of Uganda together with the government of Italy
organised the commemorating climb in the Rwenzori range named “In
the Footstep of the Duke”. Furthermore, they've published the booklet titled “In the footstep of the Duke - The essential
guide to history, climbing and trekking of the Rwenzori Mountains”, containing
the Map of the Rwenzori National Park. Hovewer, not the one of
the most influential figures in jazz, if not in all American music, was the man to be tributed.
Tribute went in honour of
the the slim Italian noble, who once wrote "With will,
courage, and perseverance, man can dare anything" and has
been almost entirely forgotten afterwards.
Mount Saint Elias
Climbers on Mt. Stanley, Rwenzori
Duke of Abruzzi during the 1906. Rwenzori expedition
Italian K2 1909. expedition
Polar expedition 1899.
[img:379420:alignright:small:Polar expedition 1899.]Luigi
Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi born Luigi Amedeo
Giuseppe Maria Ferdinando Francesco in Madrid, on January 29, 1873. was
Italian explorer, mountain climber and naval officer.
was born in Madrid to the then king of Spain who abdicated his throne
just few weeks after his son's birth and returned to Italy. When six years old, little Luigi was assigned to the Italian Navy and received his
entire education in military schools. Before he was 40 he had
become one of the greatest mountaineers and explorers of his
Before his main adventures, Duke of Abruzzi
bagged number of major Alpine summits to his credit. including
Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, and the Matterhorn, which he had climbed via
the Breuil route, as well as via the Zmutt ridge, together
with his friend, English mountaineer (and economist) Albert Frederick
At the age of 24 he organised and led the
expedition that made the first ascent of Mount St Elias
(5,484 metres) in Alaska in 1897. It was, and is, the
second-highest peak in U.S. territory. The climb had not been
technically difficult, the Italians had nevertheless gone from sea
level to 18,000 feet and back again, on an exhausting trip
of 125 miles. They had not lost a man; in fact there had been no
serious accidents. It was a triumph of physical endurance,
good planning, and leadership, and the credit was due above all to
Luigi Amedeo, then aged 24. At the time it was flatly
regarded as the most successful expedition ever undertaken. It
would be another half-century before the next group of climbers, from
the Harvard Mountaineering Club, reached the top of Mount
Two years later in 1899. he led an
expedition to the North Pole which reached a latitude 86° 34’ north, a
new record at the time surpassing Nansen's by some 40 km. Leading
the first trip northward from his ship, the duke froze his hands, had
to haveseveral fingers amputated, and gave over command of the
Pole party to his friend Umberto Cagni. During first part of
this expedition, he arrived in the Norwegian capital Christiania
(nowadays called Oslo) together with 10 companions. The duke
acquired the Jason, a whaler of 570 tons with steam engine. Under
its new name Stella Polare (“Pole Star”) the ship led the expedition
through the frozen sea and on on June 30 the Pole Star dropped
anchor in the docks of Arkhangel’sk.
the Alps, Alaska, and the Arctic, now he aimed at Africa. Six
years later in 1906 he led the Rwenzori expedition, to the snow-capped Rwenzori Range - The
Mountains of the Moon and the sources of the Nile, which lies
astride the equator on the border between Uganda and Zaire. These
mountains are a mountaineer's paradise, a home of afro - alpine flora
and fauna and a resource base for indigenous communities inhabiting the
lower slopes and surrounding lowlands. Abruzzi climbed all the
major peaks and made the most extensive exploration of the range before
or since. When the duke returned from the Ruwenzori he was
33, world famous, and had been promoted to admiral.
three years later in 1909, he organised an expedition to the Karakoram and
set the record to the highest altitude yet achieved by ascending the
second highest mountain in the world, K2, to a height of
about 7,500 metres [24,600 feet], along the route that today bears his
name, the Abruzzi ridge. On the same journey he increased
this record when he ascended Chogolisa (Bride Peak) to an even higher
altitude, 7.654 metres (about 25.110 feet), but did not
reach the summit. The duke's altitude record was to stand
for 13 years until, in 1922, G.H.L. Mallory reached 27,000 feet during
his first attempt on Mt. Everest. The duke and his guides
had moreover spent nine days above 21,000 feet, which no one had ever
done before them.
During his great period of
adventure and exploration, Duke of the Abruzzi remained a professional
naval officer. He was the Admiral of Italian Adriatic fleet during the WWI.
After the Glory Days
the War, Duke of Abruzzi spent most of his time in Somalia -
then Italian colony, There he had founded the Villaggio Duca
degli Abruzzi, an agricultural settlement experimenting new
cultivation techniques near Mogadishu (Somalia). In 1926 the
colony comprised 16 villages, with 3,000 Somali and 200 Italian
inhabitants. There have been questionmarks over this period,
as Somalis seem to have worked in the colony as slaves.
never married. He spent his last days in Mogadishu with his Somalian
girlfriend Fatima Ali. He died of the prostate cancer in
Ghiohàr/Somalia, on March 18, 1933.
After the Second
World War, Italy became a Republic and that was main reason why the
Duke of Abruzzi was forgotten by his own fellow country men.
He was Prince of the Crown and a cousin of the King Vittorio
Emanuele III of Savoy, guy that had allowed Fascism to rule Italy and
allied with the Nazi regime of Germany. Although Duke of
Abruzzi never approved of Mussolini and kept away from politics, the
citizens of the new Republic preferred to forget about all the Savoys. And
so, because of it, for fifty years, one of the greatest
modern mountaineers, and perhaps the greatest overall explorer of his
time was scarcely mentioned in encyclopaedias and books on
exploration and mountaineering.
However, among the Mountaineers his value has always been remembered.
And these days many schools, streets, mountain huts
are dedicated to his memory, and the National Museum of the Mountain in Torino is named after him
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