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The Boston Globe

Obituaries

French mountaineer and politician Maurice Herzog, 93

Mr. Herzog’s fingers were frozen in his famous ascent.

E.P. Dutton/”Annapurna”

Mr. Herzog’s fingers were frozen in his famous ascent.

PARIS — France loved him for his indefatigable, pioneering spirit, the first man to climb an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak despite losing all his fingers and toes to frostbite, a man who later went on to scale the heights of French politics.

Six decades after his 1950 Annapurna climb made Maurice Herzog a household name, the famed French mountaineer died Friday at age 93.

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The Elysee Presidential Palace said he died in France but gave no further details. He had lived just outside of Paris.

A photograph of Mr. Herzog waving a French tricolor atop the 26,545-foot peak in Nepal captured a seminal moment before the grueling descent, during which subzero conditions led to the amputation of all his fingers and toes.

‘‘The marks of the ordeal are apparent on my body,’’ he said.

Although the 1953 ascent of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay somewhat eclipsed Mr. Herzog’s achievement, Annapurna was not scaled again for some 20 years. Although Everest is the highest mountain in the world, Annapurna was said to be the most dangerous.

His book about the epic expedition, ‘‘Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000- ­Meter Peak,’’ was called ‘‘the most influential mountaineering book of all time’’ by National Geographic Adventure and made Sports Illustrated’s list of the top 100 sports books of all time. It has sold millions of copies — the International Olympic Committee said more than 20 million — and has been translated into dozens of languages.

‘‘In overstepping our limitations, in touching the extreme boundaries of man’s world, we have come to know something of its true splendor,’’ Mr. Herzog said in thebook.

Mr. Herzog was ‘‘a great figure of the mountains, Haute Savoie, and France,’’ said ­Sophie Dion, a deputy in Parliament from Mr. Herzog’s much-loved home ­region in the Alps.

Mr. Herzog was decorated with the Grand Cross in France’s Legion of Honor last year, the highest civilian honor.

Annapurna is ranked the 10th highest peak in the world and has been described as the ‘‘world’s deadliest peak.’’ Up to 2009, 60 climbers had died on Annapurna, according to climbing statistics website 8000ers.com, for a fatality rate of around 40 percent.

Mr. Herzog parlayed his post-Annapurna fame into a career in French politics, first as a minister for sport under President Charles de Gaulle and later as a national lawmaker and longtime mayor of Chamonix, a famous mountaineering town in the French Alps.

He also helped France obtain the 1992 Winter Olympics for Albertville.

There was no immediate information on survivors.

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