Peter Habeler was born in Maryhoven (Austria) on 22 July 1942. If ever there was a mountain climber with natural ability, it was Habeler. By the age of six, Peter Habeler was exploring the mountains, pushing himself a little harder each time. His love for the mountains and the challenge they posed had excited him from an early age. Little did that young adventurous boy know that he would go on to become one of the worlds most respected climbers.
By the tender age of twenty-one, Peter had proven himself capable on the mountains, and was certified as a skiing instructor and a mountain guide. His career as a serious mountain climber really took off when he partnered with another famous climber, Reinhold Messner, in the 1960’s. Together, these two men took on the South American Yerupaja in 1969, the northern face of Eiger in 1974 and in the year 1975, they conquered Hidden Peak. But it would be their 1978 climb, that would slingshot them into history. Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner ascended Mount Everest without the assistance of oxygen – which was not just a first for both climbers but for Everest as well. Reinhold praised his climbing partner by saying: “He’s like a sky rocket, really impressive once the fuse is lit.”
Looking back on Peter Habeler’s career as a mountain climber, it becomes clear that Mount Everest was not his only great accomplishment. He was also the first European climber to ascend the Big Walls, which is located in the Yosemite National Park, and to make his mark in the Rocky Mountains. As with most mountain climbers, the lure of the fourteen giants that stand at over 8 000 feet, is a tremendous challenge and adventure. Over and above, his climb of Hidden Peak and Mount Everest, Habeler also summited Nanga Parbat, Cho Oyu and Kanchenjunga.
Peter Habeler has much to be proud of as a climber. He has managed to build a spectacular reputation during the course of his career – one that will always be remembered amongst the mountain climbing community. He opened a mountaineering and ski school in Maryhofen in 1972, which he has now committed himself to full time. Scholars can certainly say that they have learnt from the best, but should always remember the dangers of climbing and always respect the power of the mountain and nature. As spoken by the master himself: "I have not conquered Everest, it has merely tolerated me".