Cristina Castagna

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Cristina Castagna
Born(1977-12-23)23 December 1977
Died18 July 2009(2009-07-18) (aged 31)
Other namesEl Grio
Occupationnurse, mountaineer
Known formountaineering

Cristina "El Grio" Castagna (23 December 1977 – 18 July 2009) was an Italian mountaineer and the first Italian woman to climb Makalu.

Castagna was born in San Quirico di Valdagno.[1] She died in 2009 on Broad Peak, after reaching the summit.[2]

Broad Peak incident[edit]

Cristina Castagna and Giampaolo Casarotto planned to climb Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I in their 2009 expedition. Before leaving home, in a prophetic note later found by relatives, Castagna asked to be left on the mountains in case of severe accident.

The same day Fabrizio Zangrilli,[3] Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag[4][5] from Dynafit Gore-Tex-Team were climbing the mountain and spent a few stops with the Italian duo. On 18 July at 3 pm local time, Castagna and Casarotto managed to reach the summit safely, despite severe weather conditions that had slowed the two climbers for nearly ten hours.[2]

During the descent, at 7,800 metres (25,600 ft), Castagna slipped down, gaining momentum and stopping several metres below in a crevasse.[6] Giampaolo Casarotto eventually managed to reach and try to rescue her, to no avail.[2][7][8][9][10]

The same day, more than 30 people attempted to reach the summit and no summit was initially confirmed.[clarification needed] Her body rests at 7,800 metres (25,600 ft), making recovery difficult for helicopters. The family, following her last will, decided to not attempt a recovery, thus avoiding risking other mountaineers' and porters' lives.[11]

Castagna was remembered during an Italian Senate meeting[12][13] by Lega Nord senators Paolo Franco[14] and Gianvittore Vaccari.

A month after Castagna's death, following an Italian expedition in Hindu Kush, Tarcisio Bellò solo-climbed an unnamed peak and named it after her.[15][16]

Early life[edit]

Cristina was born near San Quirico di Valdagno, near Vicenza. Youngest of four children,[17] during her childhood, she began discovering mountains with her father and her uncle.[1][18] After a technical degree she became an nurse[18] in the ER hospital in Vicenza, a job she kept for all her life.

After a brief interest into volleyball, in her twenties she began climbing and ski mountaineering[1] with CAI. A few years later, she would be heading to the North Col.[1]

"El Grio", the dreamcatcher cricket[edit]

During childhood Castagnawas a lively girl, always in motion, so her father gave her the nickname "Grio"[19] (Cricket). She liked the nickname so much she kept it in her adult life ("El Grio") often in conjunction with "acchiappasogni" (dreamcatcher). She was also an avid reader and writer.[2][20][21] Following the Makalu feat,[22] she began to appear on Italian national news[23] and newspapers. Nevertheless, she kept working as a nurse, climbing in her spare time, and initially at her own expense. Although she had several sponsors, (notably she was in Salewa AlpineXtrem team[24]) she never became fully a professional climber by status.[25] She also cooperated as alpini nurse and was enrolled to the National Alpini Association[26] and to CAI.[27]

After her death, Jorge Egocheaga, Iñaki Ochoa's climbing mate, revealed her role in his rescue on the Dhaulagiri glacier.[28][29][30][31]

Climbing achievements[edit]

Cristina Castagna was the first Italian woman to climb Makalu and at the time of her death, remained the youngest Italian woman to climb an eight-thousander (Shishapangma) at 27 years. In 2003, during an expedition headed by Tarcisio Bellò along with Mario Vielmo], she met Giampaolo Casarotto, who would later be her climbing partner for many expeditions. The Mount Everest attempt ended at 7,800 metres (25,600 ft)

In 2004 she climbed again with Vielmo, this time to the summit of Shishapangma, along with Michele Fait.[1] In 2005 she climbed Gasherbrum II, alongside Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner[1] In 2006 she attempted to climb Lhotse,[32] again with [and Silvio Mondinelli, Marco Confortola and Giampaolo Corona. However, cold weather and frostbite drove her back at 8,120 metres (26,640 ft). In 2008 came the successful Makalu attempt, with Casarotto. At 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) she was struck by the cold but met Waldemar Nicleviczand Irivan Burda who helped her. On the 11th of May she became the first Italian woman to reach the summit of Makalu,[16] but suffered seriously frostbitten feet that would leave her in hospital for weeks.

