K2 Tragedy: Death of Renato Casarotto

Asia, Pakistan
Author: Xavier Equskitza. Climb Year: N/A. Publication Year: 1987.

The Italian climber Renato Casarotto was trying to climb solo the long, then still unclimbed south-southwest ridge of K2 with a slight deviation to the right in the upper part. A first attempt ended at 8200 meters about June 23. A second try reached a similar height about July 5. In his third attempt, in mid July, he reached a little higher, about 8300 meters but decided to withdraw in view of the weather, playing safe as usual. He descended the whole length of the ridge to the foot of the mountain and the De Filippi Glacier where on July 16 he was watched by Kurt Diemberger as he fell into a crevasse only about an hour’s walk from Base Camp. The crevasse was about 40 meters deep. He managed to get out his radio from his rucksack and call his wife who was at Base Camp and had been told by Diemberger to turn the radio on. He whispered, “Goretta, I am dying in a crevasse near Base Camp.” She organized a search party from the Italian, British and German expeditions nearby, including their doctors. Very soon they found him in the bottom of the crevasse, still alive. After lifting him to the surface, all efforts of the doctors were useless and he died soon afterwards. Following the wishes of his wife, his body was placed back to rest in the crevasse. This is a great loss for Italian mountaineering and a cruel blow for Goretta Casarotto, who has always accompanied him in far-away expeditions and given him priceless moral and practical support on all his solo climbs. She accompanied him in 1985 when together they reached the summit of Gasherbrum II.

Xavier Eguskitza, Pyrenaica, Bilbao, Spain