Once again, Amazon recommendations came up with interesting suggestion in a form of One Day as a Tiger: Alex Macintyre and the Birth of Light and Fast Alpinism.Vertebrate Publishing2014'The wall was the ambition, the style became the obsession.' In the autumn of 1982, a single stone fell from high on the south face of Annapurna and struck Alex MacIntyre on the head, killing him instantly and robbing the climbing world of one of its greatest talents. Although only 28 years old, Alex was already one of the leading figures in British mountaineering's most successful era. His ascents included hard new routes on Himalayan giants like Dhaulagiri and Changabang and a glittering record of firsts in the Alps and Andes. Yet how Alex climbed was as important as what he climbed. He was a mountaineering prophet, sharing with a handful of contemporaries - including his climbing partner Wojciech Kurtyka - the vision of a purer form of alpinism on the world's highest peaks. One Day As A Tiger, John Porter's revelatory and poignant memoir of his friend Alex MacIntyre, shows mountaineering at its extraordinary best and tragic worst - and draws an unforgettable picture of a dazzling, argumentative and exuberant legend.9781910240083. The book is a biography of Alex McIntyre, a name that may not be household name like Reinhold Messner, but arguably just about as influential for the development of modern alpinism.
After ticking some of the hardest alpine routes of the era, he steered to Himalaya for bigger objectives. With partners like Wojciech Kurtyka he was a strong advocate of pushing pure alpine style to the biggest routes on the highest peak at the time when massive expeditions and siege tactics were very much the norm. Granted, there had been alpine style attempts and even successful ascents before, such as the first ascent of West SpurBroad Peak8047mWest sideAD; 60°Normally three high camps. by Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Kurt Diemberger and Hermann Buhl, even purer in style climbs on East sideSkilbrum7410mEast side53h and Chogolisa by the same climbers during the same expedition and even far earlier attempts by Albert F. Mummery on Nanga Parbat8126m to name a few examples.
McIntyre arguably pushed the style further than any of his predecessors laying the groundwork for a style that much later became to be known as fast 'n light style. McIntyre sadly died at the age of 28 when climbing on Annapurna I8091m. Before his untimely death he put up extremely impressive palmares including:
- 1976: Colton-McIntyreGrandes Jorasses4208mNorth faceVI ED3; VI/WI5 AI3 M6/90°, A31200m. New route with Nick Colton that has become the most classic ice route on the face.
- 1976: Harlin DirectEiger3970mNorth faceED3/4/Rus 6B; V+,A3/M8- 5.11+/5.12- R, 85°1800m.
- 1977: NE faceKohe Bandaka6843mNE side3000m. New route with Wojciech Kurtyka and John Porter. Perhaps not as famous as some of his other climbs, but every bit as cutting edge.
- 1978: South ButtressChangabang6864mSE sideVI,A3, Sco V1700m, 8 days. New route with Wojciech Kurtyka, Krzysztof Żurek and John Porter
- 1980: . New route with René Ghilini, Wojciech Kurtyka and Ludwik Wilczyński
- 1981: West faceMakalu8463mNW side. Two spirited attempts, first one with Wojciech Kurtyka and the second one with Wojciech Kurtyka and Jerzy Kukuchka, all star team of the time.
- 1982: SW couloirs and ridgePungpa Ri7443mSW side45°, IV. New route with Doug Scott & Roger Baxter-Jones
- 1982: British routeShishapangma8012mSW faceSco IV/60°, V2200m, 1-3 days. New route with Doug Scott & Roger Baxter-Jones
The author John Porter was not familiar to me. However, having participated in many of McIntyres's biggest climbs he clearly was at the forefront of the sport during the late 70's/early 80's. However, his contribution to climbing world does not stop at selection of landmark ascents as he is one of the founder's of Kendall Mountain Festival as well as co-founder of SteepEdge.