"The Dark Glow of the Mountains" features the genuinely legendary free-style mountaineer, Reinhold Messner who, along with Hans Kammerlander scaled Gasherbrum I & II - two of the world's most difficult peaks back to back. Reinhold Messner is undoubtedly the greatest mountain climber of all time. He was the first person to climb all 14 of the 8000+ meter peaks (between 1970-1986).
Since the days of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, oxygen tanks had been used in ascents of Everest. Messner was the first climber to break this tradition. In 1978, he and Peter Habeler made the first successful climb without oxygen. Critics claimed that Messner used mini-bottles of oxygen, Messner silenced them when he summited the mountain, without oxygen or support, on the more difficult Northwest route, in 1980 - and during monsoon season, to boot! A feat that will probably never be equalled. During 1989, he and Arved Fuchs were the first men to cross Antarctica without animal or motorised power - purely on on skis alone.
He is also the world's greatest author on mountain climbing. His books
especially "The Naked Mountain", "The Big Walls: From the North Face
of the Eiger to the South Face of Dhaulagirl" and "Free Spirit: A Climber's Life" are truly amazing, being at once informative, harrowing, deeply emotional and truly inspiring.
Messner was a member of the European Parliament for the Italian Green Party from 1999 to 2004. He is - in my mind, at least - one of the most formidable dudes of all time and I wish that he and his achievements were known by all. "The Dark Glow of the Mountains" is a beautiful jewel of a film that delivers so much more than one would expect and I feel it is one of Herzog's greatest works.
Available on DVD only as part of the Herzog documentary and short film boxed set, from his official website.
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