/ NEW ARTICLE: Claudio Corti (1928-2010) : A Life in the Shadow of the Eiger

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
UKC Articles - on 11 Feb 2010
[Claudio Corti shortly after being rescued from the Eiger in 1957, 3 kb]Last week, Italian mountaineer Claudio Corti passed away at the age of 81.

Corti became famous in the late 50's mainly for his involvement in the notorious epic on the Eiger featured in Henrich Harrer's book 'The White Spider'.

In the following article, frequent UKC contributor Luca Signorelli, gives his personal account of the life of Claudio Corti, a life that became entirely dominated by the epic on the Eiger.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2483

Andy Moles - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent obituary, thank you.
chrisprescott - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Thanks, a very interesting obituary. Nice to see it from another view point
TonyM - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
Superb article. In fact, most interesting one I've ever read on UKC!

Maybe worth clearing up a few of the syntax issues. Only one that detracts is that it doesn't explain that the Patagonia exped was to Cerro Torre ... not just any rock spire.
In reply to TonyM:

Thanks, now edited.

Alan
Heike - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to TonyM:
I agree, that's a great article, very interesting.
Thanks
Chris the Tall - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:
Great article, I'd been hoping Luca would write something along these lines

Quite intrigued by the photo taken from the newspaper, showing where Corti and Longhi where

Looks like they had avoided the Traverse of the Gods altogether, and picked a line that came in at the top of the spider, rather than below it - had they gone off route accidently or deliberately ? And it seems that they were only about 100ft apart - I'd always thought it was far more
Erstwhile on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Grazie Luca, molto bello.
Jim Walton on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Great article
grindelwald on 11 Feb 2010 - mailgate.skcltd.com
In reply to UKC Articles:
Nice article,
Interesting spelling of Grindelwald throughout though :)

Grindenwald

Grindewald
In reply to grindelwald:

Thank you. Now corrected.

Alan
GBriffett on 11 Feb 2010 - proxy1-int.be.jnj.com
In reply to UKC Articles:
A really great, informative & well balanced article Luca. Thanks very much.
Doug on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to GBriffett: Many thanks Luca, the first of a series of articles on the history of alpinism maybe ?
Gordon Stainforth - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article, Luca. So much more than an obituary. Very informative and balanced.
flatiron - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

A brilliant and well researched piece, congrats, Luca!

Rainer
klk - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Very good piece-- a nice balance of biography and commentary.

(Mick, the line editing still needs a bit of work-- it's worth getting this piece into completely clean copy, because it ought to circulate more widely.)
Thanks for all the positive feedback. If people spot any ore corrections then please email them via the contact form - http://www.ukclimbing.com/general/email.html

Alan
Simon4 - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: UKC Articles: Can only add to the congratulations Luca. A balanced, measured and thoughtful acount of a great injustice, never really rectified - especially eloquent considering you are writing in a foreign language.

Hopefully this will set the record straight, at least for users of this site.

Rest in peace Claudio.
Ackbar - on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Depressing to read this article. White spider is one of my favourite books and Harrer one of my favourite characters in history. This seemingly petty racism seems to be at total odds to the Harrer from "seven years in Tibet".
Luca Signorelli - on 11 Feb 2010
Hi everyone, thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate the opportunity that UKC gave me to discuss Corti's history.

@Chris_the_Tall:
Corti said that the choice of the Washack-Forstenlechner variant (the ledge high above the Traverse of the Gods, was pioneered in 1950) had been deliberate, as in snowy conditions, at very least it looked like the original route (and the White Spider) couldn’t have been climbed by the ailing Longhi and the sick Nothdurft. Of course, his detractors thought he was full of you-know-what, and he had simply taken the wrong line. Which partly demonstrates the bizarre logic behind the accuses against Corti; another point of Harrer against him was that Nothdurft and Mayer were too strong as climbers to have been “led” by Corti… but if Corti wasn’t leading the group, how could have taken them off route?

I’ve no personal opinion on that – as I wrote in the article, climbing strategy was never Corti’s forte, so he may have indeed simply taken the wrong line. I’ve talked with at least a couple of Eiger climbers who says that Corti’s version makes at least some sense, as in their view the transition from the Ramp to the Traverse of the Gods is the scariest looking passage of the route. Again, no personal idea on that – is any Eiger veteran here willing to give his opinion?

Longhi’s position was close enough to Corti for the two to exchange shouts, and for Corti to hear Longhi agony cries (“Fame…. Freddo…” – “Hunger…. Cold…”) long enough to have nightmares for years afterwards. If the weather had held a bit more, Hellepart (who, in my humble opinion, had Teflon-coated guts!) was very much willing to plunge again in the abyss and try saving Longhi. And just to put Hellepart’s bravery in the right context, he went down for 250m on the North Face of Eiger, a place notorious of rockfall, hanging form a steel cable few mm thick that any significant rockfall could have snapped in a second. I feel dizzy just thinking about it.

