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Shows to fete Messner on 70th birthday

Sixth museum, by Zaha Hadid, to be completed in time

28 February, 11:59
Shows to fete Messner on 70th birthday (ANSA) - Bolzano, February 28 - Italy's king of the 8,000 metre peaks, climbing legend Reinhold Messner, will be feted by his five mountain museums on his 70th birthday on September 17, organisers said Friday.

Each museum, from Brunico to Castel Firmiano, will devote a show to a stage in the great mountaineer's life and career.

Organisers said they expected the sixth Messner Mountain Museum at Plan de Corones to be completed in time for the celebrations.

It was designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid.

Messner, the first man to climb Everest without breathing apparatus and perhaps the most famous mountaineer in the world, has turned to solo exploration in recent years.

This included a two-month solo crossing of the Gobi desert in China and Mongolia.

Messner, the pride of the autonomous Alto Adige (South Tyrol) region, has a long list of adventurous achievements to his credit.

He was the first man to scale all 14 of the world's peaks higher than 8,000m and he is a legend among climbers with the first oxygen-less conquest of Everest in 1980, a feat until then thought impossible.

He has also made solo ascents of Nanga Parbat and Everest.

Messner lost seven toes and three fingers to frostbite during the climb of Nanga Parbat in 1970, and his brother Gunther died on the descent.

Messner stopped climbing 15 years ago but showed no intention of putting his feet up at his castle in the Alps.

Instead, he turned his attention to polar expeditions.

In 1990 he became the first man to cross the Antarctic on foot and later tried the Arctic too, but without success.

The Italian, born near the Austrian border, is also one of the few Western people who claims to have seen the Yeti, the mysterious ape-like creature dubbed the "Abominable Snowman." He says that during expeditions in the Himalayas he has encountered the Yeti not once, but four times, once close enough to touch it.

He is the author of at least 63 books in German, 1970-2006, many of which have been translated into other languages.

Some of these have been about his encounters with the Yeti.