Part 2 - The mountaineer: from the Alps to the world

Published on 15/11/2022

Toni approaches the mountains in the early 1930s, when he is just of age. He attends the “Giovane Montagna” group of Vicenza, a Catholic-inspired mountaineering association, of which he became president in 1936, when he was only 22 years old. It is almost a vocation, so much so that he wrote in a letter of 1945: “Spiritually (and I would be tempted to say also physically) one is born mountaineer; if you don't have what it takes, you can't become a mountaineer, neither through your own work nor - much less - through the work of others. [...] in this precisely lies its superiority [of mountaineering]: in being a continuous becoming, in being a spiritual and physical activity that does not suffer from classifications because all those who practice it are themselves creators of their own all subjective self-education and mountaineering mentality since the beginning."
He starts his activity in the Dolomites but already in 1937-38 he ventures with friends to the Western Alps, in the Monte Rosa group and on the Matterhorn. Starting from 1939, while remaining close to the Vicenza group, he begins to devote himself to greater climbs that would better refine his possibilities.

Shortly after he opens his first route: on Mount Pasubio, in the Vicentine Pre-Alps, the east face of Soglio Rosso which "almost cost the collapse of the entire Pasubio, so many boulders had been pulled down by him and his companion", wrote the his friend Gianni Pieropan.
Since the beginning, mountaineering is a shared activity for Toni, even if he understands and accepts the approach of the soloists, followed by other mountaineers. In a 1969 interview he will say: “By my principles and my feelings, I enjoy a mountain climb when I can share this joy with others. But if a mountaineer achieves maximum inner satisfaction by isolating himself, I can understand that he is making a solitary ascent. Especially if in this condition he enhances his competitive spirit. "
In 1940 he moves to Valle d'Aosta (link to article's part 1) and the center of his activity is moved to the west, but on 9th July 1943 he is back in the Dolomites for the first ascent of the "direct route" to the “Anulare delle Cinque Dita”, together with Alessandro Miotti, with difficulties of fifth grade plus. On modern guides, the route is described as “daring rock climbing in part very friable, very little repeated”. Ironically, it is a few steps away from the Sasso Piatto (Plattkofel) on which he will die in 1970.

Also in 1943 together with Miotti, Nicolino and Troi he climbs the Hirondelles Ridge on the Grandes Jorasses (4208m) tracing a variant.
In the summer of 1944 it is the turn of the "Gobbi route" at Pic Gamba (3069m) together with Augusto Frattola. It is the first time that the two climb together, but Toni decides to jump in despite the perplexities of his wife Romilda. On this adventure he will then write an article in Lo Scarpone, the magazine of the CAI (Italian Alpine club), concluding that at the top he will also find "the satisfaction of the husband who has won over his wife's arguments."

Many years later, his friend Sir Anthony Rawlinson will write that Toni “did not rate himself specially gifted as a climber. But by hard work, intelligence and fitness he made himself an acknowledged master of his profession." His determination and passion have always guided him. In an article in Lo Scarpone of 1944 he will say that “muscles are worth nothing without a heart that directs them and a passion that exalts them”.
In 1946 Toni becomes a mountain guide, but he continues the high-level mountaineering activity which, according to him, is essential for the proper preparation of the guide. Mountaineering will always be a complete and pervasive activity for him: "I tell young people that they must be able to understand not only the sporting aspect of the mountain, its rocks, its glaciers, its walls and its ridges, but also its flowers, its animals and, above all, its inhabitants to get to respect them as they deserve ”he will say in a 1969 interview.
Between the end of the 40s and the beginning of the 50s, my grandfather shifts his attention to winter ascents. “Winter climbs have always been my obsession, if only as a palliative to some of my Himalayan aspirations” he writes in his notes.
In those years, the definition of winter ascents is not univocal, and the climbs carried out in March are generally considered winter ascents. In fact, Toni writes: “A thorny topic is the period within which a climb can be considered a winter ascent. I have met various mountaineers on this subject, but none of them have given me an exhaustive answer, nor on the other hand do I know that there is so far an agreement - albeit tacit and due to custom - on these borders. It would therefore be desirable that on the occasion of some gathering of the most famous European militant mountaineers - similar to what happened two years ago in Chamonix for what refers to the graduation of the difficulties - a definitive word would be said in this regard. For my part, I think that there is only one criterion to follow, and precisely that winter ascent should be considered only the one in which are well present the factors 1 (the shortness of the hours of light available) and 2 (the intense cold) I mentioned. It follows that the dates of the calendar (21st December – 21st March) or those of the Alpine winter (1st December – 31st March) must be followed. I do not think it is possible to go beyond these dates, precisely because outside of them the importance of the two aforementioned factors is considerably diminished. "
On 24th March 1948 he makes the first winter ascent of the Hirondelles Ridge at Grandes Jorasses with François Thomasset, a mountain guide and brother-in-law of Toni (he is the husband of Elvira, Romilda's sister). “It was François who threw the stone and I couldn't help but pick it up” writes Toni.

