1978: First Conquest of Mount Everest without Supplemental Oxygen

1978: First Conquest of Mount Everest without Supplemental Oxygen
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 08 May 1978
  • At the top of Mount Everest the air pressure is only about a third of atmospheric pressure at sea level. Before Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler climbed there without supplemental oxygen on this day, it was disputed whether this was even possible.

On this day, for the first time in history, human beings conquered the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest – without the use of supplemental oxygen.

This venture was accomplished ​​by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler. Until then, there was a debate on whether this was even possible to do.

It is interesting that both Messner and Habeler are ethnic Germans, but neither of them was born in Germany.

Namely, Messner was born in the Italian South Tyrol. This is an area inhabited by Germans that was annexed to Italy after World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today this area is also called Alto Adige in Italian.

Habeler, in turn, was born in the Austrian part of Tyrol, about 30 km from Innsbruck.

Reinhold Messner is one of the most famous mountain climbers in history. He is also known for being the first man to ascend all fourteen world peaks that are higher than 8,000 meters. He is apparently the author of more than 60 books.

At the top of Mount Everest, the air pressure is about 337 hPa, therefore only about one-third of the atmospheric pressure at sea level.

For that reason, breathing is almost impossible for people without artificial aids such as oxygen tanks under pressure, or without long-term habituation.

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