November 15, 2009

Controversial Figure in Alpinism Dies in Nepal

One of the most controversial figures in modern alpinism, Tomaz Humar, passed away recently on the South face of Langtang Lirung (7227m), Langtang Himal, Nepal. Known for his courageous solos and dramatic rescues, his tactics called into question the very definition of modern alpinism. He was a commercial alpinist, an iconoclast within the small world of individuals pursuing hard alpine climbs worldwide. He controverted the long held maxims of self-sufficiency and judicious decision making, two of the central tenets of alpinism held by climbers who wish to push their limits in alpine for a lifetime. Here is Climbing Magazine's account of Humar's climbing life with all excitement included, by Dougald MacDonald. For yet more historical context, please see this National Geographic link: "Tomaz Humar: Incredible Rescue, Angry Backlash on Pakistan's Nanga Parbat" written in the wake of Mr. Humar's 2005 rescue from the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat. This article contains thoughtful comments on the importance of self-sufficiency and factors in the decision-making process in alpine endeavors from alpine luminaries such as Kelly Cordes, Michael Kennedy, Marko Prezelj, and Mark Twight. 

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