Cerro Torre- the lie and the desecration

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sandstone conglomerate

climber
sharon conglomerate central
May 9, 2009 - 03:37pm PT
The Bridwell article link in the AAJ seems to be f**ked. that sucks because it looked like a good read.
aguacaliente

climber
May 9, 2009 - 07:43pm PT
The Bridwell AAJ pdf link works for me. Or just go to http://www.americanalpineclub.org/aajsearch and type "bridwell cerro torre" into the AAJ search box. You have to use the AAJ search box, not the upper box that searches the AAC web site.
lucasignorelli

climber
Torino, Italy
May 10, 2009 - 12:49am PT

>Did anyone else on Maestri's team that put up the Compressor >Route ever have anything to say [publicly or privately] whether >or not anyone had actually stood on the summit on that attempt ?

They stated (and, for all I know) continue to maintain that they summited. By the way, "2000 metri della nostra vita", the book that Maestri wrote on the 1970 experience (co-authored by his wife Fernanda, an interesting book that in some way anticipated some of the questions that have become so relevant in the current evalution of mountaineering, like the role of spouses and non-climbing relatives) states clearly that the summit (and the ice tower) were climbed.

Then of course Maestri told to Messner (in fact, Messner says that Maestri told him) that he did not, but to me it seems all part of Maestri deliberate shock tacticts when people start to annoy him.

There's however a controversy related to the descent. In the book, Maestri says that on the summit it suddenly decided to break every single bolt of the route (a plan than he himself admits was "childish and devious"). The he says that after breaking 20 or 30 of them he decided against it (by himself, I mean). But Alimonta later on revealed that the issue had been much more convoluted - after Maestri broke a couple of dozen of bolts, he and Claus told him that this nonsense was putting them all in danger, they were all tired and wanted to go down as soon as possible. Maestri insisted (he had stated from the beginning that he was the leader), and an huge argument erupted, with Alimonta and Claus threatening to leave him alone if he did not stop.

As far as I know Maestri never commented on this (but I may be wrong, I'm no Cerro Torre expert)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 10, 2009 - 08:30am PT
Luca- Are you saying that Maestri sought to erase the Compressor Route on the way down?

This seems like a perfect ploy to account for any irregularities described by the next party. Do you consider it fact that he removed some bolts from the route leading to the quarrel that you describe?

The chopped placements would seem to be unmistakable up in the area of Bridwell's rivet ladder and elsewhere.

lucasignorelli

climber
Torino, Italy
May 10, 2009 - 10:59am PT
Steve:

>Luca- Are you saying that Maestri sought to erase the Compressor >Route on the way down?

That's what he wrote in the book and that's what was reported by Alimonta and Claus later. Personally, I've some difficulty believing they were all lying, as this would give Maestri a bit too much credit as a conspirator... :)

The main difference is that in the book (and the interviews) Maestri says that he recognized spontaneously the idea was childish and stupid - it was basically "I've spent so much time and effort putting this route, it's MINE, so I don't want anyone else using it...". So he gave up. Alimonta's version is that he was hell bent on smashing every single bolt down to the base of the Torre, and he and Claus at some point told him something "Do you want to kill us or what?" (the weather was closing in and they were all tired and hungry). They went up almost to the point of fighting, then Maestri gave up.

The main difference between Maestri's version and the story reported by his mates is that in the latter he may have smashed far less bolts. However, Maestri talks about bolts on the headwall, and NOT placement on the ice tower - the doubt about him summiting in 1970 remains (in all honesty, while I think the 1958 climb undecidable, I believe he summited in 1970. My opinion).

>This seems like a perfect ploy to account for any >irregularities described by the next party. Do you consider it >fact that he removed some bolts from the route leading to the >quarrel that you describe?

Frankly, I just think Maestri was, at the time, the closest thing to a real life Captain Achab you may figure out. He was obsessed on climbing the Torre again, and he was obsessed in doing it on his own terms, and he was obsessed by the idea to humiliate everyone who had doubted the 1958 climb. He didn't just wanted to win - he wanted to triumph (in some way he DID triumph - his return to Madonna di Campiglio in 1970 is still the stuff of legends). So, yes, I think he removed the bolts, and he really wanted to destroy the entire route. Not to cover his own tracks - he wanted to do it because it was HIS route.

>The chopped placements would seem to be unmistakable up in the >area of Bridwell's rivet ladder and elsewhere.

Just for the records - Marco Pedrini (another gifted climber, and the first to solo the Compressor Route in 1985 - died the year aftewards descending from the Drus) confirmed to have seen several smashed bolts above the compressor. Again - this just mean that Maestri reached the summit ice tower, is not a proof that they summited.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 10, 2009 - 01:50pm PT
Thanks Luca!

You have such a rich perspective and wealth of information! Thanks for sharing it with us.

The Ahab comparison is right in line with the way that I see him, too. Dogged, proud and tenacious.

Is that account written by Maestri and his wife available in english?
lucasignorelli

climber
Torino, Italy
May 10, 2009 - 02:15pm PT
Steve G.

