The Italian mountaineer Cesare Maestri, nicknamed „The Spider of the Dolomites – Il Ragno delle Dolomiti“ died on Tuesday at the age of 91. Maestri’s death was announced on Facebook by his son Gian. “This time,” he wrote, “Cesare wrote in the summit book about the ascent of his life. “A big hug to those who loved him”.
Cesare Maestri, who was known both as a writer and a climber, was born in Trento in the northern Italian province of Trentino. He began climbing in the Dolomites, where he repeated many famous routes, often alone and free. He was the first to climb many routes in the highest grade, at that time maigschen 6th grade, which is why he was nicknamed „Spider“. In 1952 he became a mountain guide. His notable solos include the Solleder route on the Civetta, the Solda-Conforto route on the Marmolada and the southwest ridge of the Matterhorn in winter.
During his life, however, the Cerro Torre was the focus:
After explorations in 1958, according to Cesare Maestri, on January 30, 1959, together with the Tyrolean Toni Egger, the first ascent via the north side was successful. During the descent, Egger had a fatal accident in an ice avalanche. Since his camera was lost in the process, Maestri could not prove that they had actually reached the summit. Since the late 1960s, at the latest, his statements have been questioned by more and more mountaineers and the Cerro Torre has been declared as still unclimbed.
Despite the considerable contradictions in the descriptions of the 1959 expedition and the lack of finds of the equipment allegedly left behind in the rock face, Cesare Maestri never deviated from climbing Cerro Torre with Toni Egger for the first time.
Eleven years later, because of the intolerable doubts and criticism of the public, Maestri returned to Cerro Torre to „repeat“ his first ascent. But instead of trying „his“ first ascent route, Maestri bolted his route in the southwest flank to the summit ice rink using a petrol-powered compressor. But he did not step on the summit: “One day it will be blown away”. Maestri saw the mountain again as climbing and considered his honor restored. For some critics, this attempt is not considered an ascent either, since Maestri had not reached the highest point of the mountain.
The compressor still hangs in the wall below the summit ice mushroom. Maestris route is known today under the name „Compressor Route“ and was on 20./21. January 2012 by the then 21-year-old David Lama from Austria for the first time free climbed.
Despite the quarrels, Cesare Maestri was probably one of the best, if not the best free climbers in the Alpine region in the early 1950s. Its first ascent is evidence of this.
Goodbye and Rest in Peace, Cesare!