Maurice Herzog was an alpinist who became the first men to conquer a peak of a more than 26,000-feet mountain: Annapurna, in the Himalayas.
Before the Annapurna expedition (1950), men had already climbed higher than 26000 feet (for example on the k2 or the Everest), but none of such expeditions had reached the mounts’ summits. Only three years later, in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the Mount Everest’s summit (we talked about Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay a few days ago 😉 )
Mr. Herzog and Louis Lachenal reached the summit of Annapurna — the world’s 10th-highest peak, at 26,545 feet — on June 3 in brutal conditions; Mr. Herzog suffered frostbite that cost him most of his fingers and toes.
In 1951 Herzog wrote in a book the story of his journey: “Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak,”. The book has sold over 11 million copies as of 2000, more than any other mountaineering title. Ending with the stirring line “there are other Annapurnas in the lives of men” (in the context of the book, an exhortation to answer the challenges that life offers), the book gave an account of the expedition that established Herzog’s climbing reputation and inspired a generation of mountaineers.
Herzog was, however, a controversial character who has been accused by former comrades and even by his daughter to falsify his story and to minimize his entourage’s merits.
Photo: Maurice Herzog after his team’s conquest of Annapurna I in 1950. Credit “Annapurna”/E.P. Dutton
Credit Marcel Ichac, via “Annapurna”/E.P. Dutton