Mountaineers Books BLOG

All the tid-bits and overall awesomeness surrounding our authors rounded up in one place.

Topher Donahue has all the best tips and advice on picking out a good climbing helmet. You can check it out here to read an excerpt from Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills.

We have tips too, but it really revolves around the concept of “heads squishy, giant rocks not.”

On September 17, 2014, in honor of Reinhold Messner’s 70th birthday, we posted a set of ten questions for our loyal readers to challenge themselves.

Here are the answers to the questions we posed.

1. Is there a North Tyrol? We will accept YES or NO as a correct answer. To justify NO, there is not a North Tyrol and a South Tyrol, as you would have North Dakota and South Dakota. And, to justify YES, there is Tyrol and South Tyrol, and the state of Tyrol is further split into two parts – the larger one being called North Tyrol and the smaller called East Tyrol. (We just wanted to make sure you had at least one point).
2. Messner was five. Bonus Answers: The range was The Dolomites. The mountain was Sass Rigais.

3. 60. Yes, Reinhold has published 60 books, or around there somewhere. Mountaineers Books has published SEVERAL of these titles. We don’t even know how many.

4. That line about frostbitten toes is NOT an actual Messner quote; we just made that one up. Messner wrote about the Yeti in ‘My quest for the Yeti.’

5. Annapurna, Everest, Nanga Parbat, K2, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Kangchenjunga, Manaslu, Lhotse,Gasherbrum Ii, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I, Dhaulagiri, Shishapangma

6. Jerzy Kuzkucka in 1987. Jerzy is featured in “Freedom Climbers” by Bernadette McDonald in the Legends and Lore series. American Dick Bass was the first person to climb the seven summits, using supplemental oxygen.

7. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. Mountaineers Books published her account of these trips, Mountains in My Heart, this spring. Give yourself a half-point if you said Edurne Pasaban, who was the first woman to climb the 14 8000 meter peaks but recall that she used oxygen on Everest. We also published Pasaban’s book, Tilting at Mountains, this spring. Arlene Blum led the 1978 all-woman ascent of Annapurna, a climb that was also the first successful American ascent.

8. This awesome photo was taken when RM was en route to Lhotse in 1975.
9. It was the Gobi. It was certainly not the Kakros, which at 2.6 square kilometers, is the smallest “desert” in the world, not technically a desert, and also it is in CANADA, so, like, how hot could it be? Definitely not tough enough for Messner.

10. The correct answer here is C. establish a museum. But, to be fair, it’s not just one museum, but six museums, and, as one might expect, they are pretty much the most bad-ass version of a museum that you could have. Messner’s six mountains museums are architectural masterpieces, each covering a different theme, such as “When Men Meet Mountains.” By the way, it was Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who spent 12 minutes in open space.

Time to tabulate your score. How did you do?

More than 20 points: You have done well at this, very well indeed. You should probably become a Legends and Lore series supporter.

10 to 19 points: It’s clear you’re into high-altitude mountaineering, but maybe you are just not a Messner-maniac. You might enjoy reading other accounts of quests to climb all 14 8,000m peaks, such as our recent releases from Edurne Pasaban and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner.

Less than 10 points: Good effort. Consider picking up a book or two from the Legends and Lore series to take your arcane high-altitude mountaineering knowledge to new heights.

Reinhold Messner, widely regarded as the greatest mountain climber and explorer in history, turns 70 today.

Mountaineers Books is proud to have published books by and about Reinhold Messner before, and this September, we’re adding two new Reinhold Messner books, Free Spirit and My Life at the Limit, to our Legends and Lore series, a curated collection of the most inspiring mountain literature.

Could there be a better time to reflect on Messner’s lifetime of climbing achievement than right this minute???

Certainly not.

Get ready to challenge yourself with some high-altitude trivia. Here are three warm-up questions to get you started.


If you answered “MESSNER!” to all these questions, good for you! If you answered “Messner, with Peter Habeler, in 1978;” “Messner in 1980;” and “Messner in 1986”— we’re impressed.

1. Reinhold Messner was born in South Tyrol, an autonomous province in northern Italy. Is there such a thing as North Tyrol? (1 pt)

2. How old was Reinhold when he climbed his first peak? (1 pt) Looking for bonus points? Already? Okay! In what mountain range was this? (1 pt) What was the peak? (1 pt)

3. How many books has Reinhold Messner authored? (1 pt) a. 4 b. 14 c. 60

4. As an author and frequent interviewee, Messner has had many opportunities to share his philosophy, approach, and thoughts on the climbing and life. Which one of the following is NOT an actual Messner quote? (1 pt) a. “Frostbitten toes are inconvenient, but they are not ultimately needed for climbing. A sturdy pair of boots will kick in solid steps whether or not there are toes in them. Fingers, of course, are more important. Gripping certain small holds is really impossible without them. Guard your fingers well.” b. “A well-placed peg “sings” as it goes in. If it goes in too quickly, forget it. If it makes a dull, feeble noise, it won’t hold. But if it sings as it goes in, it will hold. A few thousand kilos and more.” c. “So when I start to climb, I am so concentrated that there is nothing else existing. In this concentration, everything seems quite logical. The danger is gone. But the concentration is absolute.” d. “The Yeti is an extraordinary animal – fearsome and preternaturally intelligent.”

5. Name all 14 of the peaks over 8,000 meters. (1 pt each) Bonus points: List them in order of first ascent, not elevation. (3 pts)

6. We know Messner was the first person to climb all of these peaks over 8,000 meters. The second person to do so without supplemental oxygen was … ? (1 pt) a. Polish climber Jerzy Kuzkucka b. Swiss mountain climber Erhard Loretan c. American Dick Bass

7. Although Reinhold proved it was possible to climb Everest without it, to do this day, most climbers continue to use supplemental oxygen to scale the world’s tallest peak. Who was the first woman to reach the 14 highest summits without supplemental oxygen? Was it … (1 pt) a. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner b. Edurne Pasaban c. Arlene Blum

8. Name the peak Messner was climbing and the year this awesome photo was taken. (2 pts possible)

9. After summiting all of the world’s tallest peaks, what’s left? For Reinhold, it was time to move on long and arduous solo expeditions. In 2004, at the age of 60, Reinhold trekked solo across which world dessert, was it … (1 pt) a. The Sahara b. The Gobi c. The Atacama d. The Kakros

10. When you have already scaled peaks on every continent, climbed over 8,000 meters elevation without supplemental oxygen and trekked across Antarctica … what would be the next most badass thing you could do? Would it be: (1 pt) a. Bungee jump into lava-filled caldera b. Spend 12 minutes in utterly open space c. Establish a museum

And, check back tomorrow, when we’ll post our answers to these trivia questions. Until then, we remind you that using the “internets” or consulting books to answer these questions would be akin to using supplemental oxygen and high altitude porters to climb Everest. Sure, you could, but where’s the challenge?

Gene Yore, co-author of Guide to 100 Peaks in Mount Rainier National Park, completed his 100th peak at Mount Rainier National Park alongside his family and friends.
Selfie of Steve and Gene by Steve McClure
UPDATE Gene Yore talks about Mt. Rainier from the summit of Dewey Peak.