For those mountaineers and climbers who know Heinz, the surprise element began when they saw his name on the programme of the of Rome’s highly successful week of the “Montagne in Città” (Mountains in the City). In fact, the mere fact that Heinz Mariacher even stood up on a stage to talk about his incredible feats was a challenge won by the group efforts of SCARPA, the organizing staff and Heinz’s “friends from Rome”.
Pierluigi Bini, or “Piero” for his roped party buddies, Stefano Ardito and Alberto Sciamplicotti have all written books about the mountains and they also took the stage with Heinz to entertain the audience with tales, anecdotes and stories about the type of climbing that is only apparently light years away from what we see today because it remains relevant enough for the younger generation - who all recognize it as the very essence of climbing.
SCARPA put heart and soul into planning and sponsoring the evening. Heinz started it off at a fast pace as he fascinated his public with the story of how he discovered the world of mountain climbing: he was 11 years old and he went off on his own to climb the Level 5+ wall that he could see every day from his house. Pierluigi, a native of Rome, told the audience about his first experience which involved climbing the wall of the railway viaduct that passes over via Casilina.
The sincere desire of these men to share their personal stories met with laughter and applause throughout the evening. At a certain point the stage went dark and a short film featuring extraordinary images swept the audience away with photos and videos of Heinz and Luisa Iovane climbing walls in the Dolomites, at Yosemite, the Sahara and the Verdon gorges.
But when all is said and done, what is the difference between the way they climbed back in the day and how we climb now? Heinz had this to say: “We used to go climbing for our own personal satisfaction. Now lots of people just do it for the public and for the attention on social media. It would be nice if in the future people go back to climbing like they used to in Comici’s time – just doing it for themselves. These days everything looks the same and it’s all equally boring”.
“We ought to maintain the spirit of a beginner” was the phrase that concluded this wonderful evening.