Which made many consider him the first, in fact, to climb the mountain. After the climbs on the South Face of Aconcagua and the incidents in Patagonia, one thing is clear for mountaineering. It doesn't matter if you made it to the summit, what matters is where you got to, and how! Ethics and personal skills are what start to be worth more than the summits you have achieve sport specializes. At the end of the 70s, a generation of equipment arises that allows climbers to overcome technical problems that were previously impossible. There are mountaineers who start to develop the rock climbing part better, and others in high mountains, with ice and altitude. Great names and individual achievements emerge, especially in the Himalayas, which was based on teamwork to achieve the great 8 thousand meters.
The South Tyrolean Reinhold Messner is the one who best identifies himself with this phase, in which the man managed to overcome challenges previously considered impossible and until today has been rarely repeated. In 1978, Messner put his project into practice and decided to scale Everest without supplemental oxygen. After 4 days from the base, Messner reaches the summit of Everest, thus proving to mankind, that the human being does survive, at almost 9000 meters of altitude.
In addition to Everest, he was the first to climb an eight thousand in alpine style (Gashebrum I), the first to make a crossing between two eight thousand (Gashebrum I and II), the first to make a completely solo ascent to an eight thousand, (Nanga Parbat), and the first to climb all eight thousand, and without oxygen. He did even more, climbed the 7 highest peaks of each continent, crossed Greenland and Antarctica on foot! Messner became the “Pele” of the mountain. Controversial, he is adored by some and hated by others.
In one of his most impressive achievements, Messner climbed the Nanga Parbat Rupal Face, one of the most inhumane climbs ever made. On the way down, his brother passed away and Messner was blamed by many for the accident. In another curious incident, Messner said he saw and followed a "Big Foot". He even went on an expedition in search of the “ Yeti ”, as the Orientals call the legendary creature.
Gradually, needless to say, almost all the mountains in the world have been unraveled. There are few taller and beautiful walls that have remained untouched. The inevitable happened. After everything had been achieved, sponsorship were running out. In order to make a living from climbing, some climbers entered a vicious and deadly cycle, in which to stand out they had to face increasingly impossible challenges, until the mountain won.
Almost all climbers, to continue having their lives in the mountains, started to live as guides or climbing agents. The mountain began to be explored for tourism. The effort to continue living on the sport and the latest technology equipment, started to allow anyone to reach the summit of even, Everest. To climb it today, anyone can join commercial expeditions and pay for the ascent as if it were a tour package.
Obviously, this increase in the flow of climbers has had serious impacts on nature. In the most famous mountains, where there are more people, the camps are almost unhealthy. The trails are saturated with people and draft animals that carry the mountaineers' equipment, which only helps to silt the rivers and compromise all their enormous hinterland. Not to mention the increase in accidents, often caused by inexperienced mountaineers, as was the famous case of the 1996 Everest tragedy, and as they occur every year in much easier mountains such as Mont Blanc and Aconcagua.
The achievements of the new generation of climbers end up becoming those of climbing the mountains along the most different routes and ways possible. Some go because they would become the first in their countries to conquer the summits, while others go to break speed records. People become the only ones to descend Everest by paragliding or even snowboarding. Countless fatalities happen and the number of deaths on the mountain explodes. Alarmed by the consequences, scientists warn of the dangers of destroying these fragile environments, which in no way was made for human habitation, but which arouses so much interest in us.
Because of this, the UN declared 2002 as the international year of the mountain. We have reached the present, and mountaineering appears divided into several strands and styles. Finally, to be able to evaluate climbers and create competitions, sport climbing was created, and then indoor climbing, imitating the artificial walls of a rocky escarpment. In our urban industrial world, major equipment brands are major sponsors of the sport.
An increasing number of practitioners has been growing year after year. The mountains have never been so full, it is true, but there have never been so many climbers who have never been to a mountain. Another paradox of the modern world.
Standing out in this more than explored medium is difficult. For climbers of the 21st century, it is enough to be aware of their actions on the mountain. Learning from the past, we must avoid mistakes and seek solutions so that mountaineering has a future, and that preferably, in this future the mountaineer finds a mountain as in the past the pioneers found, a territory free, wild and ready for new adventures, as it should never have stopped being.
“Those who grew up in the mountains can live for years in the city, develop scientific work and enrich their intelligence, but what they cannot do is remain forever down there. When he sees the sun appear among the clouds and feels the wind on his face, he feels like a child with new adventures in the mountains. This is exactly what happens to me"
Karakorum Pakistan

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