A Settemila Metri: Gli Inca, Precursori d’Alpinismo, by Mario Fantin. Bologna: Tamari Editori, 1969. 24 pages, 18 illustrations (some in color), 1 map.
The notion that mountaineering began with the first ascent of Mont Blanc is no longer acceptable. Some three centuries before the historical year of 1786, and even before Cortés’ soldiers had climbed Popocatepetl in 1519, a number of very high Andean summits had been occupied by ill-equipped highlanders of the Inca empire. These summits include Llullaillaco, 22,058 feet high, an elevation not to be surpassed until British surveyors climbed in the Punjab-Himalaya in the late 1800’s.
This booklet by Signor Fantin reviews in detail the Indian ascents in the Andes as thus far known in mountaineering circles. A total of twenty peaks, from 16,000 to 22,058 feet are listed. Mummies have been discovered on two of them. Furthermore, there remain possibilities of further findings on very high mountains like Mercedario (21,884 feet) and Aconcagua itself (22,835 feet), highest point of this hemisphere.
As usual in Signor Fantin’s publications, illustrations are very good. The bibliography it includes to document each Indian ascent may lead to fascinating new discoveries.
No history of world mountaineering can now be complete without borrowing heavily from this study. In fact, it will from now on supply the core of the first chapter of any such history book of the future.