Italian climber Lino Lacedelli died this week. He was one of the first two climbers to have reached the summit of K2. He climbed the summit with Achille Compagnoni.
The first climb of K2 was marred in controversy for many years. Walter Bonatti and the porter he was climbing with – Mahdi – were delivering oxygen to both Lacedelli and Compagnoni who were at the highest camp before the summit.
Compagnoni had claimed that Bonatti had used all of the oxygen meant for him and Lacedelli on a selfish attempt by Bonatti to become the first climber to reach the summit of K2. Bonatti had vehemently refuted this version of the story. He said that the leading pair were not where they were supposed to be for his drop of the oxygen.
Bonatti said that he and his partner left the oxygen needed for the final push by Compagnoni and Lacedelli where they were supposed to. But it had meant they had to spend that night in the freezing open conditions of K2.
Bonatti and Mahdi spent the night bivouacking at around 8000m. Mahdi ended up suffering severe frostbite to his toes and fingers. Bonatti fortunately did end up with frostbite. He kicked at his legs from time to time to make sure that they were not going to freeze.
Recently though Lacedelli talked about what really happened on that first summit of K2. He said that he thought that Bonatti would turn around and head back down the mountain. He never expected that Bonatti and Mahdi would spend the night out at such a height.
Lacedelli said that the reason that they were not at the specific drop off point was that they were scared of the overhanging serac above the bottleneck. Thus they camped much higher than they would have.
Lacedelli had remained silent on what really happened until 2006. He had tried calling Bonatti but he was told that it was too late from Bonatti.
Earlier this year Achille Compagnoni died at the age of 94.