Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Maurice Herzog, 93; Climber

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Maurice Herzog, 93; Climber

Article excerpt

Maurice Herzog, who was hailed as a hero in France in 1950 when he and a fellow climber became the first men to conquer a peak of more than 26,000 feet, that of Annapurna I in the Himalayas, died on Thursday near Paris. He was 93.

CORRECTION APPENDED

Maurice Herzog, a French alpinist who was hailed as a hero in his country in 1950 when he and a fellow climber became the first men to conquer a peak of more than 26,000 feet, that of Annapurna I in the Himalayas, died on Thursday in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. He was 93.

His death was confirmed by Christian Brincourt, a longtime friend and former climbing partner. In a tribute, President Francois Hollande of France said Herzog's climb was "engraved enduringly in our collective memory."

Before Herzog led a team up Annapurna in the spring of 1950, men had in fact climbed higher -- close to 28,000 feet, or 8,534 meters, on Mount Everest and K2, the two tallest mountains in the world. But those climbers had not reached the summits, and it would be three years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did so on Everest.

Herzog and Louis Lachenal reached the summit of Annapurna I -- the world's 10th-highest peak, at 26,545 feet -- on June 3 in brutal conditions; Herzog suffered frostbite that cost him most of his fingers and toes.

His star rose higher after he wrote an account of the journey that became what some call the most popular mountaineering book ever written. Titled "Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak," the book is a harrowing tale of courage, camaraderie and nearly catastrophic struggle.

"The whole of this book has been dictated at the American Hospital at Neuilly, where I am still having rather a difficult time," he wrote in the introduction, a year after the journey. The book concluded with a famous inspirational line: "There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men."

The book is said to have sold more than 11 million copies by 2000; National Geographic Adventure magazine called it "the most influential mountaineering book of all time." In recent years, however, Herzog was accused of suppressing competing versions of the climb for his own self-aggrandizement. …

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