Riccardo Cassin


Riccardo Cassin (2 January 19096 August 2009) was an
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

mountaineer Mountaineering, or alpinism, is the set of outdoor activities Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do something for recreation" is an ...

, developer of
mountaineering equipment A wide range of equipmentEquipment most commonly refers to a set of tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use simple tools, only human being ...
and author.


Born into a peasant family at
San Vito al Tagliamento San Vito al Tagliamento ( fur, San Vît dal Tiliment) is a ''comune'' (municipality) in the Province of Pordenone in the Italy, Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located about northwest of Trieste and about southeast of Pordenone. Main sights ...
Friuli Friuli ( fur, Friûl) is an area of with its own particular cultural and historical identity containing 1,000,000 . It comprises the major part of the autonomous region , i.e. the administrative of , , and , excluding . Names The multiethnic ...
, when this region was still part of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exer ...
, Cassin had humble origins. When he was three his father, Valentino, emigrated to Canada where he died in a mining accident in 1913 when aged 29. Cassin left school at the age of 12 to work for a blacksmith. In 1926, when 17, he moved to Lecco where he found employment at a steel plant. His first love was boxing, but he soon became fascinated by the mountains that tower over
Lake Como Lake Como ( it, Lago di Como , ; lmo, label=Western Lombard, Lagh de Còmm , ''Cómm'' or ''Cùmm'' ), also known as Lario (; after the la, Larius Lacus), is a Glacial lake, lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy. It has an area of , making ...

Lake Como
Lake Garda Lake Garda ( it, Lago di Garda or ; lmo, label=Eastern Lombard Eastern Lombard is a group of closely related dialects of Lombard language, Lombard, a Gallo-Italic languages, Gallo-Italic language spoken in Lombardy, mainly in the provinces ...

Lake Garda
.Riccardo Cassin
''The Telegraph''. 10 August 2009.
In 1940 he married Irma, with whom he had three sons – Valentino, Pierantonio and Guido.


Cassin started mountaineering in around 1930 together with a group known as the ''Ragni di Lecco'' (spiders of Lecco).Cassin interview
. Climbing.com. Retrieved on 20 July 2015.
In 1934, he made the first ascent of the Piccolissima of the
Tre Cime di Lavaredo The Tre Cime di Lavaredo (; ), also called the Drei Zinnen (; ), are three distinctive battlement-like peaks, in the Sexten Dolomites of northeastern Italy. They are probably one of the best-known mountain groups in the Alps. The three peaks, fro ...

Tre Cime di Lavaredo
. In 1935, after having repeated
Emilio Comici Leonardo Emilio Comici (Trieste, 21 February 1901 – Sëlva in Val Gardena, 19 October 1940) was an Italian people, Italian mountain climber and caver. He made numerous ascents in the Eastern Alps, particularly in the Dolomites (where he made over ...
's route on the north-west face of the Civetta, he climbed the south-eastern ridge of the Trieste Tower and, with Vittorio Ratti, established a new route on the north face of Cima Ovest di Lavaredo. In 1937, Cassin made his first climb on the granite of the Western Alps. Over the course of three days, 14–16 July, he made the first ascent of the north-east face of Piz Badile in the Bregaglia Range, Val Bregaglia (Bergell), Switzerland, accompanied by Ratti and Gino Esposito after they teamed up with M. Molteni and G. Valsecchi, the latter two of whom died of exhaustion and exposure on the descent. This route is known today as the Cassin Route or the ''Via Cassin''. He confirmed his extraordinary mountaineering skills 50 years later by climbing this route again at the age of 78. Perhaps his most celebrated first ascent was of the Walker Spur on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses in the Mont Blanc Massif, Mont Blanc massif on 4–6 August 1938 with Esposito and Ugo Tizzoni. The alpine historian Helmut Dumler comments that this was "by then universally acknowledged as the finest alpine challenge." According to Claire Engel: In 1939, together with Tizzoni, Cassin made the first ascent of a steep line on the north face of the Aiguille de Leschaux. Cassin was one of the leading mountaineers of the inter-war period. In all, Cassin made a total of 2,500 ascents, of which over 100 were first ascents.Cassin 100th birthday celebrations
Notizie.alice.it. Retrieved on 20 July 2015.