Not sure, the book is this one

http://www.vivaldaeditori.it/index.php?evt[catalogue-showProduct]&id=230

It's interesting for Fernanda's perspective (at the time climbers spouses didn't got much voice in the sport's literature, so it was in some way an ahead of its time book). On the other hand, people disliking Maestri's arrogance may find the book difficult to bear (it's beautifully written however, at least in Italian).

Another good Maestri's book is "Se La Vita Continua" (If Life Goes On), the follow up of the "2000 metri). I don't think it was ever translated, but I may be wrong.
rolo

Boulder climber
chalten
May 20, 2009 - 05:10am PT
Thanks to Jim for the excellent write up, which came out at a very timely time, the 50th anniversary of the ascent of the first 300 meters of a dihedral on the east face of Cerro Torre...

In case some might be interested, Messner just wrote a book on the matter. It was published in German a couple of months ago:

http://www.amazon.de/Torre-Abenteuer-Reinhold-Messner-Tragödien/dp/389029359X

in Italian just recently:

http://www.corbaccio.it/libro-pp.asp?editore=Corbaccio&idlibro=6587&titolo=GRIDO+DI+PIETRA

I dont know if Ken Wilson/Batonwicks and/or the Mountaineers plan to translated it into english.

The book has no "new material", and unfortunately does not credit nor quote the sources, has a number of mistakes and deficient bibliography, but since people pay attention to anything Reinhold says it is a welcome addition, and does help "close" the case, particularly in Italy where, unlike in the rest of the world, resistance to admitting the "shortcomings" of one of their "regional institutions" (Maestri) has been particularly fierce: just ask Ermanno Salvaterra the amount of grief he has received for coming out three years ago to question Maestri in public!!!

Messner presented the Italian edition of the book just before the Trento Film Festival, an english subtitled video can be seen here:

http://www.trentofestival.it/webtv/ita/scheda.php?idFilm=330&bck=1

Other non-subtitled (in italian) videos of Messner and Ermanno discussing the subject can be seen here for Messner:

http://video.gazzetta.it/?vxSiteId=f89d11d6-1424-420d-8ebb-23904200f68a&vxChannel=AltrisportNews&vxClipId=2570_52a65c52-35a2-11de-855c-00144f02aabc&vxBitrate=300

and here for Ermanno:

http://video.gazzetta.it/?vxSiteId=f89d11d6-1424-420d-8ebb-23904200f68a&vxChannel=AltrisportNews&vxClipId=2570_92f0d792-35a2-11de-855c-00144f02aabc&vxBitrate=300

For those that might not know, Ermanno climbed Cerro Torre 5 times, although reducing all the time and effort the has devoted to the peak in the number of times he reached the last inches of the peak is a major understantement.

In an Italian forum Ermanno suggests to the "believers" to go up there, to Cerro Torre, and have a look. Not as a negative comment trying to discount those that cannot go up there, but as a positive, since the truth of what happened becomes painfully obvious when seeing the terrain and comparing it to all the original descriptions of the supposed ascent. Obviously the first person to experience this was Jim, with John and Jay in 1976.

http://www.forum.planetmountain.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=38100&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=messner&start=20

Ermanno also suggest to the "believers" to participate with "concrete" stuff. It would be great to read a well researched piece -with concrete arguments, references, quotes, bibliography and etc- countering each and every point of Jim Donini's recent write up, Ken Wilson's many articles, Tom Dauer's book, Messner's book, my 2004 AAJ article, etc, etc. It is unfortunate that the likes of Lucas, or Elio Orlandi or others have not been willing to pick up the task.

Unfortunately Ermanno did not upload the english subtitled version of a film he made partly about this subject, but some might find it interesting anyways. The opening aerial footage is worth it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGlnBaqC6kw&feature=PlayList&p=1EADDAD33A8FC18E&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=10


cheers
rolo




donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2009 - 07:06am PT
Thanks Rolo for the bibliography. Your article in the AAJ is THE definitive statement about the controversy.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
May 20, 2009 - 10:31am PT
Wow!
That's a bunch of good links Rolo. Thanks.
(Been a while since we met at Torre summiter Mike Clifford's house, saw him yesterday, cheers.)


Climbing abounds with poignant stories, but few even come close to the tales of the Torre. With the complex and emotional nature of it's history how lucky we are as climbers to have such monuments to both the greatest strengths AND weaknesses within the human spirit.

I cannot imagine a more arresting example.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 20, 2009 - 10:33am PT
Rolo.....YOU should write this book of which you speak. Certainly. Your 04 article is incredible.

thanks very much, Peter Haan
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 21, 2012 - 10:29am PT
More background on the Cerro Torre controversy...
Lovegasoline

Trad climber
Sh#t Hole, Brooklyn, NY
Jan 21, 2012 - 12:52pm PT
Thanks Rolo for the bibliography. Your article in the AAJ is THE definitive statement about the controversy.

