|Activities:||Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Big Wall|
Gino Soldà was born on 1907, March 8th in Valdagno (Vicenza, Italy), a little town close to Recoaro Terme, at the foot of the prealpine group of Piccole Dolomiti (Little Dolomites), where he moved very young. This is an important detail because all his life was always in full accord with this mountain origin, notwithstanding in the golden years his passion for climbing and exploring kept him often far from his loved valley. Gino started to climb in 1923 and he is considered one of the best protagonists of the historic “Sixth Grade’s Golden Age”.
Gino's first considerable climb occurred in 1924, when he realized alone at the age of seventeen the first winter ascent of Baffelan East face (Piccole Dolomiti).
His natural talent for climbing and his passion led him to make the mountain his reason for living. Still very young he become an Alpine Guide (1928) and took on the management of the shelter on Campogrosso Pass, in Little Dolomites, with his brother Aldo. Soon Gino reached the highest level in climbing, for those times the VI grade UIAA; he climbed numberless extreme routes in the Dolomites, also realizing several new ones and becoming an outstanding exponent of the European mountaineering during the decennium 1929 – 1939. His most important and world famous undertaking were Marmolada di Penia South-West face 1st ascent in 1936 with his pal Umberto Conforto and Sassolungo North face 1st ascent, climbed in the same year together with Franco Bertoldi: another challenging new route on the majestic 1100 m. high North face of Sassolungo. This route, defined by a British party which climbed it in 1975 as “no place for brass monkeys”, is a highly engaged climb inside a very severe environment and very rarely repeated.
Gino was also a great champion of ski: alpine ski, Nordic ski and ski-jump; in 1932 he participated to the Lake Placid Olympic Games, raising Italian team’s performance, not very good in that occasion because of some problems with ski wax. Once coming back in Italy he considered and studied the problem and in 1934 he established a factory for the production of ski-wax, which is still a renowned one under the management of his son Manlio.
Gino Soldà was an artist of climbing, designing new elegant lines on unexplorated stunning faces. Surely his charm has a lot to do with his extraordinary enterprises in the Dolomites and his vocation to pioneer new peaks and climbing new routes, but also with his humanity, his loftiness of feelings and with the exceptional authoritativeness which people always attributed to him. Gino loved the mountain over every thing, but he had also a great consideration for the safety of climbers and mountaineers. For this reason since 1938 he dedicated himself to the Alpine Rescue and in 1965 he became the leader of “Recoaro-Valdagno” Alpine Rescue Station, founded by himself.
During the World War II he profuse its commitment in bringing people persecuted to safety in Switzerland and moreover he had an active role as a fighter in the War of Liberation. In the immediate post-war period Gino resumed his activities of Mountain Guide on Passo Sella, Dolomites. Recently his fellow-citizens has dedicated to Gino the mountaineering School founded between the sections of Club Alpino Italiano in Valdagno, Recoaro and Arzignano, which now is named “MOUNTAIN SCHOOL GINO SOLDA”’. Notwithstanding Gino was a great champion, he was free from every contest’s disposition and he also liked to climb together the other outstanding mountaineers of his age, like Giusto Gervasutti, Raffaele Carlesso and later Gaston Rebuffat. Until the vigour was with him he never stopped climbing and realized his last climb in 1978, at the age of seventhy-one, with his son Manlio and his grandchild Giorgia just on the Baffelan, the peak where he had started his striking career.
Gino Soldà was selected in 1954 to participate to the K2 Italian Expedition and at the age of 47 he was its oldest member. He was selected not only because of his climbing qualities, but also for his authoritativeness, his good knowledge of English and his high talent to manage all the situations and mainly the relationship with Baltì porters, a very important side in that kind of expeditions. Gino climbed till Piramide Nera at 7100 m.
For a long time Gino climbed with Hans Kraus, a personal physician of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who went in Italy for several years to climb with Gino, realizing together different first ascents; in 1963 Gino and Hans climbed another new route on the beautiful Torre dell’Emmele ESE face and Gino willed the route was dedicated to the President John F. Kennedy.
