/ NEW ARTICLE: Claudio Corti (1928-2010) : A Life in the Shadow of the Eiger
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
Excellent obituary, thank you.
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.
Thanks, now edited.
I agree, that's a great article, very interesting.
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
Grazie Luca, molto bello.
Interesting spelling of Grindelwald throughout though :)
Thank you. Now corrected.
A really great, informative & well balanced article Luca. Thanks very much.
Great article, Luca. So much more than an obituary. Very informative and balanced.
A brilliant and well researched piece, congrats, Luca!
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.)
Hopefully this will set the record straight, at least for users of this site.
Rest in peace Claudio.
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.
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
Really excellent article Luca, fascinating and sad.
One of the best articles I have read on UKC. As previously stated, both fascinating and tragic.
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.
You probably are not familiar with Harrer's background. There is also plenty of doubt about the authenticity of 7 Years in Tibet.
My lack of knowledge of Corti also centred around the white spider, thanks very much for a great article.
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.
Well done Luca! Great article.
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.
Even if you don't understand Italian much, it's an extraordinary collection of pictures. Really complements your article. Thanks Luca.
I'd love to know what he was saying. Has anyone done a transcript?
> 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.
I'm sure many of us will look forward to reading the result. I enjoyed your article greatly.
Kind regards, Paul
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