On 26th-27th-28th February 1949 he makes the first winter ascent of the South Ridge of the Aiguille Noire du Peuterey (3773m) together with Enrico Rey, grandson of Emile Rey (1846-1895) known as the "Prince of the guides" and first ascender of the Aiguille Noire itself (1877), of the Aiguille Blanche (1885) and of the whole Peuterey ridge (1893).
In the story of the climb, Toni writes "The most beautiful hour of the South Ridge of the Noire is undoubtedly that of sunset, when the last sun with large orange brushstrokes chisels the granite ridge making it even more daring and harmonious [...] . The rock then comes to life, you seem to have it there at your fingertips, frank and loyal, sweetly warm under the caress of the last rays. [...] And it is a show that excites me and puts me in an imperious impatience to climb, to find myself above all on that route, I will do a thousand other routes but none as beautiful and exciting as this one. Because I went to the South Ridge in winter precisely out of the desire to find myself, at sunset, on its granite in the midst of that triumph of light, enjoying the last warmth of the sun on the rock. […] It was not the desire for a mountaineering affirmation that decided me to start at any cost, but the absolute need to climb, and to climb the South Crest of the Noire. "

On 28th February, Enrico and Toni are returning and fully enjoying the moment: "And then, despite everything, despite my hands are in a pitiful state, loyal to my traditions, I order the stop and I give myself a smoke of my pipe, the first and 'last of the day: it is the prize - and I taste it in every sense - that I invariably grant myself on the way back from each ascent: there is no saint who makes me give up this quarter of an hour of complete relaxation of the nervous and muscular system, of my whole self in short: the eyes wander freely around, the mind no longer worried about what awaits me later, lets its thousand thoughts run where they want, the pride of victory sings inside me and already the nostalgia for what has been creeps into my soul and makes him suffer sweetly, sweetly. "
At the beginning of March 1953 Toni meets his fellow guide Arturo Ottoz, and, as we read in his writings, "we find ourselves with our unconscious gaze turned to the glaciers up there and we understand that our sudden silence hides a sprouting of very similar projects. . No desire to disarm despite Arturo's 43 years and my almost 40, [...] the first rumors of an upcoming Italian expedition to K2: there is enough to find complete agreement on something really hard in an instant " . The two have never climbed together, but in Toni there is a strong "desire, curiosity, the pleasure of roping with Arturo." The chosen goal is the first winter ascent of the Major route on Mont Blanc. On Sunday 22nd March Toni and Arturo set off from the Torino hut, on skis “to guarantee us a less tiring and faster return from the summit”. With the aim of saving weight, Arturo shortens an old pair of skis and Toni takes those of his 8-year-old son. After a night at the Fourche bivouac, the two leave at 4:45 am to descend on the Brenva glacier and attack the route.

They alternate on the lead, and Toni admires Arturo's technical qualities: “I see that body, even if square, stocky, powerful, becoming elastic, light and extremely elegant; to become an admirable ornament of a natural wonder which is this white and airy ridge. On ice Arturo is truly a superior being. Precise: his abilities and his technical safety are inherent in his nature as a mountaineer […], but in him they are enhanced by his nervous calm ”.

