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50 Years of Alpinism

By Riccardo Cassin

Diadem Books Ltd., London and The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1982. 207 pages, black and white photographs, diagrams, maps

50 Years of Alpinism, Riccardo Cassin“Riccardo Cassin has written a masterpiece of an autobiography—possibly the most important mountaineering book to be published in the last twenty-five years! It's all here—a scintillating record of a half century of high-standard Alpine endeavor: his first climbs in the Grigna, the Dolomites, the north face of the Cima Ovest, the north face of the Piz Badile, the Walker Spur of the Grandes Jorasses, the Cassin Ridge of McKinley, Jirishanca, Gasherbrum IV and Lhotse. Perhaps the world's best climbs done by one its best climbers. What more could one ask for?”
Roy Kligfield, “American Alpine Journal” 1983, p. 322-323

“The author is a very famous mountaineer who has been active over a long period. His outstanding first ascents include Cima Ovest di Lavaredo, N face, the Piz Badile, NE face and the Walker Spur of the Grandes Jorasses. This story of his climbing life will be a source of inspiration to present-day enthusiasts who may aim to match or emulate him.
The translation, which reads remarkably freely, has been done with great competence and there are 90 pictures of the author, his friends and his climbs. Why then did I find it dull reading? Maybe because we have already had too much of this sort of thing. In particular in a multi-member expedition the exact details of who went where on the mountain, important perhaps in a study of expedition logistics, quickly defeat the ordinary reader, who through the medium of the writing seeks personal transposition on to the mountainside. Here we have no more than words on a page”.
Peter Hillman, „Alpine Journal” 1982, p. 251

“Riccardo Cassin is one of Europe's great survivors despite active climbing well beyond his seventieth year. The doyen of Italian alpinism before and after the World War, he continued to make further ascents of considerable difficulty throughout his life. Cassin's is a matter of fact text, reflecting a simple and honest pleasure in his achievements and in the feats which he helped to inspire in others. In his fifty year retrospect there are few spectres — instead he repeats the North East Face of the Piz Badile with a grow-up son, relishes his ability to organise the expedition on Gasherbrum 4 after what he regards as an unfair exclusion from the successful K2 Expedition, saves Jack Canali from falling to his death in the descent from the Cassin Ridge of Mount McKinley, using only an ice axe belay, and goes on to lead the ambitious but eventually unsuccessful attempt upon the South Face of Lhotse. Nor is the afterthought from a rather wise old man amiss as young and brilliant mountaineers push themselves into more and more ambitious experiences — always there is a sense in which Cassin seems to see his achievements as something more than a mere expression of his individuality.  ... my long experience in the mountains now enables me to evaluate both sad and happy events in a rather calmer manner."
Martin Berzins, “Mountain” 1983, March/April, No. 90 , p. 50


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