Campanile di Val Montanaia, the breathtaking pinnacle in the Dolomites, stands a solitary 200 metres high, the only one of its kind in the whole Alpine region. Lying in a small valley and guarded jealously by Spalti di Toro and Monfalconi as if it were a priceless jewel, it is the undisputed symbol of the Oltrepiave Dolomites. Read the story of its first ascent.
The first ascent, a legend of generosity and cunning
Campanile di Val Montanaia, the breathtaking pinnacle in the Dolomites, stands a solitary 200 metres high, the only one of its kind in the whole Alpine region. The structure and profile of the peak are without equal and put it head and shoulders above any other conformation in the mountains. Lying in a small valley and guarded jealously by Spalti di Toro and Monfalconi as if it were a priceless jewel, it is the undisputed symbol of the Oltrepiave Dolomites. Climbers are in awe of this amazing feat of geology and flock from all corners of the world to admire it. Expert climbers nearly always attempt the ascent along the central route of the south face. Today one of the classic climbs in the Dolomites, it was scaled for the first time on 17 September 1902 by Austrians Victor Wolf von Glanvell and Karl Günter Freiherr von Saar. In actual fact, the moral victory of this achievement should really go to Napoleone Cozzi and Alberto Zanutti, experienced climbers from Trieste. On 7 September 1902, after two attempts, they came to within sight of the ledge of the final pinnacle but were forced to give up as they were unable to find a way to the top. They built a cairn on the spot they had reached, carved the date of their intrepid endeavour into the rock, then started back down again. A couple of days later, as von Glanvell and von Saar were roaming through the peaks, they noticed the cairn and came up with a plan to climb the Campanile. When they got back to Cimolais, they met up with the two Italians in the “Alla Rosa” inn. Maybe it was their elation, camaraderie or the Fruili wine, but Cozzi e Zanutti naively revealed the secrets of the south face to the Austrians, helping them no end in their climb to the summit. A little while later, when von Glanvell and von Saar reached the stone cairn, they had the bright idea of crossing along a narrow ledge on the western side. Once they had passed a difficult stretch with nothing below them but a great drop, they reached the ledge and made it to the summit without difficulty.
“Audentis resonant per me loca muta triumpho”
These are the words engraved on the votive bell which was placed on the summit on 19 September 1926 by 22 climbers from Veneto. The idea is that these words echo and resound through the valley when the bell is rung by “those who dared”. In 1982 the original bell was damaged by lightning; the Pordenone branch of CAI replaced it with an exact copy, had the original restored and now proudly keep it at their headquarters.
Protecting the territory and UNESCO heritage
The influence of man in this area is minimal and ecologically sustainable. Nature reigns supreme amid majestic scenery. In 1966 the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region set up the “Dolomiti Friulane Natural Regional Park” to conserve the distinctive characteristics of this area, boosting its resources by promoting a naturalistic culture of the mountains. Since 2009 the area has been part of the UNESCO property, a World Heritage Site. The CAI branch of the FVG region is a supporter of the Foundation and works in conjunction with its branches to promote this wilderness which includes the area of the Park whose centre and symbol is Campanile di Val Montanaia.
By: Roberto Bianchini – Editorial staff of Il Notiziario – CAI Pordenone branch
Per la foto di copertina uno scatto di Cri Pell