Kurt Diemberger (born on 16 March 1932 in Austria), living legend of mountaineering, high-altitude filmmaker and photographer, author of several books, recipient of the 2013 Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement (after Walter Bonatti, Reinhold Messner, Doug Scott and Robert Paragot), is one of the founding fathers of Mountain Wilderness and still serves as Honorary President.
Diemberger belongs to an elite club. Only three men have made the first ascent of two 8,000ers: Hermann Buhl, Diemberger and Gyalzen Norbu Sherpa (Broadpeak In 1957, Dhaulagiri in 1960).
His climb of Broad Peak was a landmark ascent: the first time an 8,000er had been climbed in lightweight style, without the use of high-altitude porters and oxygen.
Diemberger was the last person to see Hermann Buhl alive before he fell through a cornice on Chogolisa.
In his youth Diemberger spent his summers in the Alps, starting in the Western Alps and ending in the Dolomites.
By 1958 he had climbed the three great north faces of the Alps – Eiger, Matterhorn, and Grandes Jorasses – a truly remarkable achievement for the time.
During the 1960s he became a mountain guide but continued to climb hard and explore the highest mountain ranges.
He made a number of trips to the Hindu Kush, driving from Austria in a VW bus. First ascents included Nobasium Zom (7,070 m) and the magnificent Tirich West IV (7,338 m), in 1967, both in Pakistan.
In 1974 he made the first ascent of Shartse II (7,457 m) to the east of Lhotse Shar.
In 1978 he climbed Makalu and Everest with Pierre Mazeaud, and the following year Gasherbrum II. Later he was joined by Julie Tullis on several trips, including a repeat ascent of Broad Peak. Their expeditions, on which they acted as a two-person film crew, culminated in 1986 with their well-known ascent of K2. Diemberger was one of only two survivors in the 1986 K2 disaster.
Besides mountain ranges, he was also fascinated by remote deserts and the Poles.