At 20:30 on 23rd March 1953, Toni and Arturo are on the top of Mont Blanc (almost 16 hours after leaving the bivouac). "We hug each other in one of those gestures of friendship that you would try in vain to repeat on the plain; happy to finally get to know each other fully, to have lived the wonderful adventure together. We tell each other with a lump in the throat. The full moon floods the immense solitude and absolute silence that surround us with light. "
La Stampa of 26th March 1953 writes "On a peak of Mont Blanc from a vertical of a thousand meters - another daring mountaineering feat." In the article, Toni is interviewed, and he specifies that "You need to climb trusting in the grip of crampons and in God. Fortunately, the snow cover holds and the 12-point Superleggeri Grivel (link to the related article) work properly."
Unfortunately Arturo will die three years later in 1956, at the age of 47, under an avalanche right at the base of the Major route. Toni will dedicate the story of their winter endeavor to him: “This writing is dedicated to you, Arturo. Excuse me if in it I could only remotely echo the words of admiration and gratitude that I was able to say to you then, in the pure silence of the summit. […] I know well that the praises annoyed you as much as the acknowledgments were appreciated! Maybe that's why you wanted to stay up there. In order not to hear unnecessary praise on your coffin, satisfied by the acknowledgments that your moved climbing companions expressed to you, on the short square of the summit, in a moment of complete sincerity and profound gratitude. "
As predicted by Toni and Arturo, in the following months the Italians actually organize an expedition to K2, the second highest mountain on earth, conquering its untouched summit on 31st July, 1954. To his great disappointment and regret, Toni is not selected for this expedition. He will not be the only illustrious excluded: Riccardo Cassin will also remain out of the group.
However, my grandfather's mountaineering career is far from over, and indeed arrives in his golden period precisely in 1957-1958. In the summer of 1957 Walter Bonatti, who moved to Courmayeur in that year, walks to Toni's shop in Courmayeur and suggests that they tackle together the last great itinerary still to be climbed on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, the Grand Pilier d'Angle (4234m, a thousand-meter pillar that rises from the Brenva basin and rejoins the Peuterey ridge), which was a great aspiration of both. Toni does not hesitate and the two decide to leave, without however revealing their destination to anyone, except to Romilda (Toni's wife) who will have to keep a rigorous silence.

The Grand Pilier d'Angle is a hot topic of the summer of 1957: as reported by the Gazzetta Sera of 5th August of that year, two other groups are in Courmayeur ready to launch the attack (a French and a Swiss rope team), but Toni and Walter are the first to leave.
The two leave the Torino hut on 31st July at 2.30 pm and reach the foot of the Pilier d’Angle wall, where they bivouac. They have with them the bare minimum: "2 ropes of 41 meters (one 8.5mm and one 10mm), 35 pitons of all sizes, five wooden wedges, five aiders, two Grivel ice axes, a single pair of crampons, a bivouac tent and half a kilo of jam, sugar, chocolate, biscuits and powdered milk. No water bottles and no fire: we have to be as light as possible ”.
In the story of the climb, which will be published by Epoca magazine, Toni defines himself as "the old" and Bonatti "the young". At 6:30 am on 1st August they attack the Pilier, climbing until 8:30pm to ascend the first 300 meters. "Too little! Great route but the rock is too often a “traitor”. The old man smokes a pipe; then at midnight he sees a comet, wakes the young and they both admire it for half an hour, while it shines between Aiguille Verte and Grandes Jorasses. "
After the bivouac, on 2nd August they start again, "the rock has definitely improved, healthier, more granite and even - if possible - more overhanging: but the young and the old left in search of" nice and frank "difficulties and do not complain. The rhythm and the joy of the action are perfect: it was necessary, because now there is no pitch that does not have its good sixth grade passage, sometimes in aid climbing, more often in free climbing. " They tackle the crux, a 40-meter dihedral that Bonatti solves brilliantly. On top of the rock difficulties, they cut the residual wedges into strips, set them on fire and make water by melting the snow, with the addition of sugar. It is then the turn of the mixed terrain, before the new bivouac on another terrace.
On 3rd August they leave at 6:30am, complete the stretch that separates them from the top of the Pilier where they arrive at 10am. "the old reaches the summit and lights his pipe to hide the tears that run down under his glasses on the face because the young is enthusiastically shaking his hand and says, with a bright smile "Grigio, we have made it!".

It is then the turn of the stretch of ice, which is the final part of the Peuterey ridge. Toni and Walter arrive at the top of Mont Blanc at 6:30 pm, the feat is accomplished. They have used around seventy pitons, of which only 4 were left on the wall. They then go down to the Grand Mulets Refuge, where they spend the night, to go up the next day to the Aiguille du Midi then to the Colle del Gigante and down to Courmayeur (remember that the Mont Blanc tunnel will only open in 1965), where they will be welcomed by a party crowd.
In an article of 5th August in the Gazzetta Sera, we read that "The admiration that their endeavor arouses among all connoisseurs of the high mountains, among all sixth graders, is literally boundless." In his book Mountains of a lifetime ”, Bonatti will define this route as“ A difficult and elegant itinerary in a grandiose environment”.
1957 continues in style. Toni is called to participate in the Italian Expedition to the Patagonian Andes, directed by the entrepreneur Guido Monzino (son of Franco Monzino, founder of the Standa department stores) and made up of a large group of Matterhorn Mountain Guides, including Jean Bich, Camillotto Pellissier, Leonardo Carrel and Pierino Pession.

