Claudio Corti (1928 – 3 February 2010) was a mountain climber from Olginate, Italy. He is most famous for his 1957 effort to climb the 1938 route on the north face of the Eiger, during which his party was stranded and a massive rescue operation was organized. Corti was successfully rescued, but his partner, Stefano Longhi, was not.
1957 Eiger attempt and rescue
Corti, who spent over a week on the face, became the centre of a great deal of controversy. He could not produce a coherent story about what happened on the face, and this, coupled with a sensationalistic press campaign and the opinions expressed by Heinrich Harrer in The White Spider, created an atmosphere of deep suspicion around him. However, he was completely cleared when the dead Germans' bodies were found on the opposite side of the mountain.
The rescue operation itself is known as one of the greatest of all time. The operation crossed international boundaries and included many men. The local Swiss guides got a lot of criticism for not responding. However, it was their policy not to respond to parties trapped on the face because they generally thought it foolish to climb the face and that a rescue would risk the lives of the rescuers.
In 2008 Italian writer Giorgio Spreafico released a book on the 1957 Eiger tragedy, Il prigioniero dell'Eiger (The Eiger Prisoner); the book contains a long interview with Claudio Corti, and a detailed historic reconstruction of the events.
The Eiger controversy in some way overshadowed the rest of Corti's mountaineering career. Corti climbed extensively in the Alps, becoming the first person to open two new routes on Piz Badile, and making early repeats of important routes. While not reaching the summit, he had an important role on the successful 1973-74 expedition of the Ragni di Lecco to climb the west face of Cerro Torre, a climb considered by some the first true ascent of the Torre.
- Claudio Corti, goodbye to the alpinist and man, planetmountain.com, accessed 5 February 2010
- (in English) Article "Claudio Corti (1928-2010) : A Life in the Shadow of the Eiger"
- See more details in this extract from this article:Another Side to a Guide's Life[permanent dead link] by Swiss alpine guide Werner Stäger
- (in Italian) Review of Il prigioniero dell'Eiger on montagna.org Archived 2008-12-29 at the Wayback Machine
- Olsen, Jack (1998), The Climb Up to Hell, New York: St. Martin's Press.