Ludwig Purtscheller

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Ludwig Purtscheller
Personal information
Born(1849-10-06)6 October 1849
Innsbruck, Austrian Empire
Died3 March 1900(1900-03-03) (aged 50)
Bern, Switzerland
Occupation(s)Mountaineer, teacher
Climbing career
Known for
The 'bad step' on the Aiguille Méridionale d’Arves showing L. Purtscheller and Karl Blodig. Illustration by E.Compton, 1895.

Ludwig Purtscheller (6 October 1849 – 3 March 1900) was an Austrian mountaineer and teacher.

Purtscheller pioneered climbing without a mountain guide, who in the 19th century did all the route finding and lead climbing. By the end of his life he had recorded climbing over 1,700 mountains. A celebrated climb was the traverse of the Meije together with the Zsigmondy brothers in 1885, which to this date is considered a classic alpine route. He is best known as the first European to ascend Kilimanjaro in 1889, together with the German mountaineer Hans Meyer.

After a descent of the Aiguille du Dru with G. Löwenbach and Jakob Oberhollenzer on 25 August 1899, an ice axe broke and the rope team fell into a bergschrund. Purtscheller was injured and he was transferred to a hospital in Geneva and later Bern. After several months of recovery, he contracted pneumonia and died on the approximate date of his planned return home. In a eulogy, the American climber and mountain historian W.A.B. Coolidge called him "the greatest mountaineer who had ever lived".[1]


  1. ^ Fritz Schmitt, Ludwig Purtscheller, Bergsteiger, July 1984