Erhard Loretan

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Erhard Loretan (28 April 1959 – 28 April 2011) was a Swiss mountain climber, often described as one of the greatest mountaineers of all times.


Loretan was born in Bulle in the canton of Fribourg. He trained as a cabinet maker (1979) and mountain guide (1981).

Loretan was the third person to climb all 14 eight-thousanders (second without oxygen), a feat he accomplished at the age of 36. He made his first expedition to the Andes in 1980 and began climbing the eight-thousanders in 1982 with an ascent of Nanga Parbat. Thirteen years later, in 1995, he climbed the last of them, Kangchenjunga. Loretan took the principles of climbing fast and light in the Alps and applied them to the biggest mountains on Earth.[1] In 1984, he did a first ascent of Annapurna (8091m) by the 7km long east ridge with Norbert Joos and descended via the north side, a traverse that has never been repeated.[2] In 1986, together with Jean Troillet, Loretan made a revolutionary ascent of Mount Everest in only 40 hours, climbing by night and without the use of supplementary oxygen.[3] In 1988, he completed a new route with Voytek Kurtyka on the Nameless Tower (6239m), Trango Towers, Pakistan. In 1994, he made a solo first ascent of Mt Epperly (4508m) in Antarctica’s Sentinel Range. While making the ascent, he noticed a nameless peak, c4800m, steeper and more difficult than Epperly. In autumn 1995, after climbing Kangchenjunga (his fourteenth 8000m mountain), Loretan returned to Antarctica and made a first solo ascent of this peak, which has been named Peak Loretan.[4]

Loretan was convicted in 2003 of the manslaughter of his seven-month-old son, after shaking him for a short period of time to stop him crying in late 2001.[3] He was given a four-month suspended sentence.[5] At that time shaken baby syndrome (SBS) was largely unknown, but he decided to disclose his name to the press in the hope that other parents might avoid a similar tragedy. Publicity of the case raised awareness of the danger of shaking children due to their weak neck muscles.

The Fiescherhorn and Grünhorn in the Alps

In April 2011, Loretan and his partner Xenia Minder were climbing the Grünhorn in the Swiss Alps when Minder slipped. The rope tying them together dragged them both down 200m. Minder was airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries, but Loretan did not survive.[6] He died on his 52nd birthday.[3]

Climbing history[edit]

Peak Year
Nanga Parbat 1982
Gasherbrum II 1983
Gasherbrum I 1983
Broad Peak 1983
Manaslu 1984
Annapurna 1984
K2 1985
Dhaulagiri 1985
Mount Everest 1986
Cho Oyu 1990
Shisha Pangma 1990
Makalu 1991
Lhotse 1994
Kangchenjunga 1995

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Erhard Loretan obituary". the Guardian. 2011-05-04. Retrieved 2021-12-17.
  2. ^ "AAC Publications - Alone on Annapurna". Retrieved 2021-12-17.
  3. ^ a b c "Famed Swiss climber Erhard Loretan dies in fall in Alps". BBC News. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  4. ^ "Alpine Journal". Retrieved 2021-12-17.
  5. ^ "Erhard Loretan, Top Climber, Dies at 52". The New York Times. 2011-04-30. p. D7. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  6. ^ "Swiss climber's lover describes final moments before his death". BBC News. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-04-29.

External links[edit]