World War II

During World War II Cassin fought on the side of the Italian resistance movement, partisans against the Nazi Germany, German occupiers. On 26 April 1945, when he was chief partisan, both he and Ratti (who had accompanied him on several first ascents) attempted to stop a group of German soldiers from escaping to the Valtellina and St Moritz, and Ratti was shot dead. Cassin was decorated for his actions in the partisan campaign during the years 1943–45.

Expedition leader

Cassin was supposed to have been on the 1954 Italian Karakoram expedition to K2, Italian expedition that made the first ascent of K2 in the Karakoram in 1954, but Ardito Desio, the chief expedition leader for the Italian Alpine Club, preferred not to have Cassin participate. According to Cassin himself: Following this experience, Cassin concentrated on organizing and leading expeditions himself, including the first ascent of Gasherbrum IV in the Karakorum Range by Walter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri on 6 August 1958 and an expedition that climbed Jirishanca in the Andes in 1969. In 1961, Cassin was both leader of and a successful ascentionist on the expedition that made the first ascent of the eponymous ''Cassin Ridge'' on Mount McKinley in Alaska, at that date the most technical route on the mountain. After this ascent, John F. Kennedy, President Kennedy sent Cassin a telegram of congratulations and, had the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Bay of Pigs crisis not intervened, he was scheduled to meet Cassin. In 1975, Cassin led an expedition to the then-unclimbed south face of Lhotse in the Himalaya, but this attempt was unsuccessful as a result of bad weather.

Mountaineering equipment

Cassin began designing and producing mountaineering equipment in Lecco in 1947 when he produced his first rock pitons. In 1948 he produced his first hammers; his first ice axes appeared in 1949; and 1950 saw the introduction of his carabiners. That same year he produced the "first eiderdown duvet jackets for non-European mountaineering expeditions",The story of the Cassin company
these going into production two years later. In 1958 he and his son produced their first Climbing harness, harness prototype; this went into production two years later, the same year that he introduced titanium crampons. In 1967 the company became a Limited Company and in the early 1980s it moved from Lecco to Valmadrera. In 1997 the CAMP (company), CAMP company bought the Cassin trademark.

100th birthday celebrations

Cassin's 100th birthday fell on 2 January 2009. A retrospective book, entitled ''Riccardo Cassin: Cento volti di un grande alpinista'' ("Riccardo Cassin: One Hundred Faces of a Great Alpinist"), was produced to mark the occasion, containing one hundred testimonials from people associated with Cassin, including Edouard Frendo, Georges Livanos, John F. Kennedy, Reinhold Messner, Carlo Mauri, Walter Bonatti, Gianni Brera and Candido Cannavò. Cassin died in Piano dei Resinelli, Lecco, on 6 August 2009, aged 100.


*Italian orders of merit, Cavaliere di Gran Croce Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana (Rome, 9 February 1999) *Italian orders of merit, Grand'Ufficiale dell'Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana (5 January 1980)Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana award to Cassin on the initiative of the President of the Council


*Riccardo Cassin, ''Alpi occidentali: Bianco, Cervino, Rosa'', Grafica e Arte Bergamo, 1990, *Riccardo Cassin, ''Fifty Years of Alpinism'', Diadem, 1980, *Alessandro Gogna, Laura Melesi and Daniele Redaelli, ''Riccardo Cassin: Cento volti di un grande alpinista'', Bellavite Editore, 2008,


External links

*[https://web.archive.org/web/20081226210814/http://www.climbing.com/community/perspective/riccardo_cassin-the_full_interview/ Interview with Cassin at climbing.com]
Photos of the Cassin Ridge (Mount McKinley)
– Daily Telegraph obituary
by the Associated Press
Riccardo Cassin: Mountaineer whose exploits across five decades gave him legendary status
''The Independent'' Obituary {{DEFAULTSORT:Cassin, Riccardo 1909 births 2009 deaths People from the Province of Pordenone Men centenarians Italian centenarians Italian mountain climbers