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This is a peak by peak account of perhaps the greatest achievement of mountaineer Reinhold Messner - the ascent of the world's 14 8000 metre peaks between 1970 and 1986. The fourteen chapters describe the difficulties, tragedies and ultimate successes of the ascent of each peak. In these pages is the voice of a man suffering -loneliness, despair, hallucinations, the deaths of his brother and friends - but triumphing in the end - and the voice of a man conquering the barriers set up by nature. Messner has redefined the possibilities of high altitude climbing: he effectively pioneered the Alpine style in big peak climbing; climbed Everest without oxygen when scientists said this was impossible; and climbed Everest solo.