Herald Berger: The Prince of Mountaineering Sport and Ice Climbing

Mountaineering is a set of activities that of course involve climbing mountains. Some of the most popular mountaineering-related activities are traditional outdoor climbing, rock climbing, and skiing. Sport climbing, bouldering, and indoor climbing are also considered as mountain climbing activities by some individuals. 

Unlike many sports, mountain climbing does not have widely-applied formal regulations, rules, and governance. Mountaineers only adhere to a massive array of philosophies and techniques when climbing the mountains. Various local clubs in Austria, as well as across the world, support mountain climbers by hosting social activities and resources. 

The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation is the International Olympic Committee world recognised organisation for mountaineering and climbing. If mountaineering is one of your favourite sports and you are looking to learn more about it, then you are in the right place. Here, you will find everything you need to know, including the history of mountaineering and some of the renowned mountaineers in the world, such as Herald Berger from Austria. So continue reading to learn more. 

Table of content

Early Mountaineering

People have been present in rocky and mountainous areas since prehistory. The remains of people who are believed to live in the fourth millennium BC, such as Otzi, were found in moving ice in the Otztal Alps. But early on, people did not visit the highest mountains and were, in most cases, associated with religious or supernatural concepts.  

mountaineering ice climbing sport

Nonetheless, there’re plenty of documented examples of individuals climbing mountains before the development of the sport in the early 19th century. However, most of these stories are, in most cases, considered as legendary or fictional. For most of antiquity, mountaineering was a symbolic or practical activity, usually undertaken for political, religious or economic purposes. The 1492 ascent of Mont Aiguille is one of the commonly cited examples.

Early attempts to climb mountains were only inspired by sporting motives. Also, mountaineers ascended mountain peaks to build alters, make geological or meteorological observations, get an overview of a neighbouring countryside, or see if spirits haunted once-forbidden heights. Before the modern era, history recorded various attempts to climb mountains for the sake of accomplishment. 

In the 18th century, a massive number of scientists or philosophers started making field trips into the famous Alps of Europe to make some observations. The Chamonix area in France became a distinctive attraction to most investigators, thanks to the great glaciers on the Mont Blanc.

Mountain climbing in a contemporary sporting sense that started when Horace-Benedict de Saussure, a young scientist from Geneva, first visited the Chamonix area in 1760, to view Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in Europe. He wanted to determine if he would reach the top or be responsible for it being climbed. 

Horace-Benedict de Saussure offered prize cash for the first climb of the Mont Blanc, but it was until more than 25 years later, that his prize was claimed by Michael-Gabriel Paccard, a famous doctor from Chamonix and Jacques Balmat, who was his porter. One year later, Horace-Benedict de Saussure himself ascended to the peak of Mont Blanc. 

And after 1850, several groups of British mountaineers with Italian, French, and Swiss guides scaled the Switzerland high peaks one after another. A landmark ascent in the development of the sport was the first climb of the Matterhorn on 14th July 1865 by Edward Whymper, an English artist. 

In the middle of the 19th century, the Swiss created an array of guides whose guidance helped make mountain climbing one of the distinguished sports across the world. The guides helped many mountaineers to climb different mountains across Europe. By 1870, all principle Alpine peaks had been scaled, and mountaineers started to look for new and more challenging routes on mountains that had already been climbed. 

Once the remaining minor summits of the Alps were overwhelmed, towards the end of the 19th century, mountaineering sport turned their attention to the North American Rocky Mountains, South African Andes Mountains, Africa’s peaks, the Caucasus of Asia and finally the Himalayas.

Mountain Climbing New Techniques

In the 1950s, there was a series of successful mountain climbing activities across the world. Various sportspersons from Austria climbed the Nanga Parbat in 1953 and a series of other mountains across the world including Himalayas, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Mount Everest and K2 in the Karakoram Range.

sport indoor climbing

In the early 1960s, mountain climbing as a sport underwent various transformations not only in Austria but also across the universe. Once the mountains were ascended, the emphasis then moved to research for increasingly challenging routes up the peaks. The 1963 climb of the West Face of Everest is a notable example. Furthermore, impossible rock faces or simply vertical climbs were being scaled via the use of newly invented artificial aids as well as advanced climbing techniques.

With advanced climbing techniques and new artificial aids, smooth vertical granite faces were overcome in a few weeks or days at a time. Other notable inventions and developments included an increase in the Alpine style of ascent, where mountain climbers carried some equipment and supplies, and they didn’t depend on porters or any other outside support. And as a result of this, many people were climbing very high mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Ice Climbing Sport as Part of Mountaineering

Many sportspersons who participate in mountaineering also involve themselves in ice climbing since these two sporting activities are closely related. Ice climbing is an activity that involves ascending inclined ice formations. In most cases, it refers to protected and roped climbing of features like frozen waterfalls, icefalls, rock slabs and cliffs covered with ice. 

mont aiguille bouldering

For climbing, ice can be broadly categorised into two groups, which include water ice and alpine ice. The Alpine ice is, in most cases, found in mountain environments and requires an approach to climb it. On the other hand, water ice is found on cliffs or any other outcropping beneath the water flows. Ice climbing involves a range of techniques which are:

