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Matteo Bernasconi (better known as “Berna”) and I had separate lives, different interests, and sometimes contrasting ways of doing things, but on the wall we were like brothers: he doted on me and would have followed me to the ends of the earth, and I felt safer with him than with anyone else and knew I could put my life in his hands at any time. After the west face of Torre Egger and after Cerro Murallon, we had identified and visualized a new itinerary, a route that would have represented the culmination of our journey as friends, as mountaineers, and as climbing partners.

We dreamed of an alpine-style line, a very precise line along the 1,300 meters of the most famous rock monolith in Patagonia and the entire world: Cerro Torre. The most beautiful, elegant, and difficult mountain I know, soaring toward the stars like a petrified scream.

But that dream couldn’t be ours alone. We soon realized that, given the magnitude of the goal, we could only transform this dream into an actual adventure by expanding the team to include a young mountaineer who had an immense desire to learn and test himself and a new vision that was different from ours. We found all this in Matteo Pasquetto, the ideal companion to share the project with. Thus, in January 2019, the time came to leave for the southern hemisphere.

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As luck would have it, Berna fractured his knee a few days before our departure and was forced to stay home. At that moment we had to decide. We were aware that a goal as challenging as establishing a new alpine-style route on the east face of Cerro Torre could take several years of attempts. But Matteo Pasquetto and I decided to try anyway. When we arrived at the foot of the east face of the massif, I felt crushed by the grandeur like never before: on the one hand, a sense of smallness in front of that enormous mountain of rock and ice, and on the other, the fire burning inside at the idea of getting my hands on this great dream.

Matteo and I made a fine attempt, climbing about 800 meters of the wall, to more than halfway up the obvious dihedral that cuts through the right edge of the east face. In the end we were unable to finish the route, but our surrender included many learnings and hopes for the future. In addition, watching Matteo climb, I felt a bit of healthy envy: 10 years younger, and with the enthusiasm, impetuosity, and stubbornness of a 20-year-old but the technical and mental level of a 30-year-old. I had no doubts: he would have been our ace in the hole to help us raise our game.

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The climbing team of the three Matteos (Bernasconi, Della Bordella, Pasquetto) reconvened for a new attempt in the 2019/2020 season. But, as we all know, for big goals, all the stars must align at the same time: physical fitness, understanding within the team, no last-minute unforeseen events, stable weather, the conditions on the mountain. Here, we lacked that last fundamental piece. That season, Cerro Torre said no. It was covered in a thick layer of ice for the entire final 400 meters. Attempting it would have been extremely dangerous, and as the great Denis Urubko said, “I’m crazy, not stupid!”

We were thus forced to change plans and instead established, still in alpine style, an elegant route on the north edge of Aguja Standhardt — 800 meters of new route, along overhangs, slabs, and a right-angled dihedral with perfect geometry, which we baptized “Il dado è tratto” (“The die is cast”). It was a beautiful climb because we were able to give shape to an intuition conceived in our minds and conveyed to the rock; it was a climb that took on even greater meaning a few months later, because it was the last big adventure we would experience together.

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2020 was a difficult year for everyone, and in addition to the great disruptions that affected all of us, a few months apart, and in circumstances as different as they are inexplicable, first Matteo Bernasconi and then Matteo Pasquetto lost their lives.

Today our team no longer exists, and recovering from such a blow is a difficult journey. But I prefer to think about what has been given to me rather than what has been taken away. The moments experienced, the shared emotions, the dreams aspired to together with these two friends are among the most beautiful gifts that life has given me.

And so here I am, ready to leave for the southern hemisphere again, carrying a dream, greater awareness, and the desire to try our line on Cerro Torre again. Climbing mountains is what I’ve decided to do in my life, and dreams are more beautiful when they come true.

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This year’s expedition was strengthened by a further motivation. The desire to take my friends with me to the mountains they loved so much, and thus make this dream come true, was too strong.

With me were my Ragni di Lecco friends David Bacci — already a companion on many beautiful climbs in Patagonia — and Matteo “Giga” De Zaiacomo, a trusted partner on many expeditions but in his first experience on these mythical granite spires.

This year the right opportunity to climb our route on Cerro Torre presented itself, and we were not caught unprepared. In three intense days of climbing, we managed to realize the line of our dreams. On January 25 we attacked the face, climbing the first 500 meters to the so-called English box. After bivouacking in our portaledge, the next day we climbed the obvious overhanging dihedral, where the 1981 attempt by the British climbers Burke and Proctor runs. These extremely physical and difficult pitches put us to the test and pushed us to our limits and perhaps even a little further! On the third day on the wall, we exited the dihedral and were lucky enough to meet Tomy Aguilo and Korra Pesce, who were working on their new route. We followed them to the top of Cerro Torre, which we reached around 6 p.m. on January 27. Once at the summit, I felt like crying, thinking about the two Matteos. In a sense it was as if they were there with us.

A huge thank-you for this climb goes to my two companions, David and Giga, who were exceptional throughout this long journey.

Unfortunately, our adventure had a bitter ending, due to the discharge of ice that struck our friends Tomy and Korra, who had descended on the opposite side from us. The next day we did everything we could to help them; we managed to reach and rescue Tomy, but we couldn’t reach Korra Pesce.

So we decided to call our new route “Brothers in arms,” dedicating it to Matteo Bernasconi, Matteo Pasquetto, and Korra Pesce, and to all our brothers who have lost their lives in the mountains we love so much.

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