On 11 June Iganzio Piuzzi died in Gemona aged 73. He was one of the greatest mountaineers in the period 1950 – 1970. His climbing companion Roberto Sorgato remembers him in the following interview.
Ignazio Piussi belonged to the mountains. He was born in the mountains and it is perhaps because of this that he was different, both as man and mountaineer. Things are certainly different if you’re born with horizons marked by mountain peaks and if your forefathers invented the profession of Mountain Guides in Italy’s Friuli, it leaves an indelible mark, an imprinting which accompanies wherever you go.
"Piussi was someone special, set apart from the rest, from everything" are the first words Roberto Sorgato used to describe his climbing companion and above all "50 year life companion."
Sorgato clearly has troubling finding the right words, the sentences come out slowly, there’s suffering; words probably fail to explain such an intimate friendship. There’s no trace of celebration in the thoughts and memories which, ever so slowly, blossom and flower, wrapped in immense nostalgia. "Ignazio never talked about the mountains and his climbs, for 50 years he never talked about his undertakings. He only mentioned them once, but only to advise me against climbing his Direttissima on Torre Trieste. At the time it was a coveted first repeat, but he said the rock was completely friable, a pile of choss."
"Ignazio was immensely humane. And naturally he had his defects" continues Sorgato, choosing carefully from the thousands of images which certainly fill his mind. "He was loyal, reserved, used to speaking his mind and this also made him enemies. What stood out though was his human nature, more than his sporting or mountaineering abilities. Doubtlessly he was great mountaineer and a great athlete, but apart from his great ascents one mustn’t forget his victories in cross country skiing ski jumping. Ignazio was a complete natural, he had both fitness and power. I‘ve never seen anyone like him.
At one point he was on Mont Blanc, peniless as usualy. He left Chamonix on foot, reached Les Houches and went straight up the face which after a few hundred meters led to Dôme du Goûter and then the summit of Mont Blanc. From here he traversed Mont Maudit and Tacul and descended Vallée Blanche and returned to Chamonix. An enormous traverse, all in a single day, without saying anything to anyone. Perhaps I’m the only one to know about this.
There would be countless things to say… such as the fact that he had a tough life because he was both a genius and gullible. But when the moment was right he knew how to tell a story, he was a great entertainer, he drew you in. He had travelled the world and although he had never studied them, he spoke many different languages. He enjoyed doing things, building things: right up to the end he directed the works to renovate his hut Malga Cragnedul. And he loved his land, his mountains, the Julian Alps.
I’ve just spoken to Pierre Mazeau, he said that with Piussi an era has come to an end. Yes, there are no longer men and mountaineers like him."
WebTv TrentoFilmfestival >> Ladro di montagne - Ignazio Piussi: mountaineer and explorer, a film by Nereo Zeper
Ignazio Piussi was born on 22 April 1935 in Pezzeit (Val Raccolana, Friuli, Italy), the last of ten children. His greatgrandfather Giuseppe Piussi, otherwise known as Pucich, was the first mountain guide in Val Raccolana. His grandfather Ignazio, his uncle twice-removed Osvaldo Pesamosca (mountain guide for Julius Kugy) and his son Davide Pesamosca were all mountain guides.
1952 first mountaineering experiences with the brothers Arnaldo and Berto Perissutti and Lorenzo Bulfon.
1954 1st ascent North Face Piccolo Mangart di Coritenza.
1955 1st ascent North Face (E Pillar) of Mt. Veunza (Gruppo del Mangart) with Perissutti brothers.
1955 1st ascent repeat of via Lacedelli, Cima Scotoni (Dolomites)
1956 1st winter traverse of Mangart chain with Lorenzo Bulfon, Arnaldo Perissutti and Bruno Giacomuzzi)
1956 1st ascent North Face (W Pillar) of Mt. Veunza (Gruppo del Mangart) with A. Perissutti
1958 la sua 1a ascensione solitaria: spigolo Deye-Peters sulla Torre della Madre dei Camosci (Jof Fuart).
1959 1st ascent South Face of Torre Trieste (Civetta - Dolomites) with Giorgio Radaelli.
1961 1st ascent Freney Central Pillar (Mont Blanc);
1962 1st ascent N Pillar of Piccolo Mangart di Coritenza with Sergio Bellini e U. Perissutti
1963 1st winter ascent of Solleder-Lettembauer, Civetta (Dolomites) with Sergio Radaelli and Tony Hiebeler
1965 1st ascent Punta Tissi (Civetta- Dolomites) with Roberto Sorgato and Pierre Mazeaud
1967 1st ascent NW arete Cima su Alto (Civetta - Dolomites) with Alziro Molin, Aldo Anghileri, Ernesto Panzeri
1968 Antarctic expedition organised by C.A.I. and Centro Nazionale Ricerche. During the 21 day exploration they climbed 8 virgin peaks. They were the first Italians to explore the Antarctic continent.
1975 Italian expedition led by Riccardo Cassin to the South Face of Lhotse