Bonatti’s training program for climbing the North Face of Lavaredo in Winter, year 1953

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Then came demobilization (Bonatti was called up for compulsory national military service), and also winter, at first very snowy and then extremely cold. Except for Sundays, which I always spent in the mountains in good weather or bad, every day was for me empty and insignificant, made up of nothing but the same old things at the same times, the same routine in the same surroundings. How sad and useless it is to live like that! And to think the greater part of humanity is restricted nowadays in this way. But what is worse, those who choose to be different are often victimized. For my part I had already decided I would spend my life differently. Meanwhile, partly through longing and partly through rebellion, my thoughts continually turned to the north faces of the Lavaredo.

My training in preparation for this exploit was carried out in a quite unusual way. Every Saturday evening, without fail, I went with a friend to the foot of some difficult face in the Grigna to climb it next day at dawn after an icy overnight bivouac.

In my opinion there could be no better way to measure oneself against cold and the difficulties posed by the mountains, and to check one’s own limits while still staying within the bounds of safety. To put ourselves to the test, during each succeeding bivouac we reduced our equipment little by little and chose places that were more and more uncomfortable and exposed to bad weather. Naturally, with thermometer at hand, we checked the temperature carefully and recorded all our reactions to cold. In the end, without exposing ourselves to excessive danger, we gathered invaluable experience.

…but the experience we gained from it was invaluable. For example, we learned we could lighten our climbing rucksack considerably by carrying less food and clothing. And a simple eiderdown jacket would suffice instead of a complete down suit.

text from: “The Mountains of my life“, by Walter Bonatti.