In memory of Maurice Erzog – the legendary climber and the first conqueror of Annapurna
Mountaineering legend, the first conqueror of Annapurna peak (Nepal) Maurice Erzog passed away on December 14, 2012 at the age of 92.
The climber became famous for his successful ascent of the eight-thousander on June 3, 1950. Together with Luis Lashenal, he was the first in history to conquer the most beautiful peak of Nepal without using oxygen. This was the first outstanding event in the history of mountaineering. Only 20 years later, members of the British Army Expedition passed the Erzog’s route along the northern slope of Annapurna. But the first ascent, without modern equipment, was a mountaineering feat. The reconnaissance of the route was carried out in one season and was very difficult. In 1953, he was overshadowed by the conquest of Everest.
In his memoirs, Maurice Erzog wrote that before the last stage of the ascent he lost his gloves and this was the biggest mistake. In addition, both climbers put on light boots for the final dash. On the spur, Erzog, Lashanel and two other climbers were forced to camp for the night. They only had one sleeping bag at all. Taking refuge in a crevice in the glacier, they managed to spend the night. The return from the conquered mountain lasted two weeks. As a result, both climbers suffered from severe frostbite on the fingers and toes. Louis Lashanel lost all his toes, and Maurice Erzog lost almost all of his toes, both on his feet and on his hands. The expeditionary doctor performed this operation in the field without anesthesia.
Moritz Erzog wrote the book “Annapurna”, which describes the first ascent in a rather pompous manner. The book was a huge success and sold 11 million copies. Later, a parody of this book appeared, which also became popular not only in the mountaineering environment. It has a pompous style of storytelling. The title of the book was especially liked by the readers – “The Ascent of Rum Doodle”, which literally translates – the ascent of the rum blockhead. This book gave more impetus to the popularity of Moritz and his book Annapurna. In the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, there is a cafe called “Rum Doodle”. The famous conquerors of the eight-thousanders, who are in Nepal, left autographs on its walls, and a peak with that name appeared in Antarctica.
Moritz Erzog has lived an interesting life. He was not only a famous mountaineer, but also a prominent statesman. The Erzog served as Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, was a deputy, mayor of Chamonix. Member of the International Olympic Committee, was an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee. Moritz Erzog will always remain in the memory of mankind as a man-legend, as a hero of the twentieth century.