Today marks three important episodes in the life of the great climber Riccardo Cassin.
Firstly, on August 6, 1938, Cassin and two others did the first ascent of the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses in the French Alps. The north face is one of the three great north faces of the Alps, along with the north faces of the Eiger and the Matterhorn, collectively known as ‘The Trilogy’. One of the most famous and classic walls in the world, The intimidating Walker Spur rises up more than a kilometer from the Leschaux Glacier. With the north face of The Eiger having just been successfully climbed a month earlier, the Walker Spur was now universally known as the greatest alpine challenge of the era when Cassin and his partners climbed it. The Italians knew nothing of the Chamonix region, had never been there before, and had nonchalantly walked in and bagged the last remaining great unclimbed north face of Europe.
Secondly, the summit of Gasherbrum IV (26,001 ft.) was first reached on this date in 1958 by members of an expedition led by Cassin.
Thirdly, the final important episode in his life was his death, on this date in 2009 at 100 years of age. I photographed him at his home high in the Italian Alps seven days before that.
Photo © Jim Herrington
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