Reinhold Messner’s personal life has been as dramatic and eventful as his mountaineering achievements.
The death of his brother Günther has greatly affected him, especially with some accusations that he was responsible for his death.
Another area of interest in his life is his relationships, and in this article, we will look at all his notable relationships over the years.
Ursula Demeter (1972 to 1977)
Reinhold Messner and Uschi Demeter had a passionate but turbulent relationship in the 1970s. They met in 1969 during an expedition, bonded by their shared love of climbing.
Ursula Demeter was married to von Kienlin. She first met Messner when he moved in with them after the expedition to recover from the amputation of his frostbitten toes.
In 1972, Messner married Demeter, a Canadian photographer.
However, their marriage was strained by Messner’s frequent absences to pursue ambitious Himalayan climbs, leaving Demeter lonely at home.
The relationship reached a breaking point after Messner’s tragic Nanga Parbat expedition, where his brother Günther died, kept on haunting him.
A devastated Demeter tried supporting Messner through the aftermath. Still, with him consumed by grief and guilt, she felt helpless to change him.
Demeter filed for divorce in 1977, realizing she could not save the marriage. They separated that year with no reconciliation.
Demeter remained single, focusing on her photography career and mountaineering. Their passion could not overcome Messner’s climbing obsessions and personal demons in the wake of his brother’s death.
Messner had a relationship at the same time he was married to Demeter. He was in a relationship with Nena Holguin, a Canadian photographer who happened to be the mother of his first child, Layla, who was born a few years after his divorce from Demeter in 1981.
Sabine Stehle (2009 to 2019)
Reinhold Messner and Sabine Stehle had a long-term relationship lasting about 30 years. They met in the 1980s when Stehle was a textile designer from Vienna, and Messner was a famous climber and explorer.
They had three children together: Magdalena, Livia, and Simon. They married in 2009 in a private ceremony at Messner’s castle in South Tyrol. However, their marriage did not last long, and they divorced in 2019.
The reasons for their separation are not publicly known. Still, some sources suggest that Messner’s restless lifestyle and frequent travel may have contributed to their breakup.
Diane Schumacher (2021 to present)
In 2018, legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner crossed paths with textile designer Diane Schumacher at a museum in Bruneck, Italy.
Despite their 39-year age gap and vastly different backgrounds—he is known for scaling icy heights, she for weaving fabric—their mutual awe of the mountains lit a spark. This serendipitous meeting set the stage for an unexpected late-in-life romance.
Three years later, surrounded by the majestic peaks of South Tyrol, the pragmatic yet romantic couple privately exchanged vows, formalizing their commitment. Messner called it a “reasonable, necessary, legal act,” reflecting his complete devotion, while Diane brought warmth to their pragmatic union.
While Messner carries the bittersweet memories and four children of his past chapters, Diane offers a refreshing new perspective. Their age gap seems to fade in light of shared values and support.
Though still in the early pages, their story has a solid foundation in the passion, respect, and wonder of the environments that bonded them. As it progresses, their surprising love promises to be a heartwarming tale of connections forming by chance but evolving into something meaningful.
The tragic death of Reinhold Messner’s brother Günther during their 1970 Nanga Parbat expedition has cast a long shadow. Some criticized Messner for prioritizing summit ambitions over safety that day. The lingering accusations of abandoning his brother have weighed heavily on him.
Messner’s marriages have also faced public scrutiny, from his unconventional dynamic with ex-wife Ursula Demeter to the large age gap with current partner Diane Schumacher. His relationships provoke opinions, much like Messner’s polarizing persona.
Now 79 years old, the legendary mountaineer remains an active public figure and controversial in the climbing community. While divisive, there’s no denying the complex role relationships and the burdens of his past have shaped Reinhold Messner’s psyche. But he soldiered on, pursuing advocacy work even as criticisms persisted about his personal life choices and motivations.