the story of His life is stunning – dominated by a dramatic escape from the GDR and the bold first ascent of the 8167-Meter-high Dhaulagiri in Nepal, White mountain called. Peter servant, now 90 years old, and my mind is still clear as a mountain lake, grew up in the Saxon town of Olbersdorf (D).
Perhaps it was his Swiss roots, that it moved him in the height. Although the Second world war raged, he was able to climb as a young climber of many peaks in the Alps in Austria. As the East of Germany became the DDR, he fled in 1950, together with a friend via the green border. “There was still no wall, but the border was guarded strictly by the Russians. We took advantage of a violent Thunderstorm and snuck up on us. Nevertheless, the escape was highly risky,” he recalls. His destination was the Toggenburg, where he was made a job as a roofer to us soon a name as a mountain climber.
On the roof of the world
came To international fame when he 31-year-old on Friday, the 13. In may 1960, conquered, together with a six-person Climbing the Dhaulagiri, the last untouched 8000er summit. The had ever achieved before. For the Expedition were then started under the leadership of Max Eiselin (87) 13 participants and seven Sherpas – without artificial oxygen. “From 8000 metres of altitude, we were wound so properly welded. You take a step and take three breaths. That was intense,” recalled the servant.
The climb had the climbers the best of luck. “The Dhaulagiri is very demanding. The Wind bounces first on the mountain, which means almost every afternoon bad weather.” A Sherpa fell into a crevasse, but was saved. Of those 13. May be one of the only three nice days during the two-month Expedition. To not have real feelings of happiness, it passed then to the summit. Servant remembers: “There was no wind and freezing cold at minus 35 degrees. The tension was great, because we had to, too. This is often more dangerous than the ascent. But I couldn’t believe my eyes, as the Sherpas lit at this height, even a cigarette.”
Expedition, with a greeting cards
financed daring was the trip to Nepal. “We had to carry six tons of Luggage, from Genoa by ship through the Suez canal to Bombay. The participants of the expedition flew in a single-engine Pilatus Porter in eight days to Kathmandu,” recalls Peter servant. “It was a huge adventure. Later, the Pilatus Porter served us with the name Yeti as a means of transport to the base camp at 5200 meters. Also, this was a pioneering achievement.”
very interesting to see how the Expedition was financed. “Who’s donated in Switzerland, five francs, you should get a greeting card from Nepal,” he says. “15’000 people ordered then. So 70’000 francs – at that time a princely sum.” There were then but problems because it was in Nepal, no view cards from the Dhaulagiri. “So we printed the greeting messages in advance in Switzerland and shipped from Genoa.” One of the troupe who was a postman, stamped all cards then in sweltering heat in Nepal and sent them to Switzerland.
servants is still good to walk
After worldwide celebrity, he was naturalized in 1961 and has lived since then in wild house TG. He was a mountain rescuer, and married the sister of Ernst Forrer (†83), who was then with him on the roof of the world. With Erna, he was married for 52 years. Peter Diener is good by foot. “I still do smaller tours, but everything is quiet,” he says happily.
On Saturday, he told his life story in the show “SRF bi de Lüt – Live” from the Toggenburg. “The first ascent of Dhaulagiri has always fascinated me as a child. That a Hero of that time, in the Toggenburg quasi-hidden, I didn’t know that,” says presenter Nik Hartmann (47). “The more I am pleased that Peter, a servant will be our guest.”