Manuel Lugli remembers Roby Piantoni, the Italian alpinist from Bergamo who lost his life yesterday on Shisha Pangma, Tibet.
Modena 15 October 2009. It's been a long day, it began early this morning. In the worst way possible, with the news about Roby Piantoni's accident. Unfortunately the words on the phone left little room for hopes or doubts, as sometimes happens in cases like these. Because these words - initially indirectly via my friend Ennio Spiranelli then directly by the broken-hearted voice of Marco Astori - came directly from his closest friends, powerless witnesses to his fall. The details aren't that important now, on the contrary, they aren't important at all.
What counts, unfortunately, is that Roby Piantoni has left his life on those steep and sparkling slopes on the south face of Shisha Pangma. I'd known Roby for a number of years, since the start of his Himalayan career which he started at an extremely young age and continued together with his inseparable friend Marco Astori. They were a strong partnership, close-knit and clean: true mountaineers that always confronted the mountains in loyal manner. Performing brilliant ascents - Everst 2006 springs to mind - without ever losing that typical Bergamasco humility and frankness, which comes through hard and serious work, in both life and in the mountains.
Roby often searched for new routes, his imagination took flight to force the habit of existing routes. This is how things evolved on his attempt of Broad Peak and now on Shisha Pangma. But he knew full well, with a wisdom far superior than his age might lead to believe, when the moment had come to accept the advice, more or less explicit, of the mountains and the elements.
This time he knew it too, turning back from an ascent he'd attempted for a month and a half, frustrated by harsh and cold weather. Unfortunately this didn't suffice and Roby, like many other valourous Italian mountaineers over the last two years, flew away. Much remains of him, of his beautiful ascents, his nice thoughts, his love for the Himalaya and her people. A love which induced him to collect funds for projects destined to help Nepalese children.
Namastè, Roby, may the snow be light.