Cesare Maestri

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Cesare Maestri

Cesare Maestri (born 2 October 1929) is an Italian mountaineer and writer.

He was born in Trento in the Italian province of Trentino. He began climbing in the Dolomites, where he repeated many famous routes, often climbing them solo and free,[1] and put up many new routes of the hardest difficulty, for which he was nicknamed the "Spider of the Dolomites". He became an Alpine Guide in 1952. His notable solos include the Solleder route on the Civetta, the Solda-Conforto Route on the Marmolada, and the southwest ridge of the Matterhorn in winter.

In 1959, Maestri, together with Cesarino Fava and Austrian guide Toni Egger, travelled to Patagonia to attempt the north-east ridge of the unclimbed Cerro Torre. The three climbed up a steep corner below the Col of Conquest (between Cerro Torre and Torre Egger), then Fava turned back and Maestri and Egger headed for the summit. Six days later Fava found Maestri lying face down and almost buried in the snow. They returned to base camp and claimed that Maestri and Egger had reached the summit but Egger had been swept to his death by an avalanche as they were descending.

Over time, many climbers have started doubting Maestri's 1959 account, as it became evident how difficult, even by today's standards, the alleged route is. Among the doubters are many well-known alpinists like, Carlo Mauri, who had failed to climb the mountain in 1958, Reinhold Messner,[2] and Ermanno Salvaterra,[3] who used to defend Maestri until having attempted the route himself. The criticism was also taken up by British climber and writer Ken Wilson, editor of Mountain magazine. Apart from the sheer hardness of the climb, the critics point out that Maestri's description of his route is detailed and accurate up to the high point where Cesarino Fava turned back, but vague and impossible to trace on the mountain thereafter; and that bolts, pitons, fixed ropes and other equipment abandoned by the 1959 expedition is plentiful up to the col, but absent thereafter.[4] Nevertheless, Maestri has consistently maintained his version of events,[5] as did Fava, who died in April 2008.[6]

In 1970, Maestri returned to Cerro Torre and climbed a new route on the south-east side of the mountain. Over two seasons Maestri used a petrol-driven compressor, weighing approximately 300 pounds, and thousands of feet of fixed ropes to drill bolts into the rock, some 400 in all. The resulting route became known as the "Compressor Route." The route's namesake can still be found hanging on the face of Cerro Torre 100 meters below the summit. On this second endeavour, Maestri stopped short of the summit's "ice mushroom", almost always covering the highest point.[7]

The "Compressor Route" was immediately controversial. Hand bolting of short, un-protectable sections of rock has long been an accepted practice in mountaineering. However, the use of a compressor, the excessive number of bolts, and their placement near naturally protectable features was considered to be far from reasonable. Mountain magazine ran a story titled “Cerro Torre: A Mountain Desecrated,” and the bolting of Cerro Torre prompted Reinhold Messner to write the essay "The Murder of the Impossible" [8]

On January 16, 2012 the climbers Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk made the first "fair-means" ascent of the south-east ridge of Cerro Torre. On their descent Kennedy and Kruk chopped about 120 bolts from the "Compressor Route," effectively removing it from the mountain. Days later, on January 21, 2012 the climber David Lama made the first free ascent (climbing) of the south-east ridge.

Werner Herzog made the film Scream of Stone in 1991 a dramatised version of the various ascents of Cerro Torre made by Cesare Maestri.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alpinist Magazine on Cesare Maestri
  2. ^ Messner, Reinhold (2009). Torre: Schrei aus Stein. Malik. 
  3. ^ Salvaterra, Ermanno. "The Ark of the Winds". Alpinist Magazine. 
  4. ^ Rolando Garibotti. "A mountain unveiled: a revealing analysis of Cerro Torre’s tallest tale". American Alpine Club. 
  5. ^ Buffet, Charlie. "Cesare Maestri: The Legend Roars ". National Geographic. 
  6. ^ Stefanello, Vinicio. "Ciao, Cesarino Fava". PlanetMountain.com. 
  7. ^ Cordes, Kelly. "Cerro Torre: Deviations from Reason". thecleanestline.com/. 
  8. ^ Lambert, Eric. "Near Boltless Ascent of Compressor Route". Alpinist. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kearney, Alan (1993). Mountaineering in Patagonia. Seattle USA: Cloudcap.