Where is Mario Conti? Historic Patagonia Climber Missing

Italian climbing legend Mario Conti, who climbed Cerro Torre and roped up with Reinhold Messner, has been missing since Nov. 14 in the woods near his home. Rescuers, helicopters, drones, and dogs have so far failed to find the 79-year-old, to the shock of Italy’s climbing community.

Conti was reported missing 10 days ago when he failed to return after a walk in the woods near his home in Sondrio, in the Italian Alps, near the Swiss border. The legendary climber has reportedly suffered some memory lapses but still took a daily walk in the woods every day. A week ago last Tuesday was no exception. But this time, he didn’t return, and his wife Serena raised the alarm. Unfortunately, he didn’t take his cell phone with him.

Searchers have been unable to find a trace of him.

Conti in an old picture, hitting on vertical snow/ice with a short ice-axe and wearing woolen gloves.

Mario Conti while opening the Ferrari route on Cerro Torre in 1974. Photo: Ragni di Lecco

A great adventure life

Conti was a well-known climber and a mountain guide for 54 years. He was one of the elite alpinists in the first generation of the Ragni di Lecco (Leco’s spiders). The club included among its members some of the most important names in Italy’s climbing history, including Tita Piaz, Riccardo Cassin, and Casimiro Ferrari.

He was one of Casimiro Ferrari’s partners on the first undisputed climb of Cerro Torre in 1974. The following year, Conti joined Riccardo Cassin and Reinhold Messner on an attempt on the south face of Lhotse.

Conti inside a tent, with a red woolen pullover.

Mario Conti during an expedition to Cerro Piergiorgio in Patagonia in 2008. Photo: Ragni di Lecco

No trace

The search has spread around the region, including the shores of the Mallero stream. Given the time that has elapsed, hopes of finding him alive have decreased, but the search continues.

“He was my teacher…he taught us that we should never give up, without trying to be heroes,” Ragni di Lecco member Alberto Marazzi told Il Corriere della Sera. “We are here for him and we will not leave without finding him.”

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.