08 November 2010

if you are to fall, at least make sure you fall from an impressive height

The couloir owed its name to a swashbuckling Italian climber, Giusto Gervasutti, who had made the first successful ascent of the canyon, in 1934. Not incidentally, Gervasutti later offered a definitive answer to the Mallory Question, Why do you want to climb:

The need is completely different for each individual.... It may take the form of a need to live heroically, or to rebel against restraint and limitation: an escape from the restricting circle of daily life, a protest against being submerged in universal drabness, an affirmation of the freedom of the spirit in dangerous and splendid adventure. Or it may well be the pleasure of physical fitness and moral energy, elegance of style and calculated daring; ordeals gaily faced with friends themselves as firm as rock, the hard life of the high huts, the happy relaxation on remote pastures as one smokes a pipe or sings mountain songs. It may be the search for an intense aesthetic experience, for exquisite sensations, or for man’s never satisfied desire for unknown country to explore, new paths to make. Best of all, it should be all these things together.

Gervasutti’s words were published posthumously, in 1947, one year after he plummeted off Mont Blanc du Tacul.

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