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History of mountaineering and of the men who defied mountains - Part V

Umberto Fausto Silvestri ends the series of the great 19th century mountaineers. This first dossier is concluded with Walter Bonatti and Reinhold Messner, and will be followed by a second one, on the history of climbing.

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Walter Bonatti
Walter Bonatti


Walter Bonatti (Bergamo 22/6/1930; Roma 13/11/2011)

Named “Il Re delle Alpi” (that is "The king of the Alps"), he began his career in the Lombard Prealps in 1948.

In 1951 he conquered Mont Blanc, climbing the Gran Capucin wall.

In 1954 he was the youngest mountaineer participating in the K2 expedition.

In 1963, in mid-winter, he climbed the North face of the Grand Jorasses.

In 1965, once more in winter, he ended his mountaineering career with the solo ascent of the Cervino North.

After that, he became an explorer and science communicator.

Reinhold Messner
Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner (Bressanone 17 Settembre 1944) is a mountaineer, a climber, an explorer, and a writer.

At first, he became well-known in the mountain climbing world in 1968, when he free climbed the "Pilastro di Mezzo" (that is the Mid Pillar) of the Sass de la Crusc. In doing so, he brought the free climbing back into vogue, in a period in which the aid-climbing was practiced.

His name is linked to countless climbing and explorations, and he is widely known among the general public for being the first Mountaineer in the world who climbed all the 14 summits more of 8000 meters of altitude, often in extremely difficult conditions.

With his innovations first in the free climbing, then in the high altitude mountain climbing, he was one of the most important figure of the international mountaineering in the late '60s, early '70s.

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