Diego Giovannini and Franco 'Franz' Nicolini have recently completed the first non-mechanized link up of all 82 Alpine 4,000m summits that appear on the UIAA's official list.
Until the early 1990s there had been a number of serious attempts to climb all the 4,000m peaks of the Alps in a continuous effort. Unfortunately, to that time there was no definitive list; some opting for as low as 52 (the number of completely separate mountains), others adding more, with Alpine specialist Richard Goedecke listing a staggering 150 individual tops and bumps.
At the end of 1993, in an attempt to put an end to the debate, a joint UIAA and Italian Alpine Club committee came up with an 'official' list of 82, which they hoped would be used as the benchmark for future attempts. This new list came a little late for Simon Jenkins and Martin Moran, who earlier in the year made the first continuous traverse, climbing 74 summits from the Piz Bernina in the east to Barre des Ecrins in the west in a total of 52 days. They travelled completely under their own steam, walking, cycling and climbing a distance of 1,000km and making a height gain of over 62,000m,
No one had succeeded in climbing all 82 in a single project when Patrick Berhault and Philippe Magnon set off in the winter of 2004 for a continuous, self-propelled traverse. Sadly, this was not completed: Berhault fell to his death after the pair had completed 65 summits. In 2006 Nicolini took up the challenge and with Michele Compagnoni only made it to number 25 before bad weather stopped play.
From December 2006 to April 2007 the Slovenian guide, Miha Valic, climbed all 82 summits, but his tactics were rather different. Valic used a van to move around the Alps and wait out bad weather, choosing his peaks in no particular geographic order, as and when they were in condition. He had hoped to climb all 82 peaks in 82 days but this very difficult winter project ended up taking 102.
Giovannini and Nicolini, both guides from Italy's Trento region, opted to track from west to east, ending with the Bernina. They used no mechanized transport and completed the journey in an impressive 60 days, starting in late June. They were originally joined by Merko Mezzanotte, who had to give up with foot problems after 21 summits.
Giovannini has climbed Lhotse without oxygen, while Nicolini is well-known for his Dolomite enchainments, which include 106 peaks over 3,000m in 50 days, and 15 walls in the Brenta in just 13 hours. A friend who met Giovannini coming down from the Jorasses when about half way through the odyssey mentioned that 'he looked less tired than I do after a day's work in the office'.
This report was compiled with help from Luca Signorelli
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