Pierre Beghin, 1951-1992

Publication Year: 1993.



Another of the world’s foremost mountaineers has lost his life in the Himalaya. Pierre Beghin, the Frenchman who during the last decade broke the barriers of the impossible, was killed on October 11 on the south face of Annapurna when a rappel anchor pulled out. Engineer by profession, he worked in the Division de Nivologie of the CEMAGREF in Grenoble as an expert on snow problems and avalanche protection.

Born in 1951, Pierre excelled in rock and ice climbing, extreme skiing and high-altitude mountaineering. In the Alps, he made many bold climbs, solo and in winter, including the first winter ascent of the Bonatti route on the Grandes Jorasses from December 25 to 29. In the Andes, from July 20 to 24, 1978, he climbed the 1966 Paragot route on the north face of Huascarán Norte—with a broken shoulder and alpine-style.

His high-altitude experiences in Asia started in 1974 with an attempt on the Uli Biaho Tower in Pakistan. His outstanding stamina and determination at high altitude were well recognized. The list of his accomplishments is long and distinguished. We mention only a few. On October 7, 1981, he completed the ascent of the virgin, rocky west face of Makalu. On October 17, 1983, he became the first Frenchman and the first solo climber to ascend Kangchenjunga. Doubtless his two most exceptional feats were the 1989 five-day traverse of Makalu via the south face and west ridge, three-fourths of which he did solo, and his 1991 ascent with Christophe Profit of K2, via the northwest ridge and the north face, linking the Polish and Japanese routes.

Pierre wrote dozens of interesting articles. Recently, he had a regular monthly page in Montagnes Magazine. He faithfully reported all his expeditions in full articles or notes in the American Alpine Journal, which he stated “stood in the key position of all overseas mountaineering literature.” He published a number of mountain books, often illustrated with his own excellent photographs. The most outstanding was perhaps his last: Hautes altitudes: Voyage dans l’oxygène rare. He leaves his wife Annie, who has received much sympathy from all corners of the world.

Józef Nyka, Editor, Taternik, Poland