1923 – Gino makes his first ascent on Guglia del Frate (Little Dolomites)
1924 – He climbs alone and in winter ascent the Baffelan East face
Since 1926 to 1933 he climbs several VI grade new routes on various peaks in the Little Dolomites, like Dito di Dio, Sisilla South face Direct, the first route of VI grade UIAA in Little Dolomites, Punta Sibele Direct Route with Raffaele Carlesso, Lontelovere, Baffelan East Face new route ecc.
1934 – Lonely ascent to Sengio della Sisilla; Ortles SW face 1st ascent with G. Pirovano; Dente del Sassolungo 1st ascent SE face with Franco Bertoldi
1935 – Several VI grade new routes in the Little Dolomites, as Dito di Dio NE face, with his brother Italo Soldà
1936 – Marmolada di Penia SW face 1st ascent with Umberto Conforto after three days of struggle; Sassolungo North face 1st ascent with Franco Bertoldi; Campanile di Wessely West Corner 1st ascent; I Tower of Sassopiatto 1st ascent; Cima Ovest di Lavaredo Cassin-Ratti route 1st italian repetition with Raffaele Carlesso
1937 – Torre Venezia Andrich-Faè and Tissi routes 1st repetitions; Torre Trieste Tissi Route 1st repetition; Torre di Babele South Ridge 1st ascent (Dolomites, Civetta Group)and Baffelan NE ridge 1st ascent with Italo Soldà
1938 – Gino participates to the rescue of his fellow-citizens Bortolo Sandri and Mario Menti fallen on Eigerwand.
1942 – Cima Grande di Lavaredo Comici - Dimai Route with Giusto Gervasutti; several first ascents in the Dolomites
1947 - Piz Ciavazes (Sella Group) new route with Guido Pagani
1949 – Torre Trieste Cassin Route 1st repetition with U. Pompanin; Cima Grande di Lavaredo Comici-Dimai with Gaston Rebuffat
1951 – Torre Gialla 1st ascent (Pale di S. Martino)
1952 – Several first ascents in the Dolomites (Moiazza and Cadini) with Hans Kraus
1953 – Sass Pordoi NW face 1st ascent; Sassolungo East face 1st ascent
1954 – K2 Italian Expedition
1956-1959 Some first ascents in Catinaccio and Little Dolomites
1959 - Moiazza Pala delle Masenade new route with Hans Kraus
1960 – Cima Ovest di Lavaredo Scoiattoli Route - During this extreme ascent the famous Bavarian director and climber Lothar Brandler took the film “Una cordata europea - Direttissima”, winner of “Mario Bello” prize at Trento Film Festival in the same year
1963 - “John Fitzgerald Kennedy” Route 1st ascent on E-S-E face of Torre dell’Emmele, Gino’s last VI grade climb with Hans Kraus
1974 – Baffelan NW ridge first ascent
1978 – Gino climbs until an old age and makes his last climb at the age of 71 on his loved Baffelan with his son Manlio and his grandchild Giorgia
1985 – Gino stops his activity of leader in “Recoaro-Valdagno” Alpine Rescue Station
1989 - Gino dies at the age of 82 in Recoaro. Amongst the many initiatives undertaken to honor his memory, a permanent exhibition at the Rifugio Campogrosso and the School of Mountain "Gino Soldà" (CAI Sez. Valdagno, Recoaro Terme e Arzignano).
"Dalle Piccole Dolomiti al K2" by Tommaso Magalotti
"Gino Soldà e il suo tempo" by Luca Valente
"Sulle vie di Gino - Nel centenario della nascita, seguendo le sue tracce... 1907-2007" by Luigi Centomo and Redento Peserico.
The book was published by the Italian Alpine Club Sections of Recoaro Terme and Valdagno in the hundredth anniversary of Gino's birth.