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Topic - RIP Lorenzo "Enzolino" Castaldi

Luca Signorelli - on 26 Mar 2012
One of the most passionate and articulate contributors to the Compressor Route bolts chopping threads, Italian climber "Enzolino" (real name Lorenzo Castaldi), 40 years old, died on the early morning of March 25th in the first few pitches of the north face of Ortles (the highest summit of Alto Adige, in Northern Italy). He was avalanched together with three other climbers; he and a 35 years old Spanish man died, while the other two survived. Conditions on the wall were good, but the NF of Ortles has taken over the last few years a nasty reputation for sudden avalanches and serac collapse, with many fatalities.

Enzolino was well aware of the dangers of climbing Ortles, but he still did climb it. In relation to the NF of Ortles he recently wrote, in an Italian climbing forum:

"For me that route has a meaning, transcending things like difficulty or beauty..."

Lorenzo Castaldi had been born in Sassari, Sardinia, but in order to follow his career has a chemist, he had moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where he had married his Mexican girlfriend. He's survived by his wife and a two years old son, Manuel. Despite not being well known outside Italy, he was an excellent all rounder with a prestigious resume as a rock climber and mountaineer, spawing thousands of routes across the globe, and including Patagonia and Yosemite.

Ironically, and at the same time sad, Lorenzo may pass history as the guy who did a passionate, cultured and deeply felt stance against the destruction of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre (the epitome of anti-trad, in some people views); while in reality he was a competent and incredibly brave trad climber who opened few of the best and most committing trad routes of the Mediterranean basin (in Sardinia and Greece). In total, between sport and trad route, Enzolino's resume may total well above 300 new lines, often of very high difficulty.

But he would never brag about it. He was keen discussing climbing history, and spending hours arguing the merits of routes or future and often exotic climbing plans, but his own climbs would always take the backseat to someone else's feat. Because of this, people who didn't knew better would take him for a Internet armchair climber - which he definitely wasn't.

He was well known - actually, he had a legendary status - in the Italian climbing community because of his debating talent, his often abrasive (but never rude) personality, and his energy and stamina on conducting exhausting battles of wits on the Italian forums first, and later, when the Compressor Route controversy exploded, on Supertopo and UKC. To some extent, it was impossible to argue with him - his knowledge of climbing history, his dialectic ability, and the sheer willingness to keep on arguing and debate every point of a controversy were second to none.

The Compressor Route wasn't just "another issue" for him, and the intensity of his effort to convince fellow climbers that vandalizing the 40 years old Maestri route had been a mistake may seems at odd with his traits as adventurous trad climber, someone definitely not in love of bolted lines. But the contradiction is just apparent. "Enzolino" knew the the climbing world all too well, and I thing he disliked the idea of climbing as a single minded affirmation of one own prejudice. While he admired Hayden and Jason bravery, skill and single-mindedness (exactly as he had admired Maestri's figure as one of the bravest Dolomites climber ever), his stern (and very "sardinian") ethics had little patience for anything less than strict respect for local climbing history and local climbing customs (to the point he would argue for ages about moving one single ore-established point of protection on a route he didn't open, even against the evidence that point was badly placed).

RIP Enzolino, you will be greatly missed. I hope someone who knew you better that I did, and who climbed with you will come here and share some story about you.
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