@Rainer
It’s well researched because, in all honesty, the good material has become relatively easier to access, thanks to the effort of people like you, Daniel Anker or Giorgio Spreafico (or Carlo Caccia). There’s new generation of historians of mountaineering around, and I look forward to see more and more important past climbing and mountaineering events (and controversies) being given a proper historical treatment
ads.ukclimbing.com
Kyuzo on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

Really excellent article Luca, fascinating and sad.
Jamie Simpson on 11 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

One of the best articles I have read on UKC. As previously stated, both fascinating and tragic.
pitonpat on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thanks Luca, that was an outstanding article. As a new climber in 1966, the White Spider was one of my first mountain books. It left me with a lifelong fascination with the north face of the Eiger & it's history. It is a tragedy that Corti suffered most of his life the unfair treatment by Harrer, Cassin, and others.

In 1970, during my first trip to the Swiss Alps, I had the opportunity to see the N. face of the Eiger, and look through the tunnel window onto the snowy, cloud-shrouded North wall, and shiver a bit inside knowing it's storied history. Thanks for helping to set a part of that history straight.
Simon4 - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to Ackbar:
> This seemingly petty racism seems to be at total odds to the Harrer from "seven years in Tibet".

You probably are not familiar with Harrer's background. There is also plenty of doubt about the authenticity of 7 Years in Tibet.
IainAM on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

My lack of knowledge of Corti also centred around the white spider, thanks very much for a great article.
Ackbar - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to Simon4: I am aware of the SS background but I've always admired the way he (seemed to) change things round. What is the doubt over 7 years in Tibet. I've seen relatively recent photos of Harrer and the Dalai Lama. Seems odd to think that the Dalai Lama could be such as bad judge of character!?!
Ed Douglas - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to Ackbar: I'm not sure the Dalai Lama is such a bad judge of character. Harrer milked his connection to His Holiness for all it was worth, but then there are all kinds of people - Hollywood stars etc - who do that, and he doesn't seem to mind. At least they take an interest in the cause of his people. As to whether Harrer changed in Tibet, that's an interesting question. He didn't lose his habit of self-aggrandisement. Harrer would routinely describe himself as a tutor to the Dalai Lama, but for Tibetans the word 'tutor' is very specific and a lot more important than the kind of role the Austrian performed. Harrer had a few chats with the DL about the world beyond Tibet but that's as far as it went. Peter Aufschnaiter, Harrer's companion in Lhasa, did rather more, doing engineering works etc. What Harrer did do was write an engaging best-seller that caught the imagination of millions in the West. In the long run, that was useful in building political pressure over the occupation of Tibet. But Seven Years in Tibet is at best an entertaining snapshot, and not reliable, historically speaking.
Simon4 - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to Ed Douglas:
> What Harrer did do was write an engaging best-seller that caught the imagination of millions in the West.

Harrer certainly could write, and tell a gripping tale. Unfortunately he frequently followed the old rule for bar-room anecdotes, "never let the truth get in the way of a good story". Which is fine when you are taking the piss out of your mates, but much less appropriate when performing a character assasignation following a tragedy.

The fact that Harrer could write well made the impact of The White Spider much worse than if it was a turgid tome read only by geeks.

Ackbar - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to Ed Douglas: Interesting. Thanks for the reply.
francoisecall - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to Ed Douglas: Having briefly met Harrer I was struck by how full of himself he appeared.

Well done Luca! Great article.
Luca Signorelli - on 12 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

If you want to get a more direct idea how Corti was like, here's the last interview he ever gave. Of course, his speech is incomprehensible (most of it even for me!) but you should look into his eyes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7zM40G3PTM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFheqzc1-ck
Henry L Buckle - on 13 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

Fantastic article.

Henry
pneame on 15 Feb 2010
In reply to Luca Signorelli:
> (In reply to UKC Articles)
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7zM40G3PTM
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFheqzc1-ck

Even if you don't understand Italian much, it's an extraordinary collection of pictures. Really complements your article. Thanks Luca.
Dark Peak Paul - on 17 Feb 2010
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

I'd love to know what he was saying. Has anyone done a transcript?
eroica64 - on 17 Feb 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: Brilliant climbing journalism.
Chris.
Luca Signorelli - on 17 Feb 2010
In reply to Dark Peak Paul:
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli)
>
> I'd love to know what he was saying. Has anyone done a transcript?

It's not so easy, as half of the talking is done in Lecco's dialect - which I don't know! I'll ask Carlo Caccia (of IntoTheRocks) to give me a hand on that - he's from Lecco.
Dark Peak Paul - on 18 Feb 2010
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

I'm sure many of us will look forward to reading the result. I enjoyed your article greatly.

Kind regards, Paul

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.