Italian Alpinists Cala Cimenti and Patrick Negro Perish in Avalanche

An avalanche in the Upper Susa Valley took the lives of the two Italian alpinists.
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Cala Cimenti during a day ski mountaineering on January 25.

Cala Cimenti during a day ski mountaineering on January 25.

On February 8, Italian alpinist Carlalberto “Cala” Cimenti and his partner Patrick Negro were buried and killed in an avalanche while ski mountaineering in the Upper Susa Valley in Piedmont, Italy. The men were 45 and 50 years old respectively, and both were extremely experienced mountaineers who lost their lives climbing and skiing in their home mountains.

Negro’s career is less well-known than Cimenti’s, though he was still a distinguished and revered member of his climbing community. For years he was a leader of the Pragelato Mountain Rescue and carried out numerous rescue missions. Negro was known to many in the town of Pragelato as “Sherpa” for his knowledge of the mountains. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Cimenti was a prodigious alpinist and existed at the cutting edge of ski mountaineering. He summited Mont Blanc for the first time when he was 12 years old with his father, and later in life grew an affinity for skiing off the summit of high altitude mountains.

In 2011, Cimenti skied off the summit of Manaslu (8,163 meters). In 2015, he received the Snow Leopard award from the Russian Mountaineering Federation for skiing all five 7,000-meter peaks in the former Soviet Union. In 2019, Cimenti climbed and skied Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters), one of the most formidable peaks on Earth. Just a few days after his ascent and descent of Naga Parbat, Cimenti played a vital role in rescuing a fellow climber off of Gasherbrum VII. The devoted mountaineer died six days before his 46th birthday and is survived by his beloved wife.

The 2020/2021 winter season has been notably deadly for climbers and skiers in terms of avalanches, in North America and around the globe. Patrick Negro and Cala Cimenti were not naive or inexperienced—they were seasoned ski mountaineers on home turf when unstable conditions and unfortunate circumstances converged.