Edition: 2023
Pages: 236
Series: EL
ISBN: 9788858130117

The Mountain Within

Hervé Barmasse



They call him the new Bonatti. He is the last heir of the great Alpine climbers. Protagonist of extreme solo climbs, pushing himself to the limit of what is humanly possible, Hervé Barmasse talks about himself, his life story, the passion and thrill of the climbs, the discipline and adventure of the mountain tops. Passion, emotion, fatigue, discipline, adventure: the mountain as a teacher of life.

Born and raised at the foot of the Matterhorn, the world’s most beautiful mountain, Hervé Barmasse comes from a long line of Alpine guides stretching back over three generations. Yet it was not family tradition that made him become a mountaineer but a terrible ski accident: ‘I hit the pole at one hundred an hour. I twist my torso and raise my arm to shield my face but the impact is extremely violent. I crash into the metal flagpole, which flexes by thirty degrees, then there’s a crack and a whipping sound and the lights go out.’ Following the accident and several operations later, Hervé was forced to abandon competitive skiing. At sixteen years of age he had to recast his life’s narrative as a journey of rebellion, exploration and self-discovery. With the natural enthusiasm of youth, he resolved to work as a guide and alpine climber, and so the same Matterhorn that once left him indifferent became a mentor and witness to his earliest victories and defeats. ‘My Matterhorn is not just a mountain; it looks at me, helps me, admonishes me, it is alive and knows how to make me listen to it. We are friends, associates and we look out for one another. The mountain is part of me.’ For almost twenty years Barmasse returned to the Matterhorn as if to an appointment that could not be missed, climbing it in every season of the year, inventing new routes, returning to it after adventures in distant lands. It saw him grow and become a man; like a father, it tolerated the headstrong youth and admired the passion of the adult, the constant need to know oneself and to test one’s limits. This is a very special autobiography because Hervé strips away all heroisms, false legends and creeds. The alpine climber comes after the man, who yet undertakes such extraordinary feats as the four summits of the Matterhorn, on his own, in winter. This is no stereotypical epic of a champion of extreme sports, rather the description of what lies behind the adventure of mountain climbing, where the courage of one’s decisions is always intertwined with fragility and fear. Both without and within.

The author

Hervé Barmasse

It is difficult to sum up in a few words the adventures of Hervé Barmasse on the world’s rooftops. Five expeditions to Pakistan between 2004 and 2012 (in this last one, four mountains scaled of which three previously inviolate, in an area with geographical traits that are unique to the whole of Karakorum and perhaps even to the entire Himalayas), two in China with the ascent of an inviolate mountain of 6250 metres, five in Patagonia, the last in 2009 with the walk across the greatest glacier on earth. But also and above all, after the summits of other continents, were those nearest to home: eight times the Matterhorn, twice the Monte Rosa, in 2011 the Monte Bianco, in 2003 the Pizzo Badile, in 2003 and 2005 the Dent D’Herin, always in pursuit of new paths, new heights and surfaces to scale on classical extreme terrain. Some of his adventures have featured in two films: Continuous Line (2010) and Not So Far (2012), directed by Hervé.

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