Italian Alpinist Matteo Bernasconi Killed in Avalanche

Respected Italian alpinist Matteo Bernasconi—known for difficult ascents in Patagonia—died in an avalanche while ski mountaineering in Northern Italy.

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Bernasconi on Gran Zebrù in Italy’s Ortler Alps in 2018.

On May 12, 38-year-old Italian alpinist Matteo Bernasconi was swept away and killed in an avalanche while ski mountaineering in Northern Italy. Bernasconi—known as Berna—was alone, navigating the Malgina couloir on Pizzo del Diavolo in the Valtellina region when the accident occurred. A search and rescue effort recovered his body. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Berna was a mountain guide, a member of the Ragni di Lecco climbing club, and a widely respected alpinist, known for his unrelenting determination and boundless passion for the mountains.

Vinicio Stefanello wrote in memoriam on “Berna was a rock. Quiet, determined, reliable. He never backed down. He had a love for the mountains and mountaineering that was limitless. It was bigger than him. Taking to the mountains, climbing, was what he most wanted.”

Berna put up difficult first ascents all over the world, but is especially known for his work in Patagonia. In 2006 he established a line up the previously unclimbed North Face of San Lorenzo. In 2008 he completed the seventh ascent (and first Italian ascent) of the legendary West Face Ragni Route on Cerro Torre. Berna had three enormous attempts at the final unclimbed great face of the Cerro Torre Massif between 2010 and 2013—the West Face of Torre Egger. His partners in that endeavor, Matteo della Bordella and Luca Schiera, finished the route in March 2013, just days after Berna’s return to Italy. In 2017 he made the first ascent of a new route up the East Face of Cerro Murallon, and earlier this year he established a new line on the North Face of Aguja Standhardt. These are just a few of Berna’s countless mountain exploits.

Berna’s longtime climbing partner, Matteo della Bordella, wrote on Instagram: “Who knows how many times I will see your face drawn on the mountains you loved most, on those mountains we grew up together and your dreams have always been mine, my friend. If I think about how many we have spent together, all this seems even more senseless, the anger and emptiness of memories become even greater. Friendship cannot be explained in words, it declines in different ways, is cemented with time spent sharing part of our life path.”