The group leaves on November 21st from Milan and for Toni it is the first time on a plane! Despite the courage shown several times in the mountains, the flight disturbs him. He writes to his wife: Once in Patagonia, the ascent is slowed down by bad weather, with snowstorms and the famous Patagonian wind, with gusts of over two hundred kilometers per hour. Monzino writes in the book “Italy in Patagonia”: “the power of this element [the wind] is always unpredictable; for over fifty days we hated the wind and loved the Paine."“Unfortunately it is as I feared, I suffer and I am not calm. […]. The first hour was hell, not the take-off that didn't make an impression on me, but that slow climb to reach the fixed altitude for the flight, 5000m. This damned plane never went up, never went up! Naturally within me the darkest forecasts: he can't do it, he can't do it! […]. I envied those who went by sea like never before. "

Once in Patagonia, the ascent is slowed down by bad weather, with snowstorms and the famous Patagonian wind, with gusts of over two hundred kilometers per hour. Monzino writes in the book “Italy in Patagonia”: “the power of this element [the wind] is always unpredictable; for over fifty days we hated the wind and loved the Paine."

Toni is the only "outsider" in the large group of Matterhorn guides and must politically manage the situation and group dynamics, in order not to be excluded and isolated from others.
The summit of Paine Principal is reached on 27th December, 1957, after a month of effort and three attempts, by Bich, Carrel, Pellissier, Pession and Toni himself.

"Yesterday 27th December we reached the highest summit of Cerro Paine which at our altimeter shoed an altitude of 3835m. [...] The victory came thanks to a day that was not beautiful but passable, thanks to the technical skills and the decision of Bich and, modestly, of the other 4, and in good measure thanks to my diplomatic action that finally managed to dispel that sense of animosity among the various members so that everyone's forces finally wanted the conquest. I'm happy. [...] Now everything is in place and everyone is intimately happy with the resolution and everyone agrees. Very sustained difficulties such as Major route on Mont Blanc (shorter, however, as ascent), I'm happy to have been in the game too. "

“My impressions of the summit? Peace of mind, a bit of pride for being one of the 5 to tread a ground never touched before by human foot, full of affection for the 4 fellow adventurers with whom we exchanged a brotherly and truly felt and happy kiss . It was after 5 in the afternoon but without concern for the return, which was full of calm and wonderful when at 10 in the evening, the difficulties ended, on the glacier plateau the moon, or rather the half moon, suddenly appeared behind an ice spire to illuminate the white expanse swept by the usual wind with a pale light. A truly unforgettable return, dear to my heart as an enthusiast of the most beautiful spectacles of nature. "

On 27th January, the group leaves Punta Arenas for Rio Gallegos, then Buenos Aires where a press conference and reception are held at the Italian Embassy. Then they continue their flight to finally arrive at Milan Malpensa airport on the evening of 5th February, 1958.
In those years, however, the great extra-European playing field is concentrated on the great ranges of the Himalayas and Karakorum. In 1950, the first 8000er is conquered by the French, Annapurna (8091m). In 1953 it is the turn of Everest at 8848m (British expedition) and in 1954 the Italians climb K2 (8611m). By the end of 1957, 11 out of the 14 8000er have been conquered.
In 1958, the CAI decides to organize a second national expedition to Karakorum, after the one on K2. The initial goal is Gasherbrum I (8068m, also known as Hidden Peak, still virgin), but the difficulty of obtaining the permits, then given to the American expedition led by Clinch which will reach the summit on 5th July, leads to a revision of the objectives according to a new approach towards a technically very difficult but terribly fascinating mountain, Gasherbrum IV, 7925m high and known as the “shining wall” thanks to its huge west face that shines and dazzles when hit by the sun.

Unlike the expedition to K2, the one to Gasherbrum IV is not based on strict rules and a strong hierarchical dependence on the expedition leader, but on the mutual esteem and trust of the group of mountaineers. It includes Riccardo Cassin (expedition leader), Walter Bonatti, Carlo Mauri, Giuseppe De Francesch, Giuseppe Oberto, Donato Zeni (doctor), Fosco Maraini (orientalist, cameraman and photographer) and Toni who is appointed deputy expedition leader.

