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Famed French mountaineer dies

Sat., Dec. 15, 2012

PARIS – French mountaineer Maurice Herzog, who became the first person to scale an 8,000-meter peak but lost all his fingers and toes to frostbite on the way down, died Friday. He was 93.

Herzog, a member of the International Olympic Committee for 25 years and a former sports minister, died of natural causes, said Pierre You, the president of the French Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing.

A photograph of Herzog waving a French tricolor atop the 8,091-meter (26,545-foot) Annapurna in the Himalayas on June 3, 1950, made front pages around the world.

All of Herzog’s fingers and toes had to be amputated after the expedition to Annapurna, which he later recounted in a best-selling book.

Though Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest three years later, Annapurna was not scaled again for 20 years.

Herzog parlayed his post-Annapurna fame into a career in French politics, first as a minister for sport under Charles de Gaulle and later as a national lawmaker and longtime mayor of Chamonix in the French Alps. He also helped France obtain the 1992 Winter Olympics for Albertville.

Last year, Herzog was decorated with the Grand Cross in France’s Legion d’Honneur, the country’s highest civilian honor.


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