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Epiphany on Monte Rosa East wall
Trip Report

Epiphany on Monte Rosa East wall

 
Epiphany on Monte Rosa East wall

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Verbania, Italy, Europe

Lat/Lon: 45.97406°N / 7.88269°E

Object Title: Epiphany on Monte Rosa East wall

Date Climbed/Hiked: Jan 6, 1980

Activities: Mountaineering, Big Wall

Season: Winter

 

Page By: gabriele

Created/Edited: Sep 14, 2007 / Jul 7, 2011

Object ID: 336828

Hits: 5009 

Page Score: 86.85%  - 23 Votes 

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Antecedent :

End of December 1980, I was spending some days, with my wife in my just bought caravan, in the Valley of Champoluc.
Some friends of ours, passing their Xmas holidays in Gressoney, invited us to spend the last night of the year.
Coming back at 3 o'clock we were hit by a strong wind storm and, for the whole night our caravan went on swinging ...
Fine dicembre 1980, sto passando le vacanze di Natale con mia moglie nella roulotte, appena comprata, in val d'Ayas
Alcuni nostri amici che avevano una casa a Gressoney ci invitano a festeggiare il fine anno.
Tornando indietro, verso le 3 del mattino, siamo investiti da una violenta tempesta di neve che ha poi fatto dondolare la roulotte per tutta la notte

History of an unsuccessfully rescue operation

January 4th 1981 at night, a phone call from one of my mountain friends : "Giorgio Brianzi is missing on the East wall of Monte Rosa"
We knew that our friend Giorgio Brianzi, member of the Club Alpino Accademico Italiano (the Elite of Italian climbers), was training for an expedition to LhoTse, so, together with another members of that expedition (Giampietro Volpi from Legnano), had decided to climb the Canalone Marinelli in winter.
The phone call was a forward of a one sent by the other members of the expedition that hadn't the possibility (for their job) to go with Giorgio: they were asking help to make a research/rescue operation.
4 gennaio 1981, alla sera una telefonata da un mio abituale compagno di cordata : "Giorgio Brianzi è disperso sulla Est del Rosa"
Sapevamo che il nostro amico stava preparando una spedizione al Lhotse e che aveva deciso di salire il Canalone Marinelli per allenamento.
La telefonata era il seguito di una telefonata di altri membri della spedizione, che non avevano potuto andare con lui per motivi di lavoro: chiedevano persone per andare a cercarlo o soccorrerlo


January 6th 1981, at 4 o'clock, with 3 other friends of mine, I started toward Macugnaga.
At about 6 o'clock we were knocking at the door of the Chief of the Guides of Macugnaga and asking him "where is the helicopter" :
the answer was the best beginning of the day : "meteo forecast are bad so I didn't ask for it !"
Meanwhile our friends from Cantù (the town sponsoring the expedition to LhoTse) arrived.
6 gennaio 1981 : alle 4, con 3 amici, partiamo per Macugnaga.
Alle 6 circa bussiamo alla porta del Capo delle Guide e gli chiediamo dove sia l'elicottero.
La risposta è stato il migliore inizio della giornata : "non l'ho chiamato perchè le previsioni del tempo sono brutte"


A fast phone call to the Scuola Militare Alpina of Aosta to ask an helicopter and the answer was : at 8 o'clock you'll get it.
At 8 o'clock, punctually, the helicopter was ready to pick up and carry us to the low part of Canalone Marinelli.
We put on our winter gear (at that time not as fine as now) and, roped, with the ice-axe in our hands and crampons on our feet we started the adventure.
Telefonata rapida alla Scuola Militare Alpina di Aosta e la risposta, rapida : "alle 8 l'elicottero sarà lì"
Alle 8, puntuale, l'elicottero era pronto a caricarci e a portarci nella parte bassa del Canalone.
Mettiamo gli indumenti pesanti (non belli come quelli di adesso), ci leghiamo, mettiamo i ramponi e, piccozza in mano, partiamo per l'avventura