In her last trip, she planned to climb both Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I along with Casarotto, but died during the descent after reaching the summit of Broad Peak.[2] The Italian press agency Ansa mentioned her death in the prominent events of 2009 for Italy.[33]

Notable climbs[edit]

Humanitarian work[edit]

In 1999 Castagna served as a nurse in Valona during Italian government humanitarian mission "Missione Arcobaleno" in Albania.[16][34] An eye hospital service, specialized in early cataract treatment, has since been created in Alepe, Ivory Coast to remember Castagna.[1][16][35]

Places and routes[edit]

  • Cristina Castagna peak, 5.311 metres (17.42 ft) Hindu Kush, first ascent by Tarcisio Bellò, August 10, 2009[15]
  • Cristina Castagna eye service, Alepè, Ivory Coast, an eye hospital.[35]
  • Cristina Castagna mountaineering Center, Gothulti, Pakistan,[36][37][38] in progress.
  • Via Fragile Esistenza (route in memory of Castagna),[39][40] Campanile di Scagina, Piccole Dolomiti, Veneto, Italy. By Mario Brighente, Simone Gianesin ,Bottegal, Gino Dal Cero, 2009


On 1, July 2010 CAI Valdagno and Recoaro Terme sections published a biography by Massimo Fontana, on Castagna's life and achievements.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Massimo Fontana, Cristina Castagna, L'acchiappasogni, CAI Valdagno e CAI Recoaro Terme Archived 2011-07-22 at
  2. ^ a b c d e f Giampaolo Casarotto accident report back in Italy
  3. ^ Fabrizio Zangrili K2, Broad Peak & Latok II Rescue : Summer 2009 Wrap Up
  4. ^ Zwei alpine Grenzgänger: Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag on Broad Peak (in German) Archived 2009-11-11 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Wettlauf mit dem Tod: Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag (in German)
  6. ^ Broad Peak report
  7. ^ Muore Cristina Castagna
  8. ^ Cristina confirmed lost on Broad Peek
  9. ^ Giampaolo Casarotto on Cristina's death[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Broad, la Castagna precipita dopo la cima
  11. ^ Rispetto del suo volere Rimarrà sempre lassù
  13. ^ Italian Senate meeting n.249 abstract: K2 and Castagna
  14. ^ Commemorazione Cristina Castagna from Paolo Franco Site Archived 2012-03-31 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b Pakistan, una cima per la Castagna
  16. ^ a b c d Castagna Biography on Progetto Alepe Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ El Grio riposa sul Karakorum Valdagno piange Cristina
  18. ^ a b Vicenza. Precipita in un crepaccio sul K3, è morta "el grio" Cristina Castagna
  19. ^ Non si conquista la vetta, ma se stessi
  20. ^ "Cristina's death on ilsole24ore national newspaper". Archived from the original on 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  21. ^ Premio Calastoria (in memoriam)
  22. ^ a b News.html First italian woman on Makalu
  23. ^ Italian state interview from Corriere della Sera website
  24. ^ Salewa note about Cristina Castagna death[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Cristina Castagna, la piccola vicentina che guarda il mondo dall'alto Archived 2007-06-25 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Era iscritta alla Sezione di Valdagno, Cristina Castagna morta sul Karakorum. Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Cai Valdagno Archived 2008-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Va por ti, Iñaki, por Miss Go y por Cristina: Jorge Egocheaga remembers Cristina (in Spanish)
  29. ^ K2, vetta a sorpresa per Egocheaga: Jorge Egocheaga on Cristina during his attempt to K2 summit
  30. ^ Egocheaga, feliz en la montaña y con sus gentes (in Spanish)
  31. ^ Jorge Egocheaga ALPINISTA Y MEDICO : "La muerte de un ser querido es más dura que la propia muerte"
  32. ^ Lhotse attempt with Confortola, Mondinelli, Casarotto Archived 2012-11-27 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Ansa italian Photostory for 2009
  34. ^ Italian Alpine Club page on Cristina Archived 2008-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ a b Cristina Castagna Eye hospital service Archived 2010-04-12 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Climbing Center Cristina Castagna
  37. ^ Climbing Center Cristina castagna
  38. ^ Camminate sui monti nel nome di Castagna
  39. ^ Via Fragile Esistenza, topos by Muroduro Archived 2013-02-18 at
  40. ^ Via Fragile Esistenza, topos by Rampegoni

External links[edit]