Book review: ‘Night Naked’ by Erhard Loretan

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The newly-published, Boardman-Tasker award nominated autobiography from Erhard Loretan tells the story of his progression from an enthusiastic Swiss schoolboy enthralled with the mountains to his crowning achievements on the worlds 8,000m peaks.

Loretan was one of the greatest high-altitude mountaineers to have lived, setting the climbing world alight in the 1980s and 90s by racing up the highest mountains in lightning-fast times. As an example, he climbed Mt Everest without oxygen in an astounding 40-hour round trip from base camp, with just a litre of water and a few bars in his pocket. Loretan writes beautifully about his experiences in the mountains, describing the wonder of being up high, but doesn’t shy away from talking about the human cost attached to his endeavors, recounting the tragedies which inevitably mar his journey to the summits of the Himalayan giants.

The format of the book works well, with chapters in Loretan’s own hand interspersed with short explanatory sections by Jean Ammann, a Swiss mountain journalist, adding extra context and ensuring that the reader understands just how modest the first-hand account given really is. ‘Night Naked’ is an absolute must read for all mountain lovers, one of the best-written additions to mountaineering literature in recent years.

Available to buy for £16.95 at

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