The first travel brought me, 5 members of LhoTse expedition and the Chief of the Guides along the Canalone till a site where it could lean the skids (at about 2700m) on the snow allowing us to jump down.
Few second after the helicopter went back to carry my 3 friends that couldn't come with us due to the insufficient load capacity of the machine.
We were in the fog, at about -30° degrees, the perfect conditions to make a rescue ... we started immediatly climbing along the channel, having only the time to hear the Chief of the Guides talking, by radio, with the pilot and telling him : "after descharging the 3 last ones, come to take me back home, the "civili" (civils) will come back without help"
Il primo viaggio porta me, 5 della spedizione e il capo delle Guide lungo il Canalone fino a trovare un posto in cui appoggiare la parte anteriore dei pattini (a circa 2700m) un salto e ci siamo.
Immediatamente l'elicottero riparte per andare a prendere gli altri 3 che non ci stavano (l'elicottero era grosso ma c'era un limite).
Eravamo nella nebbia, con 30° sotto zero, condizioni perfette per un soccorso ... partiamo immediatamente dopo aver sentito il Capo delle Guide che, via radio, comunicava al pilota di "appena scaricati gli altri 3, passatemi a prendere, i "civili" si arrangeranno"


A little angry but resolute we went on: in less the 1h and a half we were at about 4000m, in the area of the big crevasses that cut horizontaly the whole wall, and started to cross to and from all the crevassed area looking for some signs of human presence, even under the snowdrifts.
The few words we exchanged were "Fantastic snow, Giorgio was right to climb it in this season ..."
Un po' incazzati ma risoluti saliamo, in meno di 1 ora e mezza siamo a circa 4000m, nella zona dei grossi crepacci che tagliano orizzontalmente tutta la parete, e incominciamo a girovagare in lungo e in largo tra i crepacci cercando traccie di presenza umana, anche sotto i cumuli di neve. Le uniche parole che ci scambiamo sono "Giorgio l'aveva azzeccata, le condizioni sono splendide in questa stagione ..."
Canalone Marinelli
 

In a rare moment of visibility we could see the other 3 ones (my team) climbing beyond the big seracs under the Punta Gnifetti, in a really extremely dangerous area; we called them shouting and telling them to get out from ther crossing toward the channel to get our starting position and there wait for us back.
In un raro momento di visibilità vediamo gli altri 3 sotto i grandi seracchi della Gnifetti, in una zona estremamente pericolosa.
Urlando a squarciagola li dirigiamo verso il canale per raggiungere la nostra posizione di partenza e tornare poi insieme


At about 4 o'clock the sky was already getting dark, so we decided to come back, in a very short time we met our friends and got back to the wide crevassed area that joins the Canalone Marinelli with the Ghiacciaio del Belvedere
Running on the bottom of the crevasses at about 7:30 o'clock we arrived to Rifugio Zamboni and less than half an hour later to the Belvedere.
Alle 4 del pomeriggio, circa, stava diventando scuro, decidiamo di scendere.
Rapidamente recuperiamo i nostri soci e scendiamo alla giunzione fra il Canalone e il Ghiacciaio del Belvedere.
Camminando rapidamente sul fondo dei crepacci alle 7 e mezzo circa, arriviamo alla Zamboni e, meno di mezz'ora dopo, al Belvedere


Surprise n°1 : there was a man who made the chairlift start so that we could arrive to Macugnaga without further efforts (only iced by the temperature)
Surprise n°2 : at the arrival station we had to pay the ticket for the descend ...
Surprise n°3 : in the nearest coffee bar we found the Chief of the Guides (outwarding a little drunk) telling some madams about the rescue adventure
... I kicked him in the ass then my friends took me away ...
Sorpresa n°1 : c'era un ometto che aveva fatto funzionare la seggiova
Sorpresa n°2 : all'arrivo ci fanno pagare il biglietto !
Sorpresa n°3 : al bar vicino vediamo il Capo delle Guide (apparentemente alticcio) che raccontava ad alcune madame impellicciate l'avventura del soccorso
... gli ho tirato un calcio nel sedere poi i miei amici mi hanno trascinato fuori ...

