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

Mountaineering from the beginning to the '70s: protagonists,  features, ways.

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History of mountaineering

Mountaineering turns into a sporting discipline.   

Over the ensuing century were climbed many of Alps highest peaks: Mount Rosa, the Monviso,  the Marmolada, and, finally, the Cervino, climbed by the English Edward Whymper after a tough contest with other mountaineers, some of whom died in a tragic accident.

At that time were founded the first alpine clubs, that will constitute the basis for the modern mountaineering and the sport climbing. Italian and French mountaineers will excel for many years in these disciplines.                                                              

However, after the First World War, German and Austrian climbers will be the most enthusiast practicers of the emerging "sport climbing", founding climbing schools, for a systematic training.

Italy rose to the challenge with some great personalities, as Emilio Comici and Luigi Micheluzzi, for example. These two mountaineers, with the Austrian brothers Franz and Toni Schmid and the French Jacques Lagarde and Lucien Devies, accomplished many big challenges. 

While in 1938 the Italian rope team composed by Riccardo Cassin, Ugo Tizzoni and Gino Esposito, climbed the Northern face of the Grandes  Jorasses, up the  Walker Spur, the German mountaineers Heckmair and Vorg and the Austrian Harrer and Kasperek climbed the Eiger (Oberland Bernese), which claimed many lives until then.

History of mountaineering

The world's attention

In these years mountain climbing has met with success, and mountaineers were growing in numbers. They will be regarded as heroes, and finally, in 1932, the mountaineering became an Olympic-type sport.

After the war, some technical innovations appeared, as the VIBRAM sole, and many new types of pitons.

It was the time of the big solo climbs and of the challenging winter ascents. During the 1930's mountaineering has aroused most interest in the media, that were interested more in tragedies and debates than in information.

History of mountaineering

The first climbing

After the war began the era of the extraeuropean explorations, after the pioneering attempts of the "Duca degli Abruzzi" (on the Baltoro glacier, in Pakistan) and of Mallory and Irvin on the Everest, during the '20 and '30.

In a few years, all the most important eight-thousands-meter peaks were climbed, except for the Shisa Pangma, that, for political reasons was climbed only in 1964, by Chinees mountaineers. Among all, the Everest was climbed in 1953 by Hillary e Tenzing, and the K2 (the hardest one) was climbed in 1954 by the Italian Compagnoni, Lacedelli and….Bonatti. Such climbing for a long time, and almost up until our day, was the object of acrimonious debates and recriminations.

These expeditions were accomplished at great expense and using oxygen tanks and fixed ropes.




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