The Kurt Diemberger Omnibus
Spirits of the Air, Summits and Secrets and the award winning The Endless Knot
- Kurt Diemberger
- Hardback (864pp)
- 05 Mar 1998
Kurt Diemberger is a the only person alive to have made first ascents on two 8,000-metre peaks – Dhaulagiri and Broad Peak – and he is recognised as one of the finest chroniclers of his contemporary mountaineering scene. His books have popular around the world and his writing is guaranteed to enlighten, move and entertain.
As a fantastic mountaineer and career expeditioner, and a skilled filmmaker and writer he has been a witness to 50 years of eventful Alpinism and Himalayan climbing. He gives us a link to the golden age when the 8000-metre peaks were first climbed – in the 1950s and early 60s.
The Kurt Diemberger Omnibus brings together three fine books, one of which, The Endless Knot, is perhaps the most gripping and tragic mountaineering saga ever written. It describes the ill-starred K2 attempts of 1986 during which thirteen climbers died in a variety of incidents. At the end of the season seven climbers made one last bid to gain the summit, five succeeded but, overtaken by a storm during the descent, only two of the seven climbers survived. One of them was Diemberger, who describes events with harrowing candour.
Summits and Secrets deals with Diemberger’s early climbs in the Alps, the Hindu Kush and the Himalaya. It describes the epoch-making first ascent of Broad Peak in 1957 and the equally significant first ascent of Dhaulagiri in 1960, where he reached the summit with a Swiss team. The final book is the more relaxed Spirits of the Air, where Diemberger reflects on his varying – and often hilarious adventures – and on the contrasts between his life in Italy, Austria and the always-beckoning Himalaya.
Kurt Diemberger was born 1932 in Austria. He belongs to the extremely elite club of three men who have made first ascents on two mountains over 8,000 metres. Of these three, he is the only one still alive. His climb of Broad Peak was a landmark ascent: the first time an 8,000-metre peak had been climbed in lightweight style without the use of high-altitude porters or oxygen.
In his youth, Diemberger spent his summers in the Alps, starting in the Western Alps when the ice was in good condition, and ending in the Dolomites. He quickly amassed an impressive list of alpine achievements and first ascents, notably on the great ice routes. Diemberger attended university in Vienna, where he obtained two degrees. During the 1960s he became a mountain guide but continued to climb hard and explore the Greater Ranges. He made a number of trips to the now little-frequented Hindu Kush, driving from Austria in a VW bus. First ascents included Nobasium Zom (7,070m) and the magnificent Tirich West IV (7,338m), both in 1967 and both in the Pakistan section of the range. In 1974 he made the first ascent of Shartse II (7,457m) to the east of Lhotse Shar.
In 1978 he climbed Makalu and Everest with Pierre Mazeaud, and the following year Gasherbrum II. Later he was joined by Julie Tullis on several trips, including a repeat ascent for Diemberger of Broad Peak. Their expeditions, on which they acted as a two-person film crew, culminated in 1986 with their well-known ascent of K2 during the disastrous season of 1986. Trapped on the Shoulder in a storm, in which Tullis and Alan Rouse, amongst others, succumbed, Diemberger and fellow Austrian Willi Bauer were the only two climbers to survive the descent, though both suffered severe frostbite which resulted in amputations. By this time Diemberger had taken part in many filming projects and more or less become the number one, high-altitude cameraman of that era. But he continued with his quest to explore remote and largely unknown mountain areas, particularly in China. More recently he has visited deserts and the Poles.
He has now penned half a dozen books, made many films, and is still a prolific speaker/lecturer.
Diemberger received his honour at the 21st Piolets d'Or in Chamonix. He is still very active in the mountaineering world, lecturing and writing and also working on film projects with his daughter.
- Title: The Kurt Diemberger Omnibus
- Sub-title: Spirits of the Air, Summits and Secrets and the award winning The Endless Knot
- Author: Kurt Diemberger
- Imprint: Bâton Wicks
- ISBN: 978-1-898573-26-5
- Publication date: March 1998
- Edition: First
- Format: Hardback
- Size: 235mm x 150mm
- Extent: 864 pages; B&W text, B&W and colour photos
- Weight: 1,265g
- Retail price: £16.99
‘Diemberger’s descriptions are so real that at times I felt as though I was there.’
Gerry Goldsmith, Rucksack Club Journal
‘If you want instant transportation to the Alps or the Himalaya, crave the sensation of danger dodged – or sometimes not, or love the ins and outs of the climbing world’s great ranges, this book is your treasury.’
Guy Proctor, Trail Magazine
‘Highly recommended. You’re not likely to get a better blast from the past.’
John I. Murray, Irish Mountain Log
‘An enthralling book. There is no stiff upper lip here, emotions are laid out and wept over. One feels that the author is seeking absolution … yet through his pain comes the awe and wonder which envelop the greatest peaks.’
Charles Houston, American Alpine Journal