K2 pioneer Lino Lacedelli died today
After several failed attempts, K2 was finally summited in 1954 by the Italians, Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni. There has been a debate about the events that took place on that first climb ever since.
The final ascent was made by Lino and Achille and completed without oxygen according to the official story. But Walter Bonatti, then 24 years old, said that he and Hunza porter Mahdi not only left oxygen high up for the two lead climbers on the final summit push but were also forced to camp out in the snow when their two mates wouldn’t let them into their tent.
At the return of the expedition Lino and Achille were celebrated as national heroes while an Italian newspaper later accused Bonatti of stealing oxygen and attempting a solo ascent ahead of Lino and Achille. Bonatti sued for libel and won, and later also published “The Mountains of My Life” where he displayed proof of his innocence, including a photograph of Lino and Achille wearing oxygen masks on the summit. Still, Bonatti was ostracized from the climbing community.
50 years after the 1954 K2 expedition, in a book released in 2006, a very old Lino Lacedelli – who had remained silent all this time – confessed what really happened on K2, and called Bonatti to apologize. “It’s too late,” Bonatti said.
Achille Compagnoni died earlier this year (on May 13) at age 94, taking his final version of events with him to his grave. Today Lino Lacedelli followed Achille for one last time, after making peace if not with Bonatti, then at least with himself.
Born 4 December 1925, Lino Lacedelli died a few weeks shy of 84 years on 20 November 2009.