Riccardo Cassin (1909-2009)
Icon of Italian mountaineering
Riccardo Cassin was born in the province of Pordenone on 2 January 1909. He lived the years of his childhood with his mother and sister in his grandfather’s house and at the age of 17 he moved to Lecco where he began to practice boxing. Soon he abandons this practice to devote himself to mountaineering which will become his true, great passion.
The list of his first ascents has no equal, having solved, thanks to his tenacity and decision, the major mountaineering problems of the time, both in the Dolomites and in the Western Alps. In 1934 he made the first ascent of the Piccolissima delle Cime di Lavaredo. In 1935, after repeating the large via di Emilio Comici on the northwest wall of the Civetta, he climbed the fantastic south-east corner of the Trieste tower and, with Vittorio Ratti, opened a path of extreme boldness on the north face of Cima Ovest di Lavaredo , an ambitious undertaking after the Cortinesi Angelo and Giuseppe Dimai and the Emilio Comici from Trieste had climbed the North of the Great in 1933.
In 1937 Cassin shifts its attention to the granite of the Central Alps. In three days, marred by bad weather, he makes the first ascent of the huge north-east wall of Pizzo Badile. The C.O.N.I. in 1938 he awarded Cassin the gold medal for athletic value.
Probably his most important undertaking, and a milestone in mountaineering, takes place between 4 and 6 August 1938 in the Mont Blanc massif. With Tizzoni and Esposito, he makes the first ascent of the Walker spur on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses.
The post-war period saw Cassin engaged primarily as an organizer and expedition leader. In 1987, at age 78, Cassin repeated the ascent to Pizzo Badile half a century earlier, a feat that had consecrated him among the strongest mountaineers of the twentieth century. He died on 6 August 2009 at his home in the Pian dei Resinelli.