Cesare Maestri [Photo] Giulio Malfer
Posted on: August 25, 2002
Cesare Maestri, "the Spider of the Dolomites," was the first person to establish solo climbs of the sixth grade (UIAA—roughly equivalent to YDS 5.10); he also was adept at solo down climbing at similar levels of difficulty. In Italy, he occupies a rarified position in the pantheon of elite Italian alpinists. He will forever be remembered the world over, however, for his association with a mountain far from his home. His claim of the first ascent of Cerro Torre, with the brilliant ice specialist Tony Egger, in 1959 (via a route that has yet to be repeated), created an international polemic that he "answered" with a return to the mountain in 1970. In that year, on two separate trips (a winter attempt in May and a summer attempt the following December), Maestri climbed the Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre (the so-called "Compressor Route") to the end of the technical difficulties on rock, some 60 meters below the mushroom summit. He ignored the final ice slopes and mushroom that mark the true summit, dismissing the mushroom with the comment, "It's just a lump of ice, not really part of the mountain; it will blow away one of these days."
Maestri owns the climbing shop La Botega di Cesare Maestri in Madonna di Campiglio, in the Brenta Dolomites, where he lives with his wife. He is currently training for a November 2002 climb of the Tibetan 8000-meter peak Cho Oyu, "to spread a message of peace to all people."
Cesare Maestri: curriculum vitae
1951: Detassis-Giordani Route (5.5, 820m), Croz dell'Altissimo, solo ascent, and first descent (solo) of Paganella.
1952: Campanile Comicci Route (5.8 A1, 350m), Salame del Sassolungo, first solo ascent. Solleder Route (5.8, 1200m), Civetta, first solo ascent.
1953: Solda-Conforto Route (5.9 A2, 650m), Marmolada, first solo ascent. Guides' Route (5.8, 850m), Crozzon di Brenta, first solo ascent.
1954: Solo traverse of Ambiez-Tuckett (sixteen summits in eighteen hours).
1955: Southwest Ridge (5.6, 650m [from the Carrel Hut]), Matterhorn, solo winter ascent. Oppio Route (5.9 A1, 800m), Croz dell'Altissimo, first solo ascent.
1956: Guides' Route (5.8, 850m), Crozzon di Brenta, first descent (solo). Solleder Route (5.8, 700m), Sass Maor, first winter solo ascent. Micheluzzi Route (5.8, 500m), Piz Ciavazes, first solo ascent.
1958: Detassis-Dibona Route (5.8, 850m), Croz dell'Altissimo, first descent (solo).
1959: East Face to North Ridge (grade given at time of ascent as "ice up to 80 degrees," 1374m), Cerro Torre, first ascent (disputed), Argentine Patagonia, with Tony Egger (Egger perished on the descent, killed by an avalanche).
1960: Direttissima Route (A2, 350m), Red Wall, Roda di Vael, first ascent, with C. Baldessarri, and first descent (solo).
1961: Buhl Route (5.10a/b A1, 350m), Roda di Vael, first solo ascent, and solo descent of Direttissima Route.
1963: Kolibris Route (5.10a/b A2, 550m), Cima Grande, with C. Baldessari.
1970: Southeast Ridge (a.k.a. Compressor Route, VI 5.10b A2 70 degrees, 900m; first complete ascent, Brewer-Bridwell, 1979), Cerro Torre, Argentine Patagonia.