François Cazzanelli – Interview
He is mount Cervino’s youngest son. François Cazzanelli, born in Aosta in 1990, alpine guide in Valtournanche. His eyes reflect the fascinating but severe mountain environment just like those of the white wolf painted by Marie ange Maquignaz, artist, painter,living at the feet of the Gran Becca her family’s mountain retrea, named Duca degli Abruzzi. At Orionde’. Just below the Carrel Cross.
Cazzanelli climbed mount Cervino more than 70 times through different paths (amongst which a new one the “Direct to the Shield “ – Diretta allo Scudo” on Pyc Tindall, along the southern side, opened with Francesco Ratti and Emrik Favre) He mastered various chains of peaks and has already been over the great mountains of the world, Patagonia,Antartide, Hymalaya. With Arvier’s guide Marco Camandona he climbed an “eightthousand” the Lothse, in alpine style and without oxygen. With Zermatt’s alpine guide Andreas Steindl he completed the ascension to the Monte bianco through the Integrale of the Peuterey’s crest, the Alp’s most coveted, leaving from Val Veny’s camping La Sorgente up to Monte Bianco’s peak descending through the normal italian path from rifugio Gonella and returning to the Peuterey fields in less than sixteen hours.
How do you interpret the guide’s profession?
“I believe its important to make your client happy and to make him apreciate what he is doing. With all the people who ask me to accompany them in the mountains, be it a more complicated excursion for example a prestigious crest on mount Cervino, on Monte bianco, an expedition or maybe a simpler climb to the Breithorn, I proceed step by step, because I think they must be prepared to fully enjoy such experiences. We go to the mountains to have fun and experience joyful moments. Its not necessary to reach a peak at all costs , whats more important is how you reach it. There will be difficult times, it will cost effort, and we , the guides, are there to offer support but the clients must get there prepared”
How did you become a guide?
It was a natural choice. Last name Cazzanelli on my father’s side and Marquignaz on my mother’s are bonded for more than a century with the guide profession and with alpinism in general. I followed the traces left by my ancestors throughout five generations. I started with alpine ski races , I was then member of Italy’s national team and later became member of Cervino’s Guide Society”.
You have a classical approach to alpinism. Not only for your traditional, clean and honest style towards the mountains but also because you study them before your ascensions.Just like Walter Bonatti who carefully analyzed every step, narrow pass and foothold beforeand. Do you always do it?
Yes I like to be informed about all details and understand as much as possible of what I am about to do. There still are unforseen factors in the mountains but I like to study itineraries and the mountains themselves. I have a classical and quick approach to alpinism. I say quick because I see that the way to go about the mountains is quickly changing. Many view speed as a race, I see speed as a positive skill for an alpinist as it can bring many advantages and it can well be combined with classical alpinism”.
What does mount Cervino represent for you?
“It is an immense source of inspiration, I see it from my room’s window, from my bed. This helps me alot. I see it change with the seasons, with light, in springtime you notice certain aspects, in fall others and so on. This obsevation of Cervino’s details makes me dream of new adventures. Sometimes I can spot a dihedral sometimes a roof or a shady line which makes me desire to climb it gain. Cervino is for me a master a life teacher, what I learned on mount Cervino I brought with me on the other mountains of the world.
Often the mountains are stage to accidents or tragic events. How do you see the mountains in these dark moments?
It still is a source of light. We should always let her inspire us to be able to approach her with a light heart and fresh clear mind. We ,the guides, have behind us a history made also of many hard times. Maybe looking back at our past we will find the strenghth to stand up again and move forward in our profession with a smile.
Di Guido Andruetto