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Ligabue Magazine n° 76
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K2, an Italian achievement

Text by:
Adriano Favaro,Agostino Da Polenza

Images:
Comitato Everest-K2_Cnr, Agostino Da Polenza, Ralf Dujmovits, Archivi Vari

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Taking a whole nation to the top

“I already had another ship available with supplies and a fresh team of mountaineers. We were lucky at the first go. We could have tried again immediately: at base camp we had food and supplies for another three months.” Professor Ardito Desio (1897-2001), a geologist and explorer had been in no doubt: K2, the second highest mountain in the world at 8,611 metres, was going to be the "Italians’ mountain”. The ascent on 31 July 1954 was an enormously significant event that put Italy
back on the international stage at a time when the country was still on its knees in the wake of the Second World War. But nothing came easy. Firstly, the permit. To obtain one, Italian prime minister Alcide De Gasperi had to intervene. He managed to arrange it with the Pakistani prime minister, who happened to be passing through Rome. Born at Palmanova and a volunteer in the First World War, Ardito Desio was an expert mountaineer and geologist. It was he who found oil while searching for water veins on behalf of the Italian government in the Libyan desert, which he had explored between 1930 and 1936.

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Ligabue Magazine 64

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