Remembering Cesarino Fava

Posted on: April 30, 2008


Cesarino Fava. [Photo] Alessandro Ghezzer/ www.girovagandointrentino.it

Editor's Note: Alpinist remembers Cesarino Fava, who died on April 22, 2008 in Male, Italy. The Italian mountaineer's greatest love were the peaks of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. If you have thoughts to share, please comment below; if you have photos you'd like to include in this tribute, please contact the online editorial department.

Cesarino Fava grew up in the Trentino region of Italy and was the second-youngest of ten children. He served five years in the army before booking passage on a cargo ship to Buenos Aires. Fava spent many of his eighty-seven years in Argentina, where he discovered the Argentina Alpine Club and found himself in one of the best possible places to fuel his passion for alpine climbing.

Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Fava summited countless peaks in Argentina and Chile. He established a new route on the central spur of the north face of Nevado de Chani (19,882') and a new route on the south face of Mercedario (22,047'), among others.

He is most known for his role in the deep history of Cerro Torre (10,280'), in the Chalten Massif in southern Patagonia. In 1959 he accompanied Cesare Maestri and Toni Egger on their attempt to make the first ascent via the northeast ridge. Because he was carrying gear to support the pair's summit attempt, he turned around at the Col of Conquest while his partners pushed on toward the summit. Egger was killed by an avalanche on the descent, and Fava found Maestri six days later lying in the snow after a fall, severely frostbitten and near death. Fava saved his life by helping him descend off the mountain successfully. Fava supported the assertion that Maestri and Egger reached the summit, a much-disputed claim that adds to the complicated history of the peak.

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In 1970, Fava returned to Cerro Torre with Maestri and others with a 150-pound jackhammer and helped to establish the beginning of the controversial Compressor Route on the southeast ridge.

Fava also contributed to Italian mountaineering literature with the publication of his diary in 1959, and his book Patagonia, Terra di sogni infratti in 1999. Both books added evidence to the debates about Cerro Torre as they provided descriptions of that trip and his many other accomplishments.

Fava had a charming personality and was described as a true friend by his climbing partners and mere acquaintances alike. His compassionate character shined through when he saved the life of an American whose guide abandoned him on Aconcagua. Fava made great sacrifices to continue with the rescue, as his feet were so frostbitten that they mostly had to be amputated. Nevertheless, Fava did not stop climbing. It wasn't until later in life that he returned to his home in the Dolomites.

The mountaineering community mourns the loss of Cesarino Fava, a man full of everlasting vitality and passionate love for both his family and the mountains that inspired him in his daily life.

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