Ski mountaineering giant Denis Trento perishes in Italian Alps

The Italian mountain guide and former ski mountaineering champion Denis Trento perished on Friday at the age of 41 on the north face of Testa del Paramont in Valle d'Aosta.
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Denis Trento and the Rochefort Ridge & Grandes Jorasses traverse during his second attempt on 03/09/2016
Denis Trento

He seemed absolutely invincible. For years in competitions, then up in the mountains. No climb was too strenuous, no descent too technical, no opponent too fast. Yet, unfortunately, this is not the case. On Friday morning, on Testa del Paramont in the Italian Alps, Denis Trento lost in life. A mountain guide and former ski mountaineering champion, the a 41-year-old was absolute point of reference for ski mountaineering. Not just in Italy.

As an athlete of the Army Sports Center in Courmayeur, during the first decade of the 2000s Trento literally dominated ski mountaineering competitions, winning the World Relay Championships in 2008 and 2011, and the Team Championships in 2011, as well as two victories in the European ski mountaineering Championships, in 2007 in Relay and in 2009 in Team.

But Trento's powerful heart beat above all for the high mountains, and it is only natural therefore that he excelled in the mammoth Great Classics. Stand out moments include victories in the Mezzalama Trophy in 2009 with Manfred Reichegger and Matteo Eydallin, the Tour du Rutor in both 2009 and 2011 with Matteo Eydallin, the Adamello Ski Raid in 2008 with Martin Riz and Alain Seletto, and the Pierra Menta in 2009 with Matteo Eydallin and, incredibly, joint equal with Denis Bruno and Manfred Reichegger. Listing all his other excellent placings is impossible; to all effects, Trento was a fundamental pillar of the Italian ski mountaineering movement.

After retiring from competitions, Trento did not lose sight of the mountains. In particular the peaks of the Aosta Valley. On the contrary, he was the first to put on his skis at the start of the season and the last to take them off months and months later. In actual fact, for him there was no official end to the season, and it is in this context that he rose to new challenges, always at a speed that was difficult to comprehend: the traverse of the Rochefort Ridge of the Grandes Jorasses in 2016, the linking of the Bonatti and Aigle on Petit Mont Blanc in 2018, the Innominata ridge and the Monte Rosa express with Robert Antonioli a few months later, the Central Pillar of Frêney One Push with Filip Babicz in 2020. And of course, important descents such as the South East Couloir of the Grand Capucin with Davide Capozzi and the Quid Pluris Couloir on Mont Brouillard in 2021. All of this, while working as technical director of the Italian ski mountaineering federation, while guiding and encouraging above all the new recruits.

Trento was one of those people who exuded safety and confidence and, although he could have been, he was not at all full of himself. On the contrary, he was far too humble. The first time he introduced himself to us he stated "My name is Denis Trento, I'm a mountain guide and I was a pretty good ski mountaineering athlete." More than pretty good, we replied. And after his quick ascent of the Cresta dell'Innominata he specified that, if we considered it sufficiently interesting, he could write something about it but "placing the emphasis on how to manage a rope team in safety." In short, Trento was a mountain guide at heart, born to educate and share his immense knowledge of the mountains with everyone.

Trento loved going into the mountains with his trusted climbing partners, just as much as he loved starting off directly from home and skinning up alone. In fact, he was often out and about on solo trips, but then he'd share everything on social media, with his characteristic verve, funny but sharp, exhaustive but without frills. As of Friday all of this is no more. He leaves behind a wife and three children, and a void that, at least for now, seems absolutely invincible.

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