The Italian mountaineer Lino Lacedelli, who was the first to climb K2 in 1954, has passed away of unspecified causes after a heart operation at the age of 83. UPI reported that Lacedelli’s family said the pioneering Himalaya adventurer struggled to recover from surgery earlier in the year.
His death comes six months after the death of Achille Compagnoni, the man who joined him at the top of K2, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Neither Lacedelli or Compagnoni, (who died May 13 at the age of 94), ever admitted which of them officially reached the peak of K2 first. Italian climbing icon Reinhold Messner said Lacedelli was a noted mountaineer who helped Italy recover from World War II. “Lino Lacedelli will go down in history not only as the conqueror of K2 with Achille Compagnoni but also as one of the greatest climbers (ever),” Messner said of the mountaineer.
”Lacedelli contributed to the psychological reconstruction of Italians after the Second World War,” he added. For his feat of overcoming K2, Lacedelli was named a Knight of the Grand Cross in 2005 and received the Gold Medal for Civic Valor in 1954. In 2004, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, Mr Compagnoni returned to Pakistan. “It was a great experience,” he said. “We left Italy with a dream of conquering K2 and had lots of enthusiasm combined with a sense of foreboding over the dangers we might face.
“We knew it would not be easy, yet we were determined to see the challenge through to the bitter end.
“We stayed 70 days at base camp and of those at least 40 days were in bad weather.
“Although it was very hard not to lose hope at times, such was the high morale in our team we never stopped believing that eventually we would do it. Collaboration and teamwork were the keys to our success.”
Image: Lino Lacedelli (bearded) and Achille Compagnoni