Lino Lacedelli 1925-2009

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 27/11/2009
Lacedelli (second from left) and friends. Carlo Caccia

Reinhold Messner considered him one of the foremost rock climbers of the 1950s, but to nearly everyone he will be best remembered for making the first ascent of the World's second highest mountain. Lino Lacedelli has passed away peacefully in his home town of Cortina, Italy, aged 83.

Lacedelli began climbing in his early teens and was soon spotted by Luigi 'Bibi' Ghedina, one of the best Dolomite climbers of his generation. The pair would go on to put up many new routes,

In 1946 Lacedelli was accepted into the prestigious Scioattoli - the Cortina Squirrels - founded at the start of the Second World War. He continued to climb hard and make first ascents into the early 1960s.

Ghedina and Lacedelli were noted for their amazingly fast repeat of the now classic Constantini-Apollonio South Face Direct (500m: V+ and A2, now VII+) on the Pilastro di Rozes, the first without a bivouac, and, with Guido Lorenzi, the first ascent of the South West Face of the Cima Scotoni in the Fanis Group. This last route, now free at VIII- though still rarely climbed as such, was for many years considered the hardest in the Dolomites.

The same pair also made the fifth overall but first one-day ascent of the classic Solda Route on the South West Face of the Marmolada di Penia. With Beniamino Franceschi, Lacedelli made the fourth ascent of the Gabriel-Livanos Diedre on the Cima su Alto in a mere eight hours (today, climbed free at VII-, the guidebook time for this 800m route is still 12 hours).

Later in his career, with Lorenzo Lorenzi, Albino 'Strobel' Michielli  and Gualtiero Ghedina, Lacedelli would make the first ascent of the now famous Squirrels Ridge, the outrageously exposed North West Arête of the Cima Ovest di Lavaredo. With Michielli and Claudio Zardini he spent four days climbing the overhanging 400m high South West Face of the Punta Giovannina in the Tofana Group, another huge tour de force that required much aid.

However, it was his brief foray into the Mont Blanc Range in 1951 with Bibi Ghedina that proved Dolomite climbers were equal to the great performers in the Western Alps, the pair making the second ascent of the Bonatti-Ghigo on the East Face of the Grand Capucin. Their 18-hour ascent, less than a month after Bonatti's four-day climb, stunned the mountaineering community.

Ghedina, Lacedelli and Lorenzi were obvious choices for Ardito Desio's 1954 K2 expedition because of their rock climbing prowess, but on the day injuries ruled out all but Lacedelli.

He proved his worth throughout the expedition and with the older and more experienced Achille Compagnoni (who died earlier this year aged 94) was in the chosen summit party.

Their success and subsequent fame is well-known, as is the bitter dispute that went on for over 50 years between them (though primarily Compagnoni) and Walter Bonatti. As Lacedelli explained in his book half a decade later, Compagnoni, worried about being upstaged by the young pretender, Bonatti, moved the summit camp further up the mountain from the pre-arranged location. This made it impossible for Bonatti, carrying the summit oxygen, to reach camp, and resulted in an unplanned night out at 8,100m, above the Shoulder, for Bonatti and the Pakistan porter Mahdi, ending any chances they may have had in reaching the top.

In later life Lacedelli ran the outdoor shop K2 Sports in Cortina, trekked to K2 Base Camp in 2004 and the following year was awarded Italy's highest honour, Knight of the Grand Cross.

The photograph shows (from left to right): Dino Piazza (a member of the famous Lecco Spiders); Lino Lacedelli; Pino Piazza (Dino's brother); unknown, and finally another famous member of the Lecco Spiders, Emilio Valsecchi.

 



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