Swiss Alpine Museum

Erhard Loretan project

Erhard Loretan was the first Swiss person to climb all fourteen 8,000ers, the second person to do so without supplemental oxygen, and the third person ever to manage this feat. And he held onto his record for Mount Everest – forty-three hours to the summit and back – for thirty years. Forgoing porters and fixed ropes made him “fast and light”, and he exported the Alpine style to the high Himalayas. Always partaking of fondue and apricot liqueur before setting off from base camp, Loretan brought a humorous nonchalance to the world of mountaineering.

Exploring a mountaineering cosmos

In October 2014, the Loretan family donated Erhard Loretan’s climbing-related possessions to the Alpine Museum. These include around 30,000 photos of his climbs and expeditions in the Swiss Alps and surrounding regions, the mountains of North and South America (Alaska and the Andes), Greenland, Antarctica and Asia (the Himalayas and the Karakorum). The diaries that he wrote during expeditions are also present, as are numerous audio recordings with diary-style entries, dozens of film documents, and an entire cellar full of climbing equipment ranging from pitons, ropes, and ice axes to all-in-one suits, boots, and goggles. The folders on each expedition containing all the organizational and administrative paperwork complete this veritable climbing cosmos.

In 2022, work on the Erhard Loretan collection gained new momentum thanks to a bequest from René and Alice Laube. This mountain enthusiast, long-time patron of alps and member of the Uto branch of the SAC generously left the Swiss Alpine Museum 300,000 Swiss francs in his will. This money made it possible to realize a project that has been a long time in the planning: cataloguing the Erhard Loretan (1959–2011) collection and staging a travelling exhibition about this exceptional mountaineer.

The exhibition "At the Limit. Expeditioneering with Erhard Loretan" opens on 29 June 2024