The Mountains of My Life by Walter Bonatti regularly makes it on to top-ten lists of mountaineering books. A collection of the Italian climber's classic writings on everything from his epic 1955 solo route on the Petit Dru in the French Alps to controversy on the slopes of K2, the year before. Penguin have just republished a translation of the book and the sprightly 80-year-old recently spoke to the Guardian about his life.
Bonatti is one of the 20th century's greatest alpinists so, as I've been asked on a number of occasions, why he didn't make it into the Guardian Book of Mountains? The simple answer is that his exploits just weren't reported in the paper. The vagaries of the newspaper business can mean that sometimes mountain triumphs end up being relegated to little more than a small paragraph.
However, with the Guardian piece reminding me of Bonatti's many triumphs, I double-checked the Guardian's archive to see if I'd missed something. When I compiled the book, the paper hadn't been digitised so the only way to search was by way of the old card index and then trying to find the piece on microfilm. This method certainly threw up some interesting material but inevitably a number events just didn't get noted.
After scouring the digital archive, apart from a few news in briefs, I still didn't come up with much. The following item though, which did make it to the front page on August 30 1961, does capture the essence of the man: