Short BiographyGiusto Gervasutti “il fortissimo” (1909-1946)
Born in Cervignano in Friuli (Italy) on 17th April 1909 , in 1931 he moved to Turin to study at the local University. As an expert of climbing on limestone rocks he rapidly got used to granite and the high Western Alps. He continued, though, an intensive activity on the Dolomites: Solleder to Sass Maor with G. Boccalatte and Solleder to Civetta with L.Devies. He was thus able to integrate his Dolomites - rock - climber skills with his western- ice -climber - knowledge and succeeded in ascents so far unthinklable of.
He thus became an outstanding member of the European mountaineeering between the 30s and 40s and together with the most well known climbers of the time he climbed the most difficult and sought-after faces in the Western Alps: in 1934 the NW face of the Pic d’Olan in the Delfinato with L.Devies; in 1935 the South crest of Pic Gaspard and in 1936 the NW face of the Western Ailefroide.
He was particularly active on the Monte Bianco where , apart from repeating the ascent to the South Crets of Aiguille Noir de Peuterey he took part in the rush to the Jorasses first with Piero Zanetti and then with Renato Chabod.
In 1935 on chasing after the German party of M.Meier and R.Peters he ascended the Sperone Croz for the second time. On the Bianco again, he climbed the SW Spigolo of the Pic Gugliermina (1938) with Gabriele Boccalatte and the still untouched southern face of the Monte Bianco, through the North Pilier route of Freney, with Paolo Bollini della Predosa in 1940.
The ascent which joined him to the history of mountaineering was the ascent of the difficult and wild Eastern face of the Grandes Jorasses with Giuseppe Gagliardone in 1942, which took place when he was an Officer of the Alpine troops and under eventful circumstances in the middle of World War 2.
Giusto Gervasutti died on 16 September 1946 at Mont Blanc du Tacul while trying to ascend the spur which has been named after him: he fell headlong while trying to go up tofree a stuck double rope.
In 1945 he had published his autobiography in “Ascent in the Alps” ( Scalate nelle Alpi) a classic in mountaineering lietrature ( CDA Vivalda publishers).
Everything around me, motionless and still, was unaware . And so I instinctively asked again “Why ?”. There was no answer and maybe never there will be one.”
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Extract from his book
The Dolomites do not attract us anymore for this year. Yet, on driving down the Forcella di Staulanza , we feel the sweet call of the fields, under the black fir trees, coloured by the blooming lavender and Cortina d’Ampezzo where we stop to get our luggage, is full of chatty,noisy and happy people, at least so it seems. We spend a night there and leave.We have lunch at Bolzano and at about 2 a.m. we reach Turin. We replace our equipment and leave again towards Switzerland.
We pass by the Lake Maggiore: Arona, Stresa, Baveno. On driving through the lively villages, along the blossoming gardens we hear the call again.Groups of girls in their light multicoloured dresses, of whom we get only a first flying impression from the car, white sails ploughing the lake, lightly chapped, all this raise our wish for wonderful places. Why don’t we stop? Why are we anxiuosly running from one place to the other as if looking for a lost well being? This corner of paradise is like a welcoming harbour to our storm tossed boat. There are certainly safety, comfort and much more in the harbour- many more things so dear to every single human being, but the boat is heading for the open sea , towards the strong wind storms.......
Past Domodossola, while entering the harsh and steep valley we start expressing the feelings prompted by the the contrast between the two worlds.The valley is gradually invaded by the shades and the last gloomy lights disappear one by one from the peaks.
We cross the border silent and reach Gondo where we are going to spend the night, when it is already night. The chilly air coming from the close glaciers cheers us up a little bit. Tomorrow , or soon anyway, an ice axe swung in the air will sweep obsessive thoughts away.