Gian Piero Motti

Shan-Gri-La

The mountaineer completely taken by the collection of climbing, the rushed hikers, or the one paying too much attention to the ascent to a shelter, hardly able to catch the essence and beautiful of the mountain of Piedmont.

When before the Dolomite landscape, everyone feels the need to say that it is “beautiful”, just as, when before the opposite south side of Bianco, we say that it is “grandiose and wild”. Instead, any valley along the Piedmont Alps, nothing so beautiful, nothing so grand or overwhelming could ever appear before your eyes. But then if you stop, if you observe rather than simply look, if you return with different lights and shadows, following the changing colours of the seasons, all with ease as if by magic and enchantment you will discover a world of beauty and hidden answers exploding in all its brightness after a long approach.

And that is why between men and these mountains, there arises a love that is a bit desperate and exclusive, faithful and tenacious. And that is why, to understand the alpine province of Cuneo, it is necessary to love, or at least understand, the playing ground of these men: the Maritime Alps.

The accusation of being provincial often made to Cuneo climbers could even be justified, but by going further into analysis, it seems to me that the Cuneo climbers of yesterday and today never wanted to leave “their” Maritime Alps. Perhaps fantasy, suggestion, imagination will all play a major role, as always; and it is here, at the bottom of a valley seen through the eyes of a lover that the slope of Peutérey appears even more beautiful and grand.

Some steep rocky towers in the transparent light and unreal in an October evening are even more fascinating than the Vaiolet. Perhaps it is not so, but as I am not from Cuneo myself, when I go out on an October evening, from the sea of mist from Gias del Saut, and I see a vision of the red bastion of Argentera and the Mother of God, or I come into the wintry silence of Gias of Lagarot, it is as if I have entered into a sort of Shan-Gri-La, which I would have difficulty finding in other places.

From: I falliti e altri scritti, Vivalda, 2000 (feature from “Montagne Nostre” 1976).

Folco Quilici

Born in Turin in 1946, Motti was the leader of the “Nuovo Mattino”, a protest movement against the degeneration of heroic mountaineering. Restless thinker, prolific and original storyteller, has left a history of mountaineering still unsurpassed, and dozens of reviews, translations, monographs and articles, some of which are dedicated to the Maritimes. He took his own life in June 1983.


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