Life of Erhard Loretan

Apr 30, 2011

erhard loretan
Erhard, completed the goal of reaching the Summit of all 14 8000 meters peaks in just 13 years at age 36.

When asked about those who would race to finish the 8000 meter peaks and those who would count lower Summits, Erhard Loretan said:

"This 'race' is a little outside the objective. I do not believe that it is a race between climbers rather it is between the 'media'. Perhaps I am mistaken. If people want to play, in my opinion, the climber must reach the highest point and without oxygen, of course. In fact, if you have a minimum of ethics, your heart will say to you if your climbing is clean or not. Personally, I went twice to Shishapangma because the first time, in 1990, the route to the main summit was dangerous. "

    His philosophy has always been the same - quickly and lightly. And being true to this, he succeeded in conquering the 14 8000ers in 13 years. He doesn't like roping up and he prefers quick ascents which minimize the risks attached to altitude.

    He was born on 28 April 1959 in the Swiss town of Freiburg in Bulle and he lives in the little village of Cresuz, Switzerland. He began climbing at the age of 11 and only 4 years later climbed the east face of the Doldenhorn (3645 meters).

    At the end of the 70s, he covered most of the Mont Blanc massif, including most of its classic routes and after a winter in Cervinia, in 1980 he went to the Andes where he made 3 new routes in addition to summiting Pallcaraju, the Ranrapalca, the Caras, the Artesonraju and the Huascaran (6768 meters). In 1982, he started his Himalayan career with a visit to Nanga Parbat (8126 meters). In 1981 he obtained his Swiss Mountain guide's diploma.

    He doesn't like being roped up, he prefers quick ascents which minimize the risks associated with altitude. His goal is to spend as little time as possible in the so-called "Death Zone". In 1995 he became the 3rd person in the world to climb the 14 summits over 8000 meters, after Reinhold Messner and Jerzy Kukuczka.

    He is the author of a book of “Photographs of the highest summits on the planet” to which he gave the following prologue - "What can provoke more enthusiasm in a young man, than discovering a passion which will fulfill his whole existence? As for climbing, is it not the best way of reaching heaven, as much physically as spiritually. I have taken the decision to live intensely, flirting with risk. I am always asked why I climb - the answer is found in the pictures I have taken - they open a window onto my experiences".

Loretan’s main climbs:
    1980 - Pallcaraju, Ranrapalca, Caras, Artesonraju, Huascaran (6768 meters)
    1982 - Nanga Parbat (8125 meters)
    1983 - Gasherbrum I (8068 meters), Gasherbrum II (8035 meters), Broad Peak (8047 meters)
    1984 - Manaslu (8156 meters), Annapurna (8078 meters), 4 day traverse of the crest
    1985 - K2 (8612 meters), Dhaulagiri (8167 meters), North Face of the Eiger (3970 meters) in one day
    1986 - 40 Swiss summits in 19 days in winter, Everest (8848 meters) - 40 hrs round trip from Base Camp -, Cho Oyu (8201 meters)
    1987 - Serious accident in the alps
    1988 - First ascent with Kurtyka of a route on the Nameless Tower, Trango Towers
    1989 - 13 North Faces (Swiss alps), K2 (attempt)
    1990 - Mc Kinley (6194 meters), Cho Oyu (8201 meters), Shisha Pangma (8046 meters)
    1991 - Makalu (8470 meters)
    1992 - K2 (8611 meters)
    1993 - Kangchenjunga (attempt)
    1994 - Lhotse (8501 meters), new solo route on Mont Epperly (4700 meters) Antarctica
    1995 - Kangchenjunga (8598 meters), Mount Loretan (nameless peak in Antarctica)
    1997 - Nanga Parbat (attempt on Mazeno Ridge with Voytek Kurtyka)
He trained as a cabinet-maker (1979) and mountain guide (1981) and began his climbing career at the age of 11. He died on his 52nd birthday while climbing the GrĂ¼nhorn in the Swiss Alps.

Loretan was one of the few who have climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, a feat he accomplished at the age of 36. He made his first expedition to the Andes in 1980 and began his conquest of the 8,000 metres (26,247 ft) peaks in 1982 with the deadly Nanga Parbat. 13 years later, in 1995, he climbed the last of them, Kangchenjunga. In 1986, Loretan made a revolutionary ascent of Mount Everest in only 40 hours, climbing by night and without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Loretan was convicted in 2003 of the manslaughter of his seven-month-old son, after shaking him for a short period of time to stop him crying in late 2001. He was given a four-month suspended sentence. Publicity of the case raised awareness of the danger of shaking children due to weak neck muscles.

He died on – 28 April 2011 in a climbing accident in the Swiss Alps on his 52nd birthday.