American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Ernani Faè, 1911-1983

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984



Ernani Faè was born in May 1911 in Belluno, Italy. From Belluno, the beautiful capital of the Dolomites, it is easy to reach the valleys and famous peaks. Thus, Ernani Faè, as a teenager, started to climb together with friends. In Belluno there were expert climbers, and excellent professional guides in the valleys such as Cortina. But he was too young to be accepted. Nevertheless, he progressed, animated by his love for his Dolomites and by his qualities as a natural climber.

At that time four names dominated climbing. Two were guides: Tita Piaz, nicknamed the Devil of the Dolomites, and Angelo Dibona, famous for great new routes in all the Alps. Two were guideless stars: Paul Preuss, the unforgettable champion of free climbing, and Hans Dülfer, the pioneer of new routes in the Kaisergebirge. Ernani Faè was soon able to repeat some famous climbs of these men, such as the Dülfer route on the Guglia de Amicis and that on the Torre del Diavolo. He also did the Preuss route on the Cima Piccolissima di Lavaredo, where several accidents had occurred in attempts to repeat the Preuss success. Quickly the teenager was becoming a real alpinist.

Some of the best young Tirolean guides in 1925 made great new conquests: the direct north face of Monte Pelmo by Roland Rossi and the very impressive direct northwest face of Monte Civetta by Emil Solleder. With more experienced alpinists, Ernani Faè in 1930 climbed the north face of Monte Pelmo. A violent storm created a dramatic situation, but notwithstanding a terrible bivouac, they reached the summit. The teenager had become a real alpinist. Half a century later he told me again his vivid impressions of this bivouac.

In 1932 he reached his full maturity as an alpinist. He repeated, first on the rope, the Solleder route on the northwest face on Monte Civetta and also the Videsott-Rittler-Rudatis route on the magnificent western edge of the Cima della Busazza. Together, he and I made the first ascent of one of the most difficult pinnacles of the Dolomites, now known as Guglia Rudatis. It is 330 feet high and more difficult than the Dülfer route on the famous Torre del Diavolo.

The high point in the climbing life of Ernani Faè was in 1934 when he started to climb with Alvise Andrich, an extraordinary boy from a village in the Val Cordevole, another born climber. He was only 19 years old when with Ernani Faè, already 23, he made the direttissima of the northwest face of the Punta Civetta, completely free climbing without any artificial aid. It was on August 23 and 24, 1934. The Andrich-Faè route is at the present time still considered a classic and an extremely difficult climb, though many route descriptions classify it as a series of aid leads. On the vertical wall of Punta Civetta, Ernani Faè knew perfectly himself and his limits, outside as well as inside. He continued to keep the memories of the beauty of free climbing, often fighting for his ideal against the spiritual degeneration of mechanized climbing.

After some years, inspired by the feeling of adventure always present in his soul, he went to the interior of Brazil, where relatives were prospecting for gold, but he did not like it. He returned to Rio de Janeiro and served in the Italian Consulate. In World War II he returned to Italy.

In 1947 he became an employee of the Italian Consulate General in New York, where he worked till his retirement in 1966. He was decorated and was also President of the Association of Emigrants from Belluno. His wife and two sons survive.

He was a member of the American Alpine Club for many years.

On January 12, 1983, at the age of 71, he was a victim of a heart attack.

Domenico Rudatis, Club Alpino Accademico Italiano

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