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The Great Days

by Walter Bonatti

"The Great Days is an account, a running history, not an insightful reflection, into the experience of climbing. (…) It's not a great book, but we read on because it is an entirely convincing chronicle of one man's love, strength and courage. We may wish Bonatti perceived more deeply, but there is no question that he believes and feels deeply."
Tom Higgins, "Ascent" 1975-1976, p. 113-114

"Bonatti reveals an abrasive, even embittered side to his character in this admirable second instalment of his memoirs. In On the Heights, he left us with the description of the terrible description of the terrible retreat from the Freney Pillar. As if to underline the impact of the catastrophe, Bonatti retells the story to open this book. There is a sense of self-doubt in this more detailed account. (…) As the nightmare on the mountain ends, a new one begins. The Italian press and television devour the event and Bonatti is criticized. The final indignity comes when the Pillar is snatched from him by others. Both Mazeaud and Bonatti have now revealed their intense bitterness about this, but though one can sympathize with their feelings, one can hardly condone them. (…) The book goes on to recount the tales of important climbs (…) but with each ascent one senses Bonatti's growing disillusionment with the Alpine world he dominates. Rarely does the "state of grace" or 'spiritual liberation' he gets from big climb last long enough to mellow his bitterness. (…) When, one wonders, will the first mountaineering superstar succumb to an overdose? Bonatti's discomfort with fame hardly inspires confidence."
Ken Wilson, "Mountain" 1974, November, No. 40, p. 38

"Bonatti is an Italian cultural monument of the stature of some of his mountaineering feats. As a personal memoir Great Days fails. Bonatti prefers to stay in the shadows and rarely comes stage front. Other than a passing word, we are left only to speculate about his personal relationship with other climbers, just as we are left guessing about his private life. (…)
Bonatti inescapably left his profound imprint on mountaineering and his feet are altogether genuine. But in this melancholy judgment of their meaning and in the almost mock-heroic gesture of his retirement, he is clumsily groping for a self he has already sold to a servitude, not merely as a superb climber, but rather as a deity."
Dennis G. Hanson, "American Alpine Journal" 1976, No. 50, p. 569-570

See also
Anderl Heckmair: My Life
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