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silenzi che parlano

by Chiara Gusmeroli

A young mountaineer from Valtellina, Chiara Gusmeroli has learnt to experience the mountains instinctively. The granite of the Masino-Bregaglia group is her second home and her boundless love for the Swiss mountains has introduced her to mountaineering in all its forms.

Chiara is a complete mountaineer: her propensity for endurance and fatigue, complemented by a good technical level, allow her to move on any mountain and in any condition. With skis on her feet, ice axes in her hand or simply with her shoes and magnesite on her fingertips. Every free moment from work is obviously dedicated to her passion.

In January 2024, Chiara embarked on a journey to the granite towers typical of Patagonia, the dream of every mountaineer. She then completed the ascent of Fitz Roy along the Afanasieff route, climbing in two days the 1,600 metres of the western edge: a symbolic route opened by Jean and Michel Afanassieff and companions in 1979. Even today, a tough test of intuition, endurance and difficulty.

In this 'behind the scenes' of the ascent, the Lombardy mountaineer recounts aspects that often remain unspoken, from life in the village to the sensations experienced first-hand during the days of the attempt, with the constant but invisible presence of silence.


Silence had fallen where, in the mornings and days before, there was hubbub, laughter, rattling of scrap metal.
Within a few hours everything had fallen silent, emptied out. No colourful sleeping bags tipped in the wind over fences, no dusty boots on the steps, no open doors. The rucksacks had been filled, the roped parties compacted and everyone had gone their own way, taking with them the mixture of enthusiasm and tension that had been permeating the air for days at El Chalten.

At Lo De Trivi (the hostel in El Chalten) I stayed, watching the grey sky as I reread the manic list I had drawn up: personal material, in common, already in my rucksack, to be put in the rucksack of Matteo De Zaiacomo, my travelling companion.

Giga', as his friends call him, and I would only leave the following day, not by choice but by necessity: his flight would land in the afternoon and he would arrive in El Chalten by 6pm.
That left a handful of hours of peace and quiet, a couple of setup decisions to be made and the arms around his neck, to be throw to friends still in the village.



The material deposited on the ground on the compacted snow no longer makes a sound, the wind does not blow and the only living beings there are us, silent.

The light-hearted enthusiasm with which we exulted earlier on the summit has faded. And I, still incredulous, enjoy the 360-degree view that the summit of Fitz Roy offers.

A gift that fills and empties at the same time, stops the moment, chains you there: standing on a rock, while the last rays of sun warm your face and dye the granite yellow, orange and then gold, and the sky red, pink and violet.

It is 9.22pm. Two intense days have passed since we left the country: eyes and hands are both witnesses and victims.
eyes and hands are at the same time witnesses and victims; but the head says that it is not yet time to release the tension, the following day awaits us the descent from the opposite side of the climb awaits us, with uncertain weather conditions.

Eating, drinking and resting as much as possible become the main objective.



I am sitting on the grassy bank, looking out over the Rio De Las Vueltas, sheltered from the wind that in the streets of El Chalten blows the sand fiercely in the faces of passers-by. Thoughts run as fast as the river that keeps me company.

Five days have now passed, but the memories remain vivid, the images firmly imprinted in the mind: moments, sentences, music, everything resonates. Fragments of a fascinating and decomposed puzzle, details that I struggle to rework, moments
eternal moments of days:

Like when we emerged at the Paso del Cuadrado and for the first time I saw the Afanasieff in its entirety,
the immense ridge that took us to the summit of Fitz Roy, and Cerro Torre.

Like when, under the Supercanaleta, I was so stunned that while Matteo was ready with crampons at his feet I was there, standing still, looking up in disbelief.

Like the lengths of the first day, climbed with the eagerness to get my hands on the rock after the eight hours of approach. Lengths almost run, with the uncertainty of "who knows what time we will arrive at the bivouac pitch", which friends had recommended for the first night.

And then again the dawn of the second day, Cerro Piergiorgio behind us in pastel colours, hot tea and warm hands over the jetboil that we began to regret shortly afterwards, when the cracked slabs full of ice did not give us exactly the good morning we had hoped for.

The changes in buoyancy, from booties to boots and crampons, and the heavy backpack on our shoulders that made our movements awkward and precarious balances; the force of gravity that, unexpectedly, also works on the other side of the world.

The immense silences between contemplation, inertia of movement, gratitude and exhaustion that enveloped the last
lengths, encrusted with snow mushrooms worked by the wind.

And then the sunset, the night and the dawn on the summit, the endless descent: the rappels first along the Franco Argentina route and then from the Breccia degli Italiani, the glacier in the scorching sun and the return soaked in sun cream and soaked boots.



A silence to break to thank those who were part of and allowed me to do this.
To Fitz Roy, to Patagonia, to Matteo.

To the companions of this journey, to the beautiful people I have met, people who have helped me, advised me, taught me something, waited for me, people with whom I shared coffee, water from the streams, beer and tinto wine.

To those who, despite having stayed at home, I have always felt closer than ever.

To lifelong friends who, over the years, have taught me how to go to the mountains, how to stay in the mountains; in the delicate and continuous search for balance, between the edges to be smoothed and those to be climbed.

Finally, a thank you to the wind which, despite its blowing, has not managed to take anything away from me: I have everything here, printed on me.



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