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.
'Diemburger's descriptions are so real that at times I felt as though I was there.' (Gerry Goldmsith, The Rucksack Club Journal). 'If you want instant transportation to the Alps or the Himalaya, crave the sensation of danger doged - 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, The 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).