Maurice Herzog, the leader and and last surviving member of the 1950 historic first ascent of Annapurna has passed away at the age of 93 years.
In his obituary of Herzog published in the Guardian today, British climber Ed Douglas said Herzog became a French national national hero after returning from Annapurna in Nepal.
Annapurna was the first mountain over 8,000m to be climbed. Others were higher – such as Everest, the site of British assaults in the 1920s and 30s – but no summits had been reached. Furthermore, the geography of the Annapurna region was little known. Herzog’s expedition only settled on it as an objective after first exploring the approaches to a neighbouring 8,000m giant, Dhaulagiri.
The personal cost of this triumph to Herzog, who has died aged 93, was horrific. In reaching the summit in the summer of 1950 with Louis Lachenal, Herzog’s hands and feet had been frozen, and doctors had amputated all his fingers and toes. He spent months in hospital recovering from his injuries, plunged in a deep depression. Writing his book was not only cathartic but also sealed his reputation as a dynamic and courageous leader, and helped restore self-respect to postwar France.
The full obituary can be found here.