Regarded as the world’s greatest living climber, Reinhold Messner is the first person to climb all 14 mountains higher than 8,000m, and the first to climb Everest alone and without supplementary oxygen. Here he picks four favourite treks.
Seti Khola, Nepal There are so many possibilities for great treks around the world, and yet people are all doing the same ones – Everest base camp, the Annapurna circuit, Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc. Last year I guided 15 people on a trek in Nepal to an unknown valley to the east of Machapuchare, a 6,993m peak that has never been climbed and for me is the world’s most beautiful mountain. You need at least two weeks, starting from Pokhara, approaching to the south of Machapuchare and crossing into the Seti Khola valley to the east. There are no teahouses or huts so you have to camp and the whole time we were there we did not see one other tourist. The strange thing is that you can see it from Pokhara but it remains unexplored because it’s not a famous trek. For information on trekking companies in Nepal visit www.taan.org.np
Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Italy This is a very short trek – about six hours – around the base of five beautiful peaks in the Dolomites. As you walk, you can normally look up and see climbers on the rocks above you. It’s like an illustration of the evolution of rock climbing over the past 150 years – a guide can point out each different route, which were the hardest in the world when first climbed. And of course the landscape is absolutely stunning. www.suedtirol.info
Hielo Continental Norte, Chile This is one of the most beautiful treks I’ve ever done but it is very challenging. The Hielo Continental Norte is an ice field covering 1,600 sq m of Patagonia and this trek crosses it. You begin through forests, carrying tents and food, then climb on to the ice cap, being very careful to avoid crevasses. You need at least a week but it might take two because the weather can be terrible. The hardest bit is descending over the glaciers at the other side to the Pacific coast – it’s steep and you need to abseil. www.chiletravel.com, www.niger-tourisme.com
Nanga Parbat, Pakistan This is the most scenic of any of the treks on the 8,000m peaks. I did it in 2005, starting at the Fairy Meadow campsite, then circling the mountain via the Rupal and Diamir base camps (the route Albert Mummery took in 1895) then on to the Indus valley and back to the start. It took a little less than three weeks, and you reach an altitude of just over 5,000m. www.tourism.gov.pk. For information on Messner’s mountaineering museums in Italy, see www.messner-mountain-museum.it