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Stars that died 2010

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Walter Bonatti, Italian mountain climber, died he was 81.

Walter Bonatti  was an Italian mountain climber. He is noted for a solo climb of a new route on the south-west pillar of the Aiguille du Dru in August 1955 and the first solo winter ascent of the Matterhorn north face in 1965.

(22 June 1930 – Rome, 13 September 2011)

Life and career

Bonatti on Gasherbrum IV summit, 1958
Bonatti was born in Bergamo. Famed for his climbing panache, he pioneered little known and technically difficult climbs in the Alps, Himalayas and Patagonia. At the age of 21, Bonatti in 1951 made the first ascent of the Grand Capucin, an extraordinary red granite pinnacle in the Mont Blanc massif, from 20 to 23 July. This was the climb that brought him to public notice. Aged 18, he had made the fourth ascent of the formidable North Face of the Grandes Jorasses with very poor equipment over a period of two days. Among his notable climbs were a solo climb of a new route on the south-west pillar of the Aiguille du Dru in August 1955,[1] the first ever ascent of Gasherbrum IV in 1958[2] and the first solo winter ascent of the Matterhorn north face in 1965. Bonatti was awarded the French Legion d'Honneur for saving the lives of two fellow-climbers in a disaster in the Alps. He authored a number of books about climbing and mountaineering. Bonatti died of pancreatic cancer[3] in Rome on 13 September 2011 at the age of 81.[4]

K2 controversy

Bonatti was at the center of a climbing controversy about the first ascent of K2 by Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni. Along with Hunza climber Amir Mahdi, he carried oxygen cylinders to Lacedelli and Compagnoni at Camp IX for the summit attempt. Bonatti was later accused by Compagnoni of using some of the oxygen, causing the climbers to run out of oxygen on summit day. Using this supplemental oxygen would have been impossible for Bonatti, as he had neither mask nor regulator. Bonatti would cite two summit photos to support his response that Compagnoni had lied about running out of oxygen in route to the summit. Although Bonatti's account of the bivouac is supported by Lacedelli in K2: The Price of Conquest (2004), Lacedelli contends that the oxygen had in fact run out. However, he attributes this not to Bonatti's alleged use of the oxygen, but to the physical exertion of the climb causing the summit climbers to use more oxygen than expected.[citation needed]
Another aspect of the controversy was the Bonatti-Mahdi forced bivouac of July 30, 1954. Compagnoni's decision to place the final camp (IX) at a higher location than previously agreed caused the problem. When Bonatti and Mahdi climbed up to deliver oxygen to Compagnoni and Lacedelli for their summit attempt, Mahdi's condition had deteriorated. Unable to descend with Mahdi, Bonatti needed the shelter of Camp IX's tent. The tent was placed high up, over a dangerous traverse to the left - not at the agreed location. Unable to traverse safely to the tent, Bonatti and Mahdi endured a forced bivouac in the open at 8100 meters; it cost Mahdi his fingers and toes. Compagnoni gave the reasonable explanation that his decision to move the tent was to avoid an overhanging serac.[citation needed]
However, it is argued that he also had an ulterior motive: to avoid Walter Bonatti. Bonatti was in the best physical condition of all the climbers and the natural choice to make the summit attempt. If he had joined the summit team, he would likely have done so without the use of supplemental oxygen. If he had succeeded, any summit by Compagnoni would have been eclipsed. Although the Bonatti-Mahdi forced bivouac was not anticipated, Compagnoni intended to discourage Bonatti from reaching the tent. At 6:10 pm the next evening, Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli reached the summit of K2, using the supplemental oxygen Bonatti and Mahdi had brought them. Ardito Desio, in his final report, mentioned the forced bivouac only in passing. Mahdi's frostbite was an embarrassment to the expedition. The Italian government provided Mahdi with a small pension for his contribution and sacrifice on the first ascent of K2. Bonatti never reconciled with Compagnoni, owing to Compagnoni's allegedly false accusation that Bonatti used the oxygen intended for the summit attempt. He wanted to climb K2 "solo, alpine style, and without oxygen".[5] He might well have succeeded. Two decades later, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler astonished the mountaineering world by climbing Mount Everest without bottled oxygen.[citation needed]

Mountaineering achievements


The Mountaineering Books of Walter Bonatti
  • Le Mie Montagne (My Mountains), Walter Bonatti, Bologna: Zanichelli, 1961
  • I Giorni Grandi (The Great Days), Walter Bonatti, Verona: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1971
  • Magia del Monte Bianco (Magic of Mont Blanc), Walter Bonatti, Como: Massimo Baldini Editore, 1984
  • Processo al K2 (Trial on K2), Walter Bonatti, Como: Massimo Baldini Editore, 1985
  • La Mia Patagonia (My Patagonia), Walter Bonatti, Como: Massimo Baldini Editore, 1986
  • Un Modo di Essere (A way of Living), Walter Bonatti, Milan: dall'Oglio Editore, 1989
  • K2-Storia di un Caso (K2 - The Story of a Court Case), Walter Bonatti, Bergamo: Ferrari Editrice, 1995
  • Montagne di Una Vita (Mountains of a Life), Walter Bonatti, Milan: Baldini & Castoldi, 1995
  • K2-Storia di un Caso (K2 - The Story of a Court Case), Walter Bonatti, 2d ed. Milan: Baldini & Castoldi, 1996
  • In terre lontane, Walter Bonatti, Baldini & Castoldi, Milano, 1998 [1st ed 1997]
  • The Mountains of my Life, Walter Bonatti, Modern Library, 2001. ISBN 0-375-75640-X
  • K2. La verità. 1954-2004, Walter Bonatti, 2005, Baldini Castoldi Dalai editore. ISBN 88-8490-845-0.
  • K2. Lies and Treachery, Robert Marshall, 2009, Carreg Ltd. UK. ISBN 978-0-9538631-7-4.
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