Lord, Give Me A Sign

The Tre Cime Di Lavaredo are amogst the most famous peaks in the Dolomites and almost 10,000 feet high. The north faces shown in the photo are overhanging limestone and present an enormous challenge to the most accomplished nountaineer even in good weather.  In 1953 the  greatest climber of all time, the Italian Walter Bonatti, climbed all three north faces in winter, one after another, using only a few pitons and a hemp rope. During the ascents temperatures fell to 24 degrees below zero and as he had no modern clothing he prepared for the assault by sleeping out in the mountains in extreme conditions.

Almost half way up the face of the Cima Ovest, the right hand peak in the top photo, Bonatti was tackling an immense overhang and on the brink of exhaustion when he came across a piton left by an earlier climber attempting the face in the previous summer. Hanging from the iron peg was a small porcelain sign which had been removed from the carriage of a French train:

It is dangerous to lean out!

Walter Bonatti’s book, “The Mountains Of My Life” has just been reissued and is the most astonishing climbing autobiography of all time. You can get it from Amazon.


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