An Interview with Reinhold Messner

Editor: Mr. Messner, in your new book, you share a lot of memories of your youth, your parents and how you would climb everything you saw as a young boy.

That part was very enjoyable to read.

What inspired you to write the beautiful book: ‘My Life at the Limit’?

Reinhold Messner: “My Life at the Limit” is a kind of biography. A journalist – asking me simple questions – is able to find out how I think- how I act, how I tick.

Editor:  Your life experiences are legendary, yet you are a kind, helpful and humble person at heart.

What are the drawbacks of fame? It helps professionally, but emotionally is also a heavy burden.

Many people like to use famous people without regard to their feelings.

How do you handle fame?

Reinhold Messner: My fame – in Germany, Austria, Italy – could be also a burden, in the rest of the world only adventurous people know my name.

Fame is a help and a trap.

I try to divide strictly between private and public life.

On the stage – lectures – I am open for the public, privately nobody finds me.  My family is my nest.

Editor: Who is that one person or persons who had the biggest influence on your life as a mountaineer?

Reinhold Messner: My mother – she never tried to hold me back; Sepp Mayerl, 7 years older than me and with a lot of experience when I was 18.

Mr. Messner, some mountaineers sense a deeper connection in the mountains.

Mountains can purify the spirit and clarify the mind.

Climbing a mountain changes a person’s view of life emotionally.

Sometimes, fear loses its grip and we can climb peacefully.

What are your thoughts on this?

Reinhold Messner: No doubt, mountains can purify the spirit and clarify the mind. Mountaineering – in a traditional way – is like living 10.000 years ago. No rules, no limitations – but all the responsibility in our rucksack.

Editor: How do you feel about how climbing Everest has become like a game recently, and not a serious pursuit?

There are simply too many who want to climb it. There are photos of lines upon lines of people with little experience, waiting to summit, near the Hillary Step.

Very few climb for the love of and respect for Everest, like you do.

Does it make you sad that such a sacred mountain is being bought and sold like a business commodity?

Reinhold Messner: What’s happening today on the 2 normal routes of Everest is tourism, not alpinism anymore. Generally what we call alpinism is becoming sport (indoor) or tourism.

Editor: Himalayan glaciers (the Ngozumpa Glacier) are showing a fast melt-rate.

What are your thoughts on climate change, as it directly affects mountaineering?

In your opinion, is enough being done to protect the natural world?

Reinhold Messner: Nature changes, because it is alive, creative…global warming is a fact and brings a lot of danger – more crevasses, loss of permafrost, rock fall. The next ice age is far away.

Editor: What is the 1 most valuable tip or advice from your distinguished career that you can share with those who love to climb, and find great inspiration in you?

Reinhold Messner: Do what you are able to do safely.

Editor: Thank you for your time, Mr. Messner. I appreciate it.

Useful resources:

Reinhold Messner Official website:

Reinhold Messner’s latest book My Life at the Limit ’:

Reinhold Messner’s books are worth a look here:

Check out Reinhold Messner’s spectacular biographical slideshow (with some really rare and beautiful images) here:


On the Cover: Reinhold Messner

Author of

My Life at the Limit