  • Rope system: This is the commonly used ice climbing technique in Austria and other parts of the world. There’re three main rope systems used, which include twin, double, and single.
  • Tying in: Tying in involves attaching a rope to the ice climbing harness. This ice climbing technique is ideal, especially when belaying or leading a climb. When using this technique, you must be careful to ensure your safety when climbing. 
  • Leading: This technique involves the act of leading, which means that it requires a follower and a leader. It involves putting protection while climbing. Leaders place protections as they climb until they reach the top of the ice. At the top, the leaders build a belay anchor that helps other climbers. 
  • Belaying: In this technique, either fixed belays or running belays are used. The leader of the ascent puts protection and clips ropes through it. The next ice climber puts away the protection. When it comes to fixed belays, a belay anchor, a belayer, and points of protection are the main components. When using either fixed or running belay, you must have enough skills and knowledge on ice/boot-screw belay techniques.
  • Abseiling: Abseiling is a technique that uses fixed ropes to descend. The technique allows climbers to control their speed as well as the rate of descent. This ice climbing method is not only used after a climb but also when trying to find new climbing routes. Careful execution is vital when abseiling since ropes can easily be severed by sharp edges or may become jammed. Climbers can use an autoblock or perform a fireman’s belay for extra protection. 

With all this information about mountaineering and ice climbing, it is vital to look at some of the renowned sportspersons in the world. Herald Berger from Austria is one of them. So let’s look at his biography, achievements, and appearances, among other great things.

herald berger biography

Herald Berger Biography

Herald Berger was a mountain climber from Austria. He practised ice climbing, mountain climbing, cliff climbing, and bouldering. Herald Berger started climbing at the age of 14 years close to his home. Just after high school, Berger relocated to Salzburg, where he dedicated himself to different disciplines, ranging from sport climbing and ski mountaineering to ice climbing. 

Since 2002 Herald Berger has participated in the World Cup ice climbing tournament, winning three trophies in 2006, 2003, and 2002. Throughout his mountaineering and ice climbing life, Herald Berger has climbed challenging routes and ice fall across the world.

Also, he dedicated himself to some long routes with excellent results. After Stefan Glowacz, Herald Berger was the second mountaineer to complete the Alpine Trilogy. The Alpine Trilogy includes three of the most challenging climbing routes in the Alps. In 2003, Herald climbed The End of Silence, and in 2004 he climbed Des Kaisers Neue Kleider. 

And in 2005, he managed to climb the Silbergeier. In 2006, he made the first free climb, which ascents near Silbergeier. Also, he opened a new short cut on Tsaranoro in Madagascar. On 20th December 2006, Herald Berger died while training in Eiskapelle near Hintersee, one of the popular ice caves in Austria. During the training, an ice detachment with tens of tons collapsed on Herald Berger, claiming his life.

world cup ice climbing tournament

One year later, after he died in 2007, photographers Kirsten Buchmann and Hermann Erber dedicated a book to him. The title of the book is Equilibrium and includes thoughts from Herald Berger’s life and plenty of his images.

Best Herald Berger Appearances

Herald Berger was a great mountain climber, and he had some of the best appearances throughout his mountaineering career. Some of his best appearances include in the Ice Climbing World Cup in three years, which include 2002, 2003, and 2006. Across these three years, Herald Berger was the world cup winner before he died in 2007. He has climbed various 8a boulders and some of the longest routes that he has been through include:

  • The End of Silence: Established by brothers Thomas Huber and Alexander Huber, The End of Silence is a long route climb on the Feuerhorn in Germany. The route is part of the famous Alpine Trilogy.
the end of silence
  • Silbergeier: This is a long-distance route climb in Ratikon, Switzerland that was established by Kuoni Kammerlander and Beat Kammerlander in 1993. The route was freed the following year by Beat. It is part of the Alpine Trilogy.
  • Des Kaisers Neue Kleider: Stefan Glowacz established this long route climb in 1994. It is part of the Alpine Trilogy on the Kaiser Mountains of Austria.

Other additional long routes include Bravo Les Filles that was established by Tsaranoro Kelly in Madagascar, the Antihydral by Rochus Mathis, and the Tsaranoro Short Cut that he established himself in 2006. Aside from long climb routes, Herald Berger also used some ice and mixed routes such as the Law and Order that Wilden Kaiser established in December 2006, The Game by Cineplex Cave that was discovered in 2004 and Vertical Limits that Kandersteg founded in 2004.

The Good-Bye to the Ice King, Herald Berger

Herald Berger was an ice climbing sport world champion who died in 2007 when a huge block of ice fell on him. The accident took place in Austria when he was training. Virtually, the whole frozen 150-ton ice collapsed on him when he was ice-bouldering below. Herald Berger was buried under metres of ice. He was with three other ice climbers, who escaped unharmed. 

horace-benedict de saussure silbergeier

Born in 1972 in northern Austria, Herald Berger was a full-time mountaineer and ice climber, as well as a certified UIAGM guide. During his time, he established various routes on ice, mixed terrain and rocks. Additionally, he won several world ice climb championships and three world cups in 2002, 2003, and 2006. Apart from ice, rock, and mountain climbing, Herald Berger also did skydiving, BASE jumping, and deep water diving. 

Final Thoughts

The lovers of mountaineering and those who saw Herald Berger climb and compete will never forget him. Herald was a prince of mountaineering and climbing on rock and ice. Many of his fans already miss his driving passion.

Dalius Mikalauskas

Sports Betting Expert

Dalius became interested in sports betting at the age of 16, although he could not place bets at that time (bets accepted from the age of 18). However, it was not forbidden to sell betting picks, which is what the author did actively on sports betting forums. Today, he has more than 18 years of experience in sports betting. In school, the auth ..
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