Enzo Cozzolino ( "Grongo" )

Enzo Cozzolino ( "Grongo" )

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" Il Grongo "

Torre TriesteTorre Trieste

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.
Cima del Lago and Cima...Cima Scotoni

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.
Monte Agner (2872m), Torre...Monte Agnèr

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.
[img:223285:alignleft:small:Diedro Cozzolino]

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.


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Viewing: 1-13 of 13
Vid Pogachnik

Vid Pogachnik - Sep 2, 2007 11:04 am - Voted 10/10

Brilliantly written!

I'm glad you have presented us this great climber. We heard so much about him, now here's the amazing story of his climbing.


ganesh70 - Sep 2, 2007 11:11 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Brilliantly written!

Thank you! Cozzolino was really a fantastic climber, but there aren't books or famous articles that talk about him, so it's not easy to find information about his life. I hope this article will help people that want to know something about him.
( thank you also for correcting the typo )


Bor - Sep 3, 2007 2:43 am - Voted 10/10


...for writting about this climber. I did not know that he died so young. Intereseting reading! I also attached the photo of Piccolo Mangart di Coritenza.



ganesh70 - Sep 3, 2007 3:20 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Thanks...

Thank you! For me Cozzolino was the best rock climber of his era, I've seen in the Dolomites some of his routes and I can't believe he climbed it in free-solo!


chris.mueller - Sep 3, 2007 11:39 am - Voted 10/10

I wonder..

how comes that he did not become better-known to us nowadays. Thanks a lot for bringing him back to memory.




ganesh70 - Sep 3, 2007 12:19 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: I wonder..

Good question. It seems that only the people of his town remember him. But what is important is the great respect that all the climbers of those years had for him, not only Messner.

Andrej Mašera

Andrej Mašera - Sep 3, 2007 5:42 pm - Voted 10/10

Excellent article

Depicting the short but very rich alpinistic life of Enzo Cozzolino, who was promising to become the Greatest of All, you successed to disclose his extremely high climbing capacities, his purest ethics and decency of his very being as a great man. I admire your endeavour to obtain these abundant data about him. He undoubtedly deserves a biography, so let you consider a bit abot this idea...
Complimenti, Fabrizio, il tuo articolo e davvero affascinante.
Ciao, Andrej


ganesh70 - Sep 4, 2007 2:16 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent article

Thank you, I'd really like to know more about this great alpinist of my regione but it seems that everybody has forgotten him. He really deserves a biography ( I think the alpinist and writer from Trieste Spiro dalla Porta Xidias could have written it, because he knew him well ) but I'm not a writer, I hope somebody in the future will write it.


Worldalpiner - Sep 10, 2007 3:48 am - Hasn't voted

Great story

Thanks for having described so wonderfully Enzo's story, I live in the place he probably wrote his climbing best pages. I have been to the "Bivacco" dedicated to him at the bottom of Agner north face so many times, climbing on those mountines and never realy knew who he was and that his departure was so premature. Yesterday i was on the Spiz d'Agner Sud , tomorrow I will look at that mountine in a differnt way.


ganesh70 - Sep 10, 2007 4:05 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Great story

Thank you for this beautiful words Stefano! It's very strange that not even italians know much about this great climber.


ganesh70 - Sep 10, 2007 12:18 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Grongo?

Thank you Rh! I'm not sure but I think grongo is a strange kind of fish of the eels family.

Bill Reed

Bill Reed - Sep 26, 2007 9:25 pm - Voted 10/10

Never heard of.....

Enzo Cozzolino, don't know of the mountains you mentioned, but I do know something about the passion you speak of.
Very well written account of a young life cut short. I'm a better man for having read about "Grongo".


ganesh70 - Sep 27, 2007 4:13 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Never heard of.....

Thank you for your nice words!

Viewing: 1-13 of 13