Seven Years in Austria
Posted on Dec 15 2011 at 02:10:15 AM in History
Peter Aufschnaiter was born on the 2nd of November 1899. He was an Austrian mountaineer, agricultural scientist, geographer and cartographer and became famous after his life was written about in the popular book: ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ by Heinrich Harrer, his mountaineering partner. Aufschnaiter also wrote a book about the same events called: ‘Eight Years in Tibet’. They are both a good reads for you are ever snowed in any of the luxury hotels such as the Innsbruck Hotels, which hardly ever happens, I must admit.
Born in Kitzbühel, Austria, Peter Aufschnaiter had an affinity for climbing. He met several German alpinists while he studied agriculture in Munich in 1919.
He joined the Nazi party in 1933 and got a job with the German Himalaya Foundation in 1936. In 1939, war was declared while he was on his way home from an expedition with four other men, including Heinrich Harrer. They were all ceased and imprisoned in India. Harrer, Aufschnaiter and a five other men attempted to escape unsuccessfully several times before they succeeded disguised as Indian workers. Ausfschnaiter was one of four men to reach Tibet in May 1944. By January 1946, Aufschnaiter and Harrer arrived in Lhasa with the aid of their knowledge of the Tibetan language. Aufschnaiter obtained a position with the Tibetan government and helped design a sewage system and hydroelectric power plant for the city. He implemented regulations for the rivers and a program of reforestation of the region. He and Harrer created the first map of Lhasa and he made many archeologically finds.
In 1950, the Chinese People's Liberation Army forced Aufschnaiter and Harrer to leave Lhasa along with the Dalai Lama. When Harrer continued to India, Aufschnaiter decided to stay in Gyantse. He left Tibet 10 months later.
Most of the rest of his life was spent in Nepal. He returned to Austria much later in life and died at the age of 73. You can view Peter Aufschnaiter's gravesite when you take a road trip, only 192 miles from the Innsbruck Hotel. He was buried in Kitzbühel on the 12th of October 1973.