Walter's mountain

Publish date 09-03-2022

by Renzo Agasso

They asked Walter Bonatti, the most extraordinary mountaineer-explorer of the twentieth century: "Are you a believer?" Answer: "In a sense I am." "That is, do you see God in everything?" “I certainly see the existence of a higher reason that governs us, but its dimension is cosmic. I also recognize the immense wisdom of the Supreme Highs of every religion to which we must refer ”.
It is not clear whether Walter Bonatti believed in God. But his life - which ended ten years ago, with the ascent to heaven, devastated by illness - was all turned upwards. On the conquered peaks, in the whiteness of the snow, in the clear blue sky that hurts the eyes, he has always been happy, immensely happy. Forget about the fatigue of the climb, sweat, cold, ice, storm, death of one's own - always escaped - and of others. The mountain is severe, hostile, enemy, to face it with superiority and superficiality, he said. He loved her, respected her, feared her. Therefore he has managed many times to tame it, win it, conquer it.

Love, respect and fear shown even in the exploration of the most inaccessible places, among remote and unknown tribes, mysterious animals, tropical and polar climates. Which he narrated in splendid reports on the weekly Epoca, in numerous books, interviews, conferences.
The clear eyes, the white hair, the hands marked by ropes nails rocks have shown the beauty, the uniqueness, the fragility of creation. Cantor of nature and, in particular, defender of the mountains. He said one day that “pollution is not just throwing cans on the street. It is also bringing masses of superficial tourists into contact with so-called primitive populations, creating devastating imbalances that end up having a profound effect. We have before us a world, a situation, which cannot be healed with a plaster. We must go back to the root, the basis of the problems. Here a fundamental personal problem is at stake, that of individual responsibility ». Thoughts and words from the year 1979. Forty-two before the Glasgow meeting on the salvation of the world.

Question: «Do you consider the earth to be large or small?». Answer: «Small for the destruction that is being done, but great because beyond commonplaces there is everything to discover. But I don't mean traditional discovery, but introspective exploration. We are the earth ».
On the mountain Walter Bonatti was looking for himself. The conscience of him. His heart. And - who knows - God too.

Renzo Agasso
NP December 2021

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