Climber, writer, photographer and Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004, Reinhold Messner was born in South Tyrol, Italy, on 17th Septem-ber 1944. He grew up in the Villnöss Valley in the Dolomites and later studied at the University of Padua. He started climbing mountains at the age of five and has been one of the world’s most outstanding mountaineers for thirty years. In his over three thousand climbs he has achieved over a hundred first ascents, and was the first to climb all of the world's 8000-metre peaks. Messner was the first to reach Mount Everest's top without oxygen support. He has crossed by foot the Antarctic, Greenland, Tibet, the deserts Gobi and Takla Makan.
Reinhold Messner has written 50 books, which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. An eloquent speaker, he lectures throughout the world in international conferences, makes documentary films with well-known producers such as the BBC and contributes to specialist magazines such as Na-tional Geographic, Stern and Die Zeit. He has received literary prizes and inter-national awards in France, Germany, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan, the Czech Repub-lic, the United Kingdom and the USA. He is honorary member of the Royal Geographical Society and of The Explorers Club in New York. Between his jour-neys he lives at Juval Castle in South Tyrol where he runs a museum containing a considerable collection of Tibetan art and an organic hill farm. Besides being a prolific writer, he has created the Messner Mountain Museum, five interre-lated thematic museums dedicated to the art, culture, religion and peculiari-ties of mountain regions throughout the world. He has found the Messner Mountain Foundation (MMF) in order to support the mountain people world-wide.
Messner has succeeded in opening numerous new ascent routes and has given an explanation to the mystery of the Yeti. In contrast to the modern fig-ure of the adventurer-protagonist, Messner has never sought to break records, trying instead to maximise the exposure to nature in its purity and limiting to the minimum the use of artificial tools. On Nanga Parbat he adopted Mummery's motto "by fair means", on the Arctic pack ice he has followed Nansen's "call of the North", and has crossed the Antarctic via the South Pole, following Shackle-ton's idea. In the era of mass communication, Messner chooses solitary trips, without the support of artificial means, from nails to oxygen and satellite tele-phones, experiencing nature as he is confronted with.