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Anderl Heckmair

ANDERL HECKMAIR has seven books (all in German) and innumerable magazine articles to his credit. His greatest claim to fame is the first ascent of the Eiger North Face.

Anderl Heckmair was born in Munich, Bavaria on October 12, 1906. He lived in an orphanage from 1916-1920 in Munich after his father died and his mother was called to war work (World War 1). After an apprenticeship as a gardener, Heckmair attended agricultural college and graduated as a horticultural gardener.

Heckmair started extreme mountaineering in the late 1920s and early 1930s in the mountains of the "Wilder Kaiser," Wetterstein, Karwendel, Dolomites and the Western Alps. He started ice climbing and made the first ascent of the Grand Charmoz-North face in 1931. In 1932, he rode his bicycle from Munich to Barcelona, Spain, then rode further by train for an expedition to Morocco, North Africa. In 1933, he became a mountain guide and ski guide. In the early 1930s, Heckmair made bold ascents of Tre Cima di Lavaredo, the Cima Grande Northface, (first alpine ascent in five hours without a bivouac), Civetta Northwest face, Sans Maor East face, among others. In 1935, Heckmair led team members Ludwig V̦rg, Heinrich Harrer and Fritz Kasparek on the first ascent of the Eiger North Face. He then entered military service in 1939 and from 1943-1945 served as an instructor for training courses for military mountain guides in Pulpmes, Austria. In 1951, Heckmair accomplished a personal alpine achievement when, under dramatic conditions, he climbed the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses.

After World War II, Heckmair served as an instructor for German mountain guides and ski guides by order of the German Alpine Club. From 1950, he was leader of the ski school at Oberstdorf. He later became Honorary Chairperson for the foundation of the union of German mountain guides and ski guides. Heckmair guided botanical-geological trips in the mountains around Oberstdorf from 1969-1997. In 1966, Heckmair became an honorary member of the International Union of Mountain Guides and in 1996 an honorary citizen of Oberstdorf. He participated in such expeditions as: the 1954 German-Austrian team to the Karakoram, Pakistan, 1960 in Africa (Ruewnzori and Hoggar) in Kenya through Algiers, 1963 in South America (Cordillera Blanca, Peru) and in 1965 to Mt. Waddington, the Rocky Mountains and Popocapetl, Orizaba in Mexico. He spent time in 1960, 1961 and 1976 in Nepal (Lamjun and Helambu) as a trekking leader.

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