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Video: Annapurna - The World's Toughest Mountain
The ascent was not an easy one and the men struggled to climb without using supplemental oxygen. Near the summit, Herzog lost his gloves, which would later prove to be a costly mistake. On the descent, he, Lachenal and two other teammates were forced to camp over night without shelter and only one sleeping bag between them. Huddled in a crevasse, they managed to survive and complete their descent the following day. But severe frostbite in their fingers and toes forced the expedition doctor to perform emergency amputations, removing most of Herzog's digits.
The following year, the Frenchman would publish a book about the climb entitled "Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8000-Meter Peak," which would go on to sell more than 11 million copies in 40 different languages, making it the best selling mountaineering book of all time. Some of Herzog's account of events on the climb have proven to be controversial over the years, but his book has served to inspire generations of mountaineers that followed.
In honor of the passing of Maurice Herzog, here is a video of a recent expedition to scale the mountain, which provides some context on its challenges. After watching the short film, consider what it must have been like for Herzog and his team more than 60 years ago.
[Photo Credit: Wolfgang Beyer]