Another Loss to Mourn: Cala Cimenti Dies in Avalanche

Mountain
Cala Cimenti and Ali Sadpara in the good days of Nanga Parbat, in 2019. Photo: Cala Cimenti

What is wrong this year? Another promising climber with a bright career in front of him, a friend of the late Sergi Mingote and — it’s still hard to say — the late Ali Sadpara perished today in the mountains. Italian Carlalberto “Cala” Cimenti was caught in an avalanche while skiing in Sestriere’s Argentera Valley, in the Italian Alps. His friend, Patrick Negro, also died in the accident.

Cimenti had summited Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam solo, and Manaslu, which he then skied down. He was also the first Italian to earn the Snow Leopard award for climbers who summit the highest peaks in the former Soviet Union. In 2013, Cimenti summited Korzhenevskaya Peak (7,105m), Lenin Peak (7,134m), and Khan Tengri Peak (7,010m). Then in 2015, he reached the top of Communism Peak, also achieving its first ski descent.

It’s not real winter until I get an iced-up beard, Cala Cimenti used to say. Photo: Cala Cimenti

Cimenti, Mingote, and Sadpara summited Nanga Parbat together in the summer of 2019. The Italian then skied down the mountain (although he removed his boards for a short section) while the other two descended on foot. Those were happy days.

Next, he climbed and skied down Gasherbrum VII. It was not an easy outing. His partner, Francesco Cassardo, fell on the way down and needed help. Luckily, Denis Urubko was in the area, trying a new route. That was the period when Urubko seemed to spend half his time rescuing other climbers.

A taste of snow for the happy couple: Cala and wife Erika Siffredi. Photo: Cala Cimenti

Then came 2020, and the pandemic. Cimenti caught COVID-19 at a time when going to a hospital in northern Italy was out of the question. It took him weeks and a good deal of suffering to overcome the illness at home.

Once restrictions lifted, he jumped to the mountains with even more enthusiasm: cycling, climbing, trail-running, paragliding…then, with the first snows, up to the Alps and the Dolomites, to enjoy the best of the Italian white paradise.

Cimenti was the type of guy who seemed bred for the outdoors: tall and slim, skilled in all disciplines, with a cute little dog running after him on mountain trails and a stunning wife whom he was totally in love with, Erika Siffredi, a keen skier and climber herself. Cimenti proposed to her in style, at Renjo La (5,400m) on a trekking trip in Nepal.

Cimenti in the hills at last, after overcoming COVID and restrictions. Photo: Cala Cimenti

He would have turned 46 this next Sunday. He will not be able to celebrate it with Erika. But he’ll surely meet his friends in the mountains beyond life: Sergi, Ali, and Juan Pablo Mohr whose 34th birthday, by the way, would have been tomorrow.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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ipgon
ipgon
8 months ago

Your style of writing is amazing, I Love It!

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Louie
Louie
8 months ago

This week alone in addition to the K2 tragedy and the article above: “COLORADO, USA — Avalanches across the U.S. killed 15 people last week, which was the highest toll over a seven-day period in more than a century, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) said in a Facebook post on Sunday.” Also, “Avalanche carried 3 men down steep gully Tuesday and killed them, report says – Anchorage Daily News Thomas Devine, Matthew Nyman and Edward Watson were on a steep, narrow gulley on the north face of Bear Mountain when one of their boots triggered a wind slab avalanche… Read more »

Don Paul
Don Paul
8 months ago
Reply to  Louie

When I lived in Denver a few years ago I wanted to get into backcountry skiing, and picked up a second hand splitboard. Then realized you had to learn about transponders and avalanche rescue, and the more I researched, the more I realized this was not the sport for me. It seems like one of the most amazing things you could do, but I don’t like the thought of suffocating under snow, or digging in the snow to try to find my buried partner.

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Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
8 months ago
Reply to  Louie

My guess is that these things happen all the time. We are just hearing about it more. Same with all the volcanic stuff.

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Dor
Dor
8 months ago

I hope you take care of yourself Angela, I feel for you and those tragic articles you keep having to write. Thank you for keeping us informed.

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Faiqa
Faiqa
8 months ago

Strange. All of them have same birthday month. And now same year and month of death.

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Yaromeer
8 months ago

It is simple. In Europe (and pressumably in other parts of world as well) almost all organized sport activities are banned due to COVID restrictions except cycling, ski-touring, trekking and sports done in open sky, nature and mountains. Which has a clear consequence of more people in terrain and statistically higher probability of accidents. Here, in Czech Republic where people simply have currently nothing to do(bc everthing is closed) are “sieging” the mountains. There are more people who focus on outdoor sports rather than on their original interest (ball games, gyms, and such as these are banned) in quite “wannabe… Read more »

Tom Kitta
Tom Kitta
8 months ago

RIP. He also skied down from the very top of Lenin. I met him twice. Great guy. Great to be around in the mountains. He was always smiling. Always happy. I was hoping to see him again after the virus thing is over. Terrible news.

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Tina
Tina
8 months ago

I just started following stuff like this. Think it’s time to quit already.

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Taimur Khan
Taimur Khan
8 months ago

It may have something to do with global warming and changing climate patterns. Perhaps covid has also pushed more people into the mountains as some have suggested here. The combination will make for more disasters I’m afraid.

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