That is sad , He seemed ( from the little that I had read ) such a sincere , strong , genuine man with lots of profound and inspiring things to say . I read a great interview ( i think in the telegraph ) a couple of years ago which gave a wonderful insight to the great mans life .
For some reason I feel the urge to remark (as very few people know this) that the last time he climbed Mont Blanc, by far Walter's favourite mountain, he did it with a group of friends and in his mid-70's, with absolutely no media fuss and via the Innominata ridge on the Freney side, a route that's often proven to be too much for people half his age.
On The Heights & The Great Days by Walter Bonatti are two of the most inspirational books I have ever read, would highly recommend. Bonatti was a true inspiration, an amazing and groundbreaking climber.
The list of Honorary Members of The Alpine Club has shrunk rapidly this past month almost in alphabetical order from the top:
Now there's only one "B" left on the list. Take care Joe!
Allan McDonald (Gwydyr MC)14 Sep 2011
In reply to Frank Cannings: Gutted, the man was an absolute legend and opened the eyes of many who followed in his footsteps. Despite everything he seemed to outwardly show little bitterness to those who tried to put him down (the K2 debacle et al) and just carried on doing his own thing out of the public glare. His love and respect for the mountains gave him incredible memories and experiences no doubt and I am sure he will be welcomed by Mummery at the pearly gates - now that will be some conversation RIP Mr Bonatti a more dignified mountaineer one could have ever hoped to read about !
Was given "Mountains of my life" for my birthday a few months ago. Read it twice, and then immediately put it in a box bound for Afghanistan for my friend to read while he's on tour. Unparalleled inspiration.
"...the South West Pillar; this was climbed in 1955 by Walter Bonatti, an
Italian and one of the greatest climbers of this century. It was even
more difficult than the face and yet he went on it by himslef. It would
have been a considerable feat for a strong party but as a "solo" effort,
it was incredible."
"In the light of these subsequent ascents, Bonatti's achievment seemed all
the more unbelievable."
I can't remember how many times I have read On The Heights in the last 40 years, always being amazed by the man's vision,skill, courage and integrity. Hero is not a word I use lightly, but he most certainly is mine. We sall not see his like again.
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli)
> The list of Honorary Members of The Alpine Club has shrunk rapidly this past month almost in alphabetical order from the top:
> Band, George
> Blackshaw, Alan
> Bonatti, Walter
> Now there's only one "B" left on the list. Take care Joe!
In reply to Luca Signorelli: Am I the only one who wonders why Walter Bonatti gets no more than a cursory entry in UKC news? We are not talking about the death of an 81year old bloke who did a bit of climbing here, but one who was universally acknowledged - and by many contributors to this forum - as one of the true true greats of mountaineering. I can't understand why the UKC news piece is a merely cut'n'past job and link off to the BMC obit. Even our national papers print lengthy Obituaries to Bonatti.
So come UKC lets have a decent tribute to the man - and a bit of history too as many of the younger readers may not appreciate the magnitude his achievements. Nor understand what it was to climb on hemp rope tied directly to the waist and abseil the classic way!
> (In reply to Luca Signorelli) One of my heroes - I'd assumed not even Death could beat him and he'd live forever! Nice interview with him here (when he was 80)
> Also, very funny the French guides burning 'his' house down!
I know French guides have come in for some "stick" recently on UKC, but presumably it was Italian (Courmayeur) guides the article referred to.
I'm reading The Great Days again, and Bonatti mentions he was upset that his climbing partner (Zappelli) joined them, and now I understand why !
> (In reply to Marc C)
> I know French guides have come in for some "stick" recently on UKC, but presumably it was Italian (Courmayeur) guides the article referred to.
> I'm reading The Great Days again, and Bonatti mentions he was upset that his climbing partner (Zappelli) joined them, and now I understand why !
I think you are right, but the Chamonix Guides could hold a grudge as well, think of the way they treated Demaison after the Dru rescue with Hemmings and Burke.
In reply to Dr_C:
Definitely the end of an era - it's absolutely mind-boggling that he climbed the eponymous pillar on the Dru solo, although given that this was preceded by K2, it likely was a "getting his head together" exercise.
It's a lovely picture of him in the guardian interview.
I can't understand at all why he was treated so shabbily by his associates, but, as they say "time heals all wounds".
The last paragraphs of that article are quite amusing, for the first, and true for the second:
"Bonatti's sudden retirement was not greeted with universal sadness. While the French government awarded him the Legion d'Honneur, some Mont Blanc guides chose to puncture the tyres of his Volkswagen and burn down his house. "They never really accepted me, as an outsider," he says. "Luckily for me, they also didn't realise I had already sold the house . . ."
His second career saw him travel the world as photojournalist, and his books are read in every Italian school. Yet it is as a climber that his legend was made. So are their regrets? "Not really," he says. "I would have liked to have climbed the Eiger. I once got about a third of the way up in a couple of hours when the rockfalls began, so I came back down. You see, the real essence of mountain climbing – of really knowing and loving the mountains – is not getting to the top. It's having the humility and self-awareness when necessary to be able to stop 100 metres from the summit and make it down alive."