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Eckenstein, Oscar Johannes Ludwig (1859-1921)
Eckenstein, Oscar Johannes Ludwig (1859-1921)
London-born Oscar Eckenstein had a significant impact on early climbing technology thanks to his engineering background. He redesigned the primitive ‘climbing-irons’ of the day, resulting in the modern crampon; he introduced the shortened ice-axe for difficult snow and ice climbing and he scientifically established which knots were the strongest for use with a climbing rope. In addition, he was no slouch when it came to climbing achievements. One of the pioneers of the great Welsh cliff of Lliwedd, he graduated to the Alps and then became one of the first pioneers in the Greater Ranges, making the first attempt on K2 in 1902 which reached 6,502m. In addition he pioneered the climbing of Mexican volcanoes. Many of these climbs were undertaken with the extraordinary and controversial Aleister Crowley, the self styled occultist, of whom Eckenstein seems to have been the one true friend. It was probably because of this connection, plus Eckenstein’s well-known socialist leanings, that meant he was shunned by much of the conservative English climbing establishment.
Further reading: The Mountain Men, Alan Hankinson, Heinemann, 1977
Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Eckenstein, Oscar Johannes Ludwig (1859-1921)