Logically, how can there be a 'definitive statement' about a controversy?
EdBannister

Mountain climber
13,000 feet
Jan 21, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
Jim,

you may be right, but

Dr. Walter Bonaiti himself sat me down one day on the subject, face to face, fake teeth, big smile, all emphaticly expressive Walter....
He was a joy to deal with, always happy, and was always in a really fantastic suit... Italian. I had known him for a couple years when he said hey listen, i want to talk to you about this, and for the first time i had ever seen, Walter Bonaiti, got serious.

His opening statement: "He did it, he summited."

The total absence of gear and difference of the route are supported by the report of entirely different accumulations of snow and ice, Walter referred to Maestri encountering many meters thick plastered freaking ideal, terrain alering conditions, where on previous and later attempts no similar summit enabling conditions existed....

You have seen it Jim, and you know the area is capable of wildly variable conditions, Birdwell gets away with a summit bivvy with a client not far away...., Maestri got miles of terrain altering perfect conditions, or whatever it was that he told Walter was "ideal"... could this explain the differnces in gear not left behind because it later melted and fell?

and next time around.... he took the compressor because the manufacturer sponsored the trip, a climbers scheme to get the trip financed!

I was not there when he did, or did not do it, you have been there, and have more info than anybody, but you still don't know what the conditions were on that day.... and whether or not, it got done.


Even Walter Bonaiti, emphaticly, emploringly tried to convice me, it did.

And come to think of it, he was in a pretty good place to make the call, he knew the guy well and had every reason to come down on the other side.

But, you still are probably right!

All your contributions well appreciated !

Ed
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Jan 21, 2012 - 06:35pm PT
Nice thread that seems quite spot on.
iep

climber
Feb 15, 2012 - 08:34am PT




looking real villainous in those pictures..


quoting Ron from the first page:

Maestri was a master, but things went bad. Still, heroes and villains are often a lot closer to each other than we would care to believe.

enzolino

climber
Galgenen, Switzerland
Feb 15, 2012 - 09:39am PT
In an Italian forum Ermanno suggests to the "believers" to go up there, to Cerro Torre, and have a look. Not as a negative comment trying to discount those that cannot go up there, but as a positive, since the truth of what happened becomes painfully obvious when seeing the terrain and comparing it to all the original descriptions of the supposed ascent. Obviously the first person to experience this was Jim, with John and Jay in 1976.

http://www.forum.planetmountain.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=38100&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=messner&start=20

Ermanno also suggest to the "believers" to participate with "concrete" stuff. It would be great to read a well researched piece -with concrete arguments, references, quotes, bibliography and etc- countering each and every point of Jim Donini's recent write up, Ken Wilson's many articles, Tom Dauer's book, Messner's book, my 2004 AAJ article, etc, etc. It is unfortunate that the likes of Lucas, or Elio Orlandi or others have not been willing to pick up the task.
Rolando Garibotti and Salvaterra still don't understand one basic issue.
The point of discussion is not about facts, but their interpretation and the assumptions on which such interpretations are based.
The technology of Maestri's and Egger time it's not an argument to disproof the '59 ascent. So, this request to go to Cerro Torre, doesn't change the issue.

The inconsistency between the Maestri's account and what has been observed on Cerro Torre it is indeed an argument. And nobody questioned Salvaterra descriptions. But that argument used as a proof of Maestri's lie is based on the "wrong" assumption that human memory is an exact science. You cannot dissect the recollections of someone, who had a traumatic experience on a mountain where he lost a partner and almost died, and use them as the infallible and accurate description of an experience.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Feb 15, 2012 - 09:47am PT
Wow what a post. Glad I read it.
TWP

Trad climber
Mancos, CO
Mar 1, 2012 - 08:42am PT
There was a climber named Donini
Mighty proud of his horse-size ....

No sign of Maestri high on the Torre
Egger's bones far below and gory

Donini found all this odd
Pronounced Cesare a fraud

When the Italian returned with his Compressor,
He removed all doubt what he was about,
CM the Italian lesser.

Stallion Donini the bester.
KabalaArch

Trad climber
Starlite, California
Mar 2, 2012 - 12:46am PT
When I was in school, I was present at Jim Bridwell's small and intimate presentation at Berkeley's Marmot Mtn Works; then Steve Brewer's slide show at another, larger Berkeley venue.

I may have passed something in this thread, but it would be cool if they were to post a few words here. I was entranced by their accounts of hooking up after their partners bailed after a month of storm; Jim losing his gear cache at the base of his intended route after avalanche burial.

Mostly, I was blown away by a 3 day alpine ascent that had taken...what? more than a month to establish? (I think I still have the Mtn #24...I definately have the issue which featured Donnini's FA of T.Egger.

Anyone been up Pt Herron lately?

Mighty Hiker - I almost made it to 84*N. The near solistace sun did appear to maintain a near steady azimuth above the horizon - but the colors of its day would begin with pastel saffrons, hold to azure, then fade into lavenders after a prolonged amber.

I guess I sound like an interior decorator.

As close as it felt, walking to the North Pole would be like walking from my home to LA. About 360 miles. Doable, but not as a dayhike. We'll leave that challenge to the next generation.
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