" Il Grongo "
Enzo Cozzolino could have been the greatest of all, if even Reihnold Messner, the icon of the alpinism, said that he had never seen a stronger rock climber. But sometimes the destiny of a climber is not the one to live a long life, and Enzo passed away when he was still a boy, at the age of 23. But in his short carrier realized unbelievable exploits, often in free-solo. He was one of the "fathers" of the modern free-climb and probably the first who broke the extreme barrier of the seventh degree. He simply changed forever the way of climbing on rock , refusing artificial helps and facing even the most extreme passages only with his great strenth and beautiful techinique.
He was born in Trieste in 1949, and started climbing when he was still a teenager. First in Val Rosandra, the valley near Trieste used by climbers as a rock-gym, and then in the Civetta group, one of the most loved group of the Dolomites by rock climbers. In the first year he repeated the "classic" routes: Via Tissi on the Torre Venezia, Via Carlesso on the Torre Trieste, diedro Philipp-Flamm on the "wall of walls", the north-west face of Monte Civetta. Then his first winter ascent, the very difficult Via Visedott-Rudatis on Cima Busazza.
In the year 1968 he repeated some of the most difficult climbing routes in the Dolomites: Via Paolo VI on Pilastro di Rozes ( Tofane ), Spigolo and North face of Monte Agnèr, Via Soldà on Marmolada and then Torre Armena in the Agnèr group. In the winter season he realized two great exploits: Via Julia on the Tofana di Rozes and Spigolo Sud of Torre di Fanis.
The next season Enzo was already one of the strongest rock climbers, altough he wasn't even 20 years old. He started with the famous Via Lacedelli on Cima Scotoni ( Fanis group ), and then the climbs in free-solo that made him famous, all above the V degree. Among them we cannot avoid to mention the route on Spigolo d'Agnèr, 1600 m of free-solo climb in 5 hours and thirty minutes!
In 1970 he started to open new routes: the west edge of Spiz d'Agnèr Nord, the south face of Punta Chiggiato ( Pale del Focobon ), the south face of Spiz d'Agnèr Sud, the east face of Pala di San Martino and then one of his greatest masterpieces: the route on the huge dihedral on the north face of Piccolo Mangart di Coritenza, considered unclimbable by all the climbers of that period, now called Diedro Cozzolino and very famous as one of the toughest challenges in the Alps. He climbed this 800 meters vertical dihedral in perfect free-climb, using only a few nails for security.
The following year opened a lot of new routes: on the west face of Cima Busazza ( Civetta group ), the north face of Piz Popena and the west face of Terza Sorella ( Sorapiss ). And in winter another great exploit, the climb of the west face of Cima Scotoni ( Fanis group ).
For the summer of 1972 Enzo had great plans, and in june started an intense activity in the Dolomites. He found a new cimbing partner, Mario Zandonella, that had the same ideals and a very fine climbing tecnique. After the great exploit on Torre di Babele ( Civetta group - Via Soldà in free-solo ), on june 17 he was in the Rifugio Vazzoler with Mario preparing a new extreme route on the Torre Trieste, but the weather was bad so they decided to leave. While going down the weather suddenly changed, the clouds were going away and the sun was coming out. They wouldn't want to waste a nice day so they changed their plans and went to climb the route Friedrichsen-Giordani on the Torre di Babele, both in free-climb. They were almost on the top when Mario heard a strange sound above him: he raised his eyes and saw Enzo falling. A few seconds later his body was lying down there, 250 meters below.
Enzo Cozzolino will be always remembered for his strict ethic, for his extreme new routes, for his free-solo climbs and for his perfect tecnique. He really changed the concept of alpinism, bringing it into a new era.