Completion :

Giorgio Brianzi and his rope team corpses were found only 6 days later by an helicopter of Suisse Gendarmerie about 200 m over the point we were exploring : they had reached the Silbersattel, pound their tent in the snow but a wind blow hurled down all along the East wall, the first crevasse stopped their fall.

Annapurna III - W ridge - 1° ascension - 1977
Giorgio Brianzi, Giuseppina Cheney, Luigino Henry, IPasang Temba Sherpa, Piero Radin


Giorgio Brianzi e i suoi compagni furono ritrovati, cadaveri, solo 6 giorni dopo da un elicottero della Gendarmeria Svizzera nel primo crepaccio, circa 200 metri sopra dove li stavamo cercando noi: avevano raggiunto la Silbersattel, avevano piantato la tenda ma un colpo di vento aveva strappato tutto precipitandoli nella parete Est, il primo crepaccio (che a noi sembrava chiuso, aveva fermato la caduta

Images

Canalone Marinelli

Comments


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Viewing: 1-10 of 10    

BorGood story!

Bor

Voted 10/10

Chief of the Guides got what he deserved.

Cheers!
Posted Sep 25, 2007 3:06 am

gabrieleRe: Good story!

gabriele

Hasn't voted

Few years later another friend of mine (Marcello Calati) died in this area (near the Cima di Iazzi), some say he was already dead when the helicopter let him fall from the slinging, some say he was only wounded, who can know it ...
That's why I never climbed the Monte Rosa and avoided the area till few years ago.
Posted Sep 25, 2007 3:59 am

BorRe: Good story!

Bor

Voted 10/10

I understand that yes. Sad stories.
Posted Sep 25, 2007 4:02 am

DiveriaSorry for your friends.

Diveria

Voted 10/10

The line that divides the shallowness of some people from what could be called a crime is sometimes very thin or less.
Men die alone, surrounded by indifference in the big cities, nothing is different between the mountains.
It doesn't surprise Me anymore.

R.I.P.

Marco.
Posted Nov 28, 2007 6:08 am

rosagrazie

rosa

Voted 10/10

grazie per aver scritto questa storia anche in italiano.
l'importante è ricordarli ...
«Se vi separate dall'amico, non addoloratevi, perché la sua assenza vi illuminerà su ciò che in lui amavate.»
Kahlil Gibran
Posted Jan 16, 2008 5:42 pm

gabrieleRe: grazie

gabriele

Hasn't voted

Normalmente qui scrivo direttamente in inglese (sono pigro, però quando traduco le pagine di amici lascio anche il testo in italiano).
Ho pensato però che questo, e l'articolo To a climber unknown, valesse la pena di averli anche in italiano, e ho avuto la graditissima sorpresa di essere contattato dalla figlia di uno di coloro che ho nominato lì dentro.
Posted Jan 17, 2008 1:44 am

CyrillMonte Rosa East wall

Cyrill

Voted 10/10

Ciao Gabriele

Did you make the Monte Rosa East wall?

tante saluti
C.
Posted May 12, 2008 9:38 am

gabrieleRe: Monte Rosa East wall

gabriele

Hasn't voted

this was the only time I was on the E wall, I think that in 2 more hours we could get the summit, but we had another sad job to do
Posted May 12, 2008 1:54 pm

abrianziGiorgio Brianzi

abrianzi

Hasn't voted

Hello Gabriele, I am Antonella. I was 13 years old. I was waiting for my daddy to come home. He never made it. I just read about how the rescue really went. I read about the drunken guy taliking about the rescue with some women... thank you for kicking his ass....I feel that maybe he could have been saved if people weren't so dumb and superficial, they didn't call the helicopter because the weather was bad. How bad was the weather? Would they have sent a helicopter if it was a member of their own family? We will never know, I will never know. But I am glad that he died in his mountains. He left this world when everything had a sense for him, he died doing what he needed to do...climb, living emotions that only a few people get to live. Thank you for talking about hi. Thank you for remembering a great man.
Posted Jul 4, 2011 11:23 pm

gabrieleRe: Giorgio Brianzi

gabriele

Hasn't voted

sent a PM
ciao
Posted Jul 5, 2011 4:01 am

Viewing: 1-10 of 10