The Città di Mantova Refuge

The plaque in memory of the victims

In 1978 one of the most tragic events in the history of mountaineering on Mount Rosa happened. On May 22, family members lost contact with four mountaineers from Mantua who had set out from Capanna Gnifetti to make the Lyskamm Nose traverse. The father of one of these contacted Arturo Squinobal, a Gressoney guide and mountain rescue member, who immediately set off the rescue machine: for a full four days mountain guides and rescuers from Gressoney, Champoluc, Alagna and Cogne, with the help of helicopters, beat a gigantic area of the glacier, in very bad weather conditions, risking their lives several times. A deployment of men and means unfortunately in vain: on the 26th morning, at 9:30 a.m., the first body was found buried under two meters of snow, thanks to the fact that some of the victims were using a tool similar to Artva, and avalanche dogs. The other three will be found not far away.

The plaque commemorating the inauguration, 2/9/1984

The families of the victims, grateful for the efforts expended during the rescue operation, collected a considerable amount of money, which they donated to the Gressoney guides. The guides decided to use this sum to build a shelter near the sites of the tragedy. The initial sum was joined by contributions from the local section of CAI, the Municipality of Mantua, a number of banks, and Valle D’Aosta: the refuge was inaugurated on September 2, 1984 under the name “Rifugio Città di Mantova.”

The story is recounted in detail in the book “Due montanari,” by Maria Teresa Cometto, dedicated to the lives and exploits of Arturo and Oreste Squinobal (who participated firsthand in the rescue operations).

On this page I have reproduced some articles from thearchives of La Stampa newspaper that document:

The 1978 incident

Eight articles, from May 22 (the day the alarm was raised) to May 27, 1978 (the day after the bodies were discovered)

Four missing on Mount Rosa

(open article)

AOSTA – Four mountaineers from Mantova are missing mei Rosa massif: they have been missing since Sunday. They are Sergio Donati, 54, Ugo Scolari(actually Scalori, ed.), 39, Giorgio D’Agliossi(actually Begnozzi, ed.), 40, all residents of Mantua, and Vincenzo Zanotti, 33, a resident of the province. Rescue teams set out to search for them, assisted by a helicopter.

(Evening Press, May 23, 1978)

The opening of the shelter in 1984

Three articles, from September 2 (official opening day) to September 4, 1984

The opening of the Mantua refuge (3457 meters)

A celebration on Mount Rosa

(open article)

GRESSONEY – Today the Città di Mantova Refuge on the Garstelet glacier in the Monte Rosa range, at an altitude of 3457 meters, will be officially opened. To mark the occasion, the Gressoney mountain guides, who own the building, have organized a series of events on the wide esplanade that stands near the hut. The families of the four mountaineers from Mantua who died in May 1978 during a mountaineering excursion on Mount Rosa and to whom the new hut was dedicated will be present. It was precisely to reward the search efforts of the Gresson guides, who were engaged for over a week in recovering the bodies of the unfortunate mountaineers, that the relatives of the four young victims (Giorgio Pagnozzi, Sergio Donati, Vincenzo Zanotti, Ugo Scalari) as a sign of gratitude, put 20 million at the disposal of the rescuers, to begin 1 construction work on the refuge. The Aosta Valley region, the Italian Alpine Club and the municipalities of Gressoney-St-Jean, La Trinité and Mantua also contributed to the completion of the work, which cost 400 million. The “Mantua Refuge,” which is run by two young men from Pont-St-Martin who are mountain enthusiasts, Sandro Juglalr and Roberto Ganis, has already been opened to the public in early July and offers about 80 beds plus restaurant services. A helicopter will be available today at 8 a.m. on the Stafal esplanade to ascend to the hut, while for those who wish to ascend on foot, the rendezvous is at 6:30 a.m. at Gabiet. The Gressoney guides will have among their guests, in addition to regional and municipal administrators, Agriculture Minister Pandolfi and probably Ministers La Malfa and Reviglio. Bishop Ovidio Lari of Aosta will celebrate Mass while the Pont-St-Martln marching band will cheer 11 afternoon.
w. b.

(La Stampa, September 2, 1984)