Hermann Buhl

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Hermann Buhl
Personal information
Nationality Austrian
Born (1924-10-21)21 October 1924
Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria
Died 27 June 1957(1957-06-27) (aged 32)
Chogolisa, Karakoram
Occupation Mountaineer
Climbing career
Known for Nanga Parbat first ascent
First ascents

Hermann Buhl (21 September 1924 – 27 June 1957) was an Austrian mountaineer, and is considered one of the best climbers of all time. He was particularly innovative in applying alpine style to Himalayan climbing. His accomplishments include:

  • 1953 First ascent of Nanga Parbat, 8,126 metres (26,660 ft) (solo and without bottled oxygen). On the way back from the summit he was forced to stand erect on a rock ledge for the entire night at 8000m altitude, in order to survive until the following morning.[1]
  • 1957 First ascent of Broad Peak, 8,051 metres (26,414 ft).

Before his successful Nanga Parbat expedition, 31 people had died trying to make the first ascent.

Buhl is the mountaineer to have made the first solo ascent of an eight-thousander. His climbing partner, Otto Kempter, was too slow in joining the ascent, so Buhl struck off alone. He returned 41 hours later, having barely survived the arduous climb to the summit, 4 miles distant from, and 4,000 feet higher than camp V. Experienced climbers, upon hearing later of Buhl's near-death climb, faulted him for making the attempt solo. Regardless, his monumental efforts, along with spending the night untethered, on the edge of a 60 degree ice slope, standing on a tiny pedestal too small to squat upon, have become mountaineering legend.

Just a few weeks after the successful first ascent of Broad Peak (with Fritz Wintersteller and Marcus Schmuck), Buhl and Kurt Diemberger made an attempt on nearby, unclimbed Chogolisa (7665 m) in alpine style. Buhl lost his way in an unexpected snow storm and walked over a huge cornice on the southeast ridge, near the summit of Chogolisa II (7654 m; also known as Bride Peak), subsequently triggering an avalanche which hurled him down 900 m over Chogolisa's north face. His body could not be recovered and remains in the ice.

Early life[edit]

Buhl was born in Innsbruck, the youngest of four children. After the death of his mother, he spent years in an orphanage. Before Scouting was banned in Austria Hermann Buhl was a Cub Scout in Innsbruck. In the 1930s, as a sensitive (and not very healthy) teenager, he began to climb the Austrian Alps. In 1939, he joined the Innsbruck chapter of the Deutscher Alpenverein (the German Alpine association) and soon mastered climbs up to category 6. He was a member of the Mountain rescue team in Innsbruck (Bergrettung Innsbruck).

World War II interrupted his commercial studies, and he joined the Alpine troops, mostly on the Monte Cassino. After being taken prisoner by American troops, he returned to Innsbruck and earned his living doing odd jobs. At the end of the 1940s, he finally completed his training as a mountain guide.


  • Buhl, Hermann (1956). Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage. Hodder & Stoughton. ASIN B0000CJH7J. 
  • Buhl, Hermann (1999). Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage: The Lonely Challenge. Seattle, WA, USA.: Mountaineers Books. ISBN 0-89886-610-3. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "9 Legendary Bivoacs". Adventure Journal. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Austria Othmar Schneider
Austrian Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by
Austria Rupert Hollaus