Climber, writer, photographer and European parliamentarian, Reinhold Messner
has been recognized as one of the world's most outstanding mountaineers for 20 years.
In 1989-90, he accomplished what Shackleton had set out to achieve on his Endurance
expedition: Messner was the first to traverse the continent of Antarctica on foot.
In the course of 3,000 trips in the mountains, he has chalked up some 100 first ascents
and was the first to climb all of the world's 8,000-meter peaks. He lectures throughout
the world, makes documentary films, contributes to well-known specialist magazines and
supports the preservation of the last wildernesses. He has written 40 books, which have
been translated into more than a dozen languages. Between his journeys, he lives in Juval
Castle in South Tyrol, Italy, and runs both a museum of Tibetan art and an organic hill
farm. In addition, he continues to write books and develop museum projects. Messner was
born in Brixen, South Tyrol, Italy, on September 17, 1944. He grew up in the Villnoss
Valley in the Dolomites and later studied at the University of Padua.
Most commonly associated with Mount Everest, Stephen Venables was the
first Briton to ascend Everest without supplementary oxygen. In 1988 Venables
joined a four-man team to pioneer a new route up the Kangshung Face, the
biggest wall on Everest, the world's highest peak. Seven weeks after setting
foot on the face, he reached the summit, alone and without supplementary
oxygen. Venables first traveled to South Georgia Island (which he revisits
in Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure) for an expedition in 1990,
Venables has written many accounts of his climbing experiences. His latest
book, A Slender Thread, describes a climbing accident in the Himalayas
during which he plunged 300 feet down the mountainside and was stranded
with two broken legs at 19,000 feet. The book is short-listed for the
Boardman Tasker Prize.
Perhaps the foremost American climber, Conrad Anker has made a name by climbing
the most technically challenging terrain on Earth. This search has taken him from
the icefalls of Alaska and Antarctica to the big walls of Patagonia, from mixed
climbs in the Alps and Russia to the massive peaks of the Himalayas. In the
United States, Conrad is known for his numerous speed records in his ascents of
El Capitan. In 1997, he traveled to Antarctica with fellow climbers Alex Lowe and
Jon Krakauer to climb Rakekniven, a 2,500-foot wall in Queen Maud Land. In May 1999,
as a member of the Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition on Mount Everest, Anker
discovered the body of George Mallory, the preeminent Everest explorer of the 1920s.
He wrote about this experience in his book, The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mt.
To learn more about the three climbers and their experiences in making
this film, visit the NOVA/PBS Online Adventure site by clicking the logo