Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Czech series #3 - Vilém Heckel

It pays to go through my old photo-books again. This great photograph of Czechoslovak steelworkers comes from a book I bought in Prague, 1982. A collection of photographs by Vilém Heckel that focusses on mountaineering in present-day hot spots like the Caucasus and Afghan Hindu Kush mountains. Beautiful material.
Vilém Heckel (1918 – 1970) was a Czech photographer. He devoted himself mainly to landscape photography, with special focus on the photography of mountains. In 1970, he died at Huascarán, Peru. Vilém Heckel was one of the founders of the genre of industrial and promotional photography in Czechoslovakia.
In 1970, a group of mountain climbers together with Heckel planned to visit Alaska. Their intention was thwarted by the Czechoslovak communist regime. Following the Prague Spring in 1968, it was almost impossible to travel to Western countries. The group changed their plan and decided to climb the peaks in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca. Heckel and several of his colleagues planned to leave the expedition and focus more on studying and documenting of Peruvian culture. However, after the death of one of the leaders of the expedition, climber Ivan Bortel, they were forced to stay in the camp with the rest of the expedition. On 1 June 1970, Heckel and his colleagues intended to separate from the rest of the group. Coincidentally, the avalanche caused by the Great Peruvian Earthquake buried their camp under Huascarán on 31 May 1970, the day before their departure. All of the members of the expedition died.


  1. Hey Daan, just an FYI and you may already know this. Vilém Heckel is holding a Hasselblad 500 series medium-format camera with a long telephoto lens. It's probably a Zeiss lens. Cliff

  2. Fantastic! (No, I didn't know...)
    Thanks, Cliff