The Italian mountaineer Cesare Maestri died on January 19, 2021 at the age of 91. He will be remembered forever as the spider of the Dolomites “Ragno delle Dolomiti” as well as for the controversy surrounding the Cerro Torre.

Cesare Maestri, mountain guide and writer from the province of Trento, was one of the best climbers of his time. He made a name for himself with difficult solo ascents and first ascents in the Brenta Group and the Dolomites and was known as the spider of the Dolomites (Ragno delle Dolomiti).

Two legends of the mountaineering scene

Controversy over Cerro Torre in Patagonia

In 1957 Cesare Maestri traveled to Patagonia for the first time on an expedition. Bruno Detassis, who led the expedition, said at the time that Cerro Torre was too risky to be climbed. A year later, Cesare Maestri traveled back to Patagonia with Cesarino Fava and the Tyrolean mountaineer and ice specialist Toni Egger to climb Cerro Torre.

According to their own statements, Egger and Maestri reached the summit on January 31, 1959. Egger's fatal accident occurred during the descent, who carried the camera with the summit photo on him. Doubts about the ascent quickly arose in the mountaineering scene, which hardened over the years due to contradicting statements and facts. Today experts largely agree that Cerro Torre was not climbed back then.

Doubts about the ascent quickly arose in the mountaineering scene.

Return with the compressor

Eleven years later, Cesare Maestri returned to Cerro Torre with a compressor, digging his way up the wall, hook by hook. At the transition from rock to ice, he set the last diverter. Cesare and his climbing partners invested well over 50 days in setting up the tour, which became known as the Compressor Route. The tour became one of the most frequently repeated routes on Cerro Torre, but it was also heavily criticized because of the walking style.

The tour became one of the most frequently repeated routes on Cerro Torre, but it was also heavily criticized because of the walking style.

Cesare Maestri in his early years

Over 3 inspections

The Cerro Torre weighed heavily on Cesare Maestri's shoulders. Apart from that, his résumé reads like a mountaineering fairy tale. Maestri has recorded over 3 ascents in his route book over the years. Around a third of these ascent were solo ascent. In 500 he even led an expedition to Shishapangma (2002m) in Tibet together with Sergio Martini and Fausto De Stefani.

In an interview with journalist Nereo Pederzolli, Cesare Maestri said:

The best climber is the one who dies in his own bed

 Cesare Maestri last lived in Madonna di Campiglio and died on January 19, 2021 at the age of 91.

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Credits: Cover picture Giulia Battisti / Trento Film Festival