Paul Preuss: Lord of the Abyss

Life and Death at the Birth of Free-Climbing

By (author): David Smart
ISBN 9781771603232
Hardcover | Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
248 Pages

About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

David Smart has been climbing since 1975 throughout North America and Europe. He has completed hundreds of new routes in eastern Canada and is the founder of Gripped, Canada’s Climbing Magazine, Canadian Running Magazine, Canadian Cycling Magazine and Triathlon Magazine Canada. He is also the author of five climbing guidebooks; a memoir entitled A Youth Wasted Climbing, short-listed by the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in 2015; and the climbing novel Above the Reich, published by Imaginary Mountain Surveyors. He lives in Toronto, where he is the editorial director of Gripped Publishing and is still an active new-router in northern Ontario.

Reviews

“Smart…has intricately woven stories of Preuss’ life and accomplishments with vivid illustrations of the times and the rising middle class in the outdoors into a magnificent biography.” – The Suburban Mountaineer