The group leaves on 30th April, 1958 from Genoa on the ship "Victoria". Morale is very high, in fact Toni writes in one of the first letters to Romilda "your husband is quite crazy, but this time he is happy to be so: so rest assured that the world is ours."
In Suez the ship stops for a couple of days and the group of mountaineers take advantage of it for a visit to Cairo and the pyramids. The ship arrives in Karachi on 12th May, and Toni uses the two weeks of sailing to study English and learn how to swim in the onboard pool. He writes in a letter dated 8th May “just today, with the last swims, I can say I know how to swim pretty well. Everyone compliments me because they tell me that very rare are those who at my age can learn and add that in any case they have never seen anyone, including children, learn in 5 days ".

From Karachi to Rawalpindi, then they fly to Skardu and then up to Askole (3050m), the last village before the mountains, where they arrive on 4th June. There they organize the transport to the base camp, hiring almost 500 porters, in the midst of a thousand logistical and operational difficulties. On 15th June, from the Concordia circus (point of confluence of the glaciers in the area), Toni writes: "Now we have entered the heart of our mountains, and their vision helps us to find the strength to reach the longed-for day when, after firing all the porters, we will find ourselves face to face with the summit for which we have come here. Tonight we slept right at the foot of the Baltoro side of the Gasherbrum [...] in front of us is K2, Broad Peak, the Muztagh Tower, a whole crown of famous peaks that I no longer hoped to see. "

The group arrives at Base Camp, and there the climbers begin to work on the mountain. On 22nd June they set up Camp I at 5600m, then on 25th June they set up Camp II at 6100m. Toni from Camp II writes, on 2nd July: "Just know that I am in great shape and that with Bonatti and Oberto I set up, chose the place, made the itinerary of the Base Camp (5150m) and of Camp I (5650m), II (6150m) and III (6450m). Then with Bonatti I almost completely climbed the serac that leads to the East Col, reaching almost 7000m and solving one of the most important problems of the climb. [...] In short, until now I have been the point man, together with Walter with whom the agreement is perfect and with whom I share tent, hopes, thoughts and efforts. "

On 6th July they set up Camp IV (6900m) and on 9th July it is the turn of Camp V at 7200m. On 10th July and 14th July Bonatti and Mauri are engaged in the first two summit attempts, without success, then bad weather arrives and they all have to fall back to Base Camp.

On July 22, Toni writes from Base Camp: "Morally I am in the most perfect balance. I know that the team that will have to reach the summit is that of Walter and Mauri and I am fully and intimately convinced that it is right for them to have this satisfaction; In the first 15 days of the expedition, I cherished the possibility of being the one to share the joy of conquest with Walter, but having recovered Mauri, I understood with tranquility and a sense of reality that if mine could be a possibility (at 44 and you must not force) his was a beautiful and good reality and I retired I would say without burning regret, but with … reasoned regret. I have to keep in mind "the margin" and I kept it in mind, especially physically. " Bonatti and Mauri were born in 1930, so they are both 16 years younger than Toni.
On 24th July, a second assault on the mountain starts. On 25th July Toni writes: “Before starting the new attack, because it has already started yesterday morning, according to an organizational plan prepared by me and accepted by all without any discussion, indeed with very full approval. […] Everyone will think that Bonatti and Mauri, as they will be supported by all of us in the various camps and ready to help them and push them up, will succeed. I personally wish it with all my heart for a thousand and a thousand reasons: if only because I gave up the ambition to get up there myself, in order to see the plan I prepared and that, at the table at least, does not seem to make a wrinkle. On the other hand, we are all now ... in the second stage of implementation of the expeditions: finish it off as long as 2 reach the top, whoever they are. "

On 3rd August Bonatti and Mauri, helped by Toni and De Francesch, set up a sixth camp at 7550m. Toni and De Francesch descend, while Bonatti and Mauri unsuccessfully attempt the summit on 4th August and then again on 6th August: at 12:30pm they are at the top, where the Italian and Pakistani flags fly. The summit is a success for the whole team and the result of joint work. In Toni's 13th August letter we read: “I do not hide from you that I am intimately proud of myself, that I have the unconditional gratitude and recognition of Walter and Mauri for what has been done for them, and the clear admiration of all the others. " Then on 17th August: “Thank God we (and I can well say“ we ”) reached the top, by now we were almost desperate and we seemed to be under a nightmare that became intolerable every day”.

