Paul Preuss: Lord of the Abyss: Life and Death at the Birth of Free-Climbing

Paul Preuss: Lord of the Abyss: Life and Death at the Birth of Free-Climbing

by David Smart


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Shortlisted for the 2019 Boardman Tasker Award

Shortlisted for the 2019 Banff Mountain Book Award for Mountain Literature

An intriguing biography of the renowned Austrian alpinist Paul Preuss, who achieved international recognition both for his remarkable solo ascents and for his advocacy of an ethically "pure" alpinism (meaning without any artificial aids).

In the months before his death in 1913, from falling more than 300 metres during an attempt to make the first free solo ascent of the North Ridge of the Mandlkogel, Paul Preuss’s public presentations on his climbing adventures filled concert halls in Austria, Italy, and Germany.

George Mallory, the famed English mountaineer who died on Mount Everest in 1924, said "no one will ever equal Preuss."

Reinhold Messner, the first climber to ascend all fourteen 8000 metre peaks, was so impressed by the young Austrian’s achievements that he built a mountaineering museum around Preuss’s piton hammer, wrote two books (in German) about him and instituted a foundation in Preuss’s name.

Alex Honnold, the first and only person to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, has thought about Preuss' untimely and surprising death and imagined it to have likely been "the worst four seconds" of Preuss' life.

Although he died at only 27 years old, modern climbing may never have developed the ethical, existential core that it has today if not for Preuss’s bold style. Even the most trenchant traditionalists remain unsure about whether to add him to their pantheon or dismiss him as at worst a lunatic or at best an indelicate subject better left ignored.

Smart's biography is the first English language volume to be published and is certain to bring the remarkable story of Paul Preuss to a whole new generation of climbers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781771603232
Publisher: Heritage Group Distribution
Publication date: 07/30/2019
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David Smart is the editorial director of Gripped Publishing and founding editor of four magazines, including Gripped, Canada’s Climbing Magazine. He is the author of five climbing guidebooks and numerous articles in both the Canadian Alpine Journal and Climbing magazine, as well as two novels and the memoir A Youth Wasted Climbing. David lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Paul Preuss, Legend 11

The Boy Who Loved Flowers and Mountains 13

The Student Mountaineer: Vienna, 1907-10 37

Schneid: Planspitze, Matterhorn, 1908 53

Jesus of the Dorotheergasse - 1909 61

Dolomites: The Devils Lair, Summer 1910 75

In Munich, the City of Climbers 83

Allein: Five Days That Changed Climbing, Summer 1911 93

A Crazy Notion: The Great Dispute, 1911-12 113

Doctor Preuss Presents 131

Life as a Trifle: The Kaisergebirge, Northern Limestone and the Western Alps, 1912-13 139

Valhalla: Mandlkogel North Face, October 1913 163

The Sleeper of Altaussee 207

Acknowledgements 219

Selected Bibliography 221

Notes 223

Index 239

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