Another Loss to Mourn: Cala Cimenti Dies in Avalanche

What is wrong this year? Another promising climber with a bright career in front of him, a friend of the late Sergi Mingote and — it’s still hard to say — the late Ali Sadpara perished today in the mountains. Italian Carlalberto “Cala” Cimenti was caught in an avalanche while skiing in Sestriere’s Argentera Valley, in the Italian Alps. His friend, Patrick Negro, also died in the accident.

Cimenti had summited Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam solo, and Manaslu, which he then skied down. He was also the first Italian to earn the Snow Leopard award for climbers who summit the highest peaks in the former Soviet Union. In 2013, Cimenti summited Korzhenevskaya Peak (7,105m), Lenin Peak (7,134m), and Khan Tengri Peak (7,010m). Then in 2015, he reached the top of Communism Peak, also achieving its first ski descent.

It’s not real winter until I get an iced-up beard, Cala Cimenti used to say. Photo: Cala Cimenti


Cimenti, Mingote, and Sadpara summited Nanga Parbat together in the summer of 2019. The Italian then skied down the mountain (although he removed his boards for a short section) while the other two descended on foot. Those were happy days.

Next, he climbed and skied down Gasherbrum VII. It was not an easy outing. His partner, Francesco Cassardo, fell on the way down and needed help. Luckily, Denis Urubko was in the area, trying a new route. That was the period when Urubko seemed to spend half his time rescuing other climbers.

A taste of snow for the happy couple: Cala and wife Erika Siffredi. Photo: Cala Cimenti


Then came 2020, and the pandemic. Cimenti caught COVID-19 at a time when going to a hospital in northern Italy was out of the question. It took him weeks and a good deal of suffering to overcome the illness at home.

Once restrictions lifted, he jumped to the mountains with even more enthusiasm: cycling, climbing, trail-running, paragliding…then, with the first snows, up to the Alps and the Dolomites, to enjoy the best of the Italian white paradise.

Cimenti was the type of guy who seemed bred for the outdoors: tall and slim, skilled in all disciplines, with a cute little dog running after him on mountain trails and a stunning wife whom he was totally in love with, Erika Siffredi, a keen skier and climber herself. Cimenti proposed to her in style, at Renjo La (5,400m) on a trekking trip in Nepal.

Cimenti in the hills at last, after overcoming COVID and restrictions. Photo: Cala Cimenti


He would have turned 46 this next Sunday. He will not be able to celebrate it with Erika. But he’ll surely meet his friends in the mountains beyond life: Sergi, Ali, and Juan Pablo Mohr whose 34th birthday, by the way, would have been tomorrow.