On 13th August the group leaves from Base Camp, and arrives to Italy on 3rd September (this time by plane), more than 4 months after departure. The expedition to Gasherbrum 4 is a great prestigious success for Italy. Suffice it to say that the 1958 route has not yet been repeated, and to date the summit of the mountain has only been reached three more times: in 1986, in 1997, and in 1999.
This expedition will be Toni's last great mountaineering success, who in the following years will focus mainly on the work of the guide and the shop.
Thanks to his exploits and his relationships with colleagues, Toni joins the main world mountaineering groups of his time.
Since 1948 he is been a member of the French GHM (Groupe Haute Montagne), the fourth Italian after Emilio Comici, Agostino Cicogna and Giusto Gervasutti. The GHM was founded in 1919 with the aim of bringing together the elite of mountaineers who carry out important routes on the great walls in the world and in general to support high-level French and international mountaineering.
Since 1965 he is also been a member of the English Alpine Club, which, founded in 1857, was the first mountaineering club in the world. It has brought together the leading British mountaineers for each generation and now has members in more than 30 countries. He has published the Alpine Journal since 1863, which is the oldest mountaineering magazine in the world. Initially open only to mountaineers, only in 1965 was the regulation changed to allow access also to mountain guides. The first guide admitted is Gaston Rebuffat, and 6 months later Toni is the second one, thanks to the introductory letter of 19th September 1965, written by his friend Anthony Rawlinson (1926-1986), passionate mountaineer, member of the Alpine Club (of which will be president in 1986) and senior British government official in the ministry of treasury, industry, the International Monetary Fund and the British embassy in the US.
“It gives me great pleasure to propose Dott. Toni Gobbi for membership of this Alpine Club. […]. He became a porter in 1943, and a guide of Courmayeur in 1946. During the next fifteen years he was one of the most active and enterprising of the Courmayeur guides, specializing in such routes as the South Ridge of the Aiguille Noire, Grandes Jorasses Hirondelles Ridge, and the Innominata and Route Major and Peuterey Ridge of Mont Blanc. […] He is also proprietor of a shop in Courmayeur. Not only is this an admirable equipment shop, but his unfailing willingness to advise and help guideless climbers of all nationalities has made it a ground meeting place and club room. Many of us owe much to his help. […] He is one of the most valued friends I have made through climbing. On the ground I regard him as entirely suitable for membership of this club and I am particularly glad that the changes in the rules about guides makes it possible to propose him.
His keenness to join the Club springs, I know, from a general regard for the Club and all that it has stood for. […].”

In the 1950s and 1960s, Toni becomes a friend and regularly meets the greatest mountaineers of his time, from Gaston Rebuffat to Lionel Terray, from Cesare Maestri to Kurt Diemberger and Riccardo Cassin. “I remember the frequent dinners with great climbers. Above all Terray was very nice, Rebuffat too but less! " remembers his daughter Maria Barbara.

In the end, why do we go to the mountains? My grandfather gave the most complete answer in an interview released a few months before his death: “Every man has his own answer. As in love or friendship, each of us brings to the mountain what he has, he asks for what he lacks. In my memories as a mountaineer I could divide my companions into three or four major categories: there is the one who finds in the risk of the roped party the surrogate for the exploits of war (a type, fortunately, quite rare); then there are those who need to measure themselves against an obstacle, to see to what extent they are able to overcome external difficulties and fear in themselves; finally there is the mountaineer who in the mountains chases a mirage, escape, silence, purity and sincerity of relationships, the joy of physical effort, and that kind of exhilarating charge, of subtle drug that has the air at four thousand meters. Personally, I loved and looked for the mountains for all these reasons, and one more: the fear of growing old, of witnessing the decay of my body, as one sees the immaculate slope wasting away when the tourist hordes arrive. The mountain helps me stop my youth. "


 Photos: Grivel archive.

Oliviero Gobbi


Oliviero Gobbi. After a degree in physics and a master's in management, he worked for a few years as a strategic consultant in large multinationals before joining Grivel, his family business, of which he is now the owner and CEO. He loves all mountain activities, from mountaineering to ice climbing, from rock climbing to ski mountaineering, which he practices when he can. His favorite Grivel product is the one yet to be invented.


Go to Part 3 - The mountain guide: evolution of a profession.

Go to Part 4 - The death.

Back to The story of Toni Gobbi: from citizen to mountain guide.

Back to Part 1 - The man: from the city to the mountains.