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With Matterhorn in the eyes: François Cazzanelli

He loves a fast and light style, but does not disdain classic mountaineering. Mountain Guide for 11 years, François Cazzanelli has opened routes in the Alps and in the Himalayas, building a new piece of his history with each climb. 31 years old, with a smile on his face, always messy hair and “94 Matternhorn” in his pocket, Cazzanelli is proudly part of the historic Cervino Guides, like his father Valter and his grandparents, both paternal and maternal. Today he wears the colors of La Sportiva and looks at his home mountains with different eyes.

“I’ve climbed all over the world. I reached the summit of Everest and Lhotse in the same season, and speed climbed on Manaslu. I was on Vinson, in Antarctica, and I reached Cassin at Denali, but the peaks of Valtournenche are the ones that still stimulate me to go to the mountains.”

From the long ridge that includes Grandes and Petites Murailles, up to the Furggen chain and the attractive Gran Becca. Those who are born in its shadow have their destiny sealed, one may say. Looking at François we can confirm this.

What does the Matterhorn mean to you?
It is a school of life. What I learned on its 4478 meters I took it to the mountains of the world. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain but there is a deep connection with this mountain, which has intensified over the years, climb after climb. Living on its slopes, observing it every day, allows you to grasp its ever new opportunities. This is how projects, ambitions and dreams are born. It will never cease to amaze me.

You give great value to local mountaineering…
I think it is important to keep looking for something new on your home mountains. What you do there remains. A crossing, a route, a chain remains under your eyes, every day. You look at it and think “I did that!” and somehow you feel enriched and fulfilled.

Is there still room for something new?
There will always be romm, until the mountaineers’ imagination runs out. Home mountains offer great opportunities, you just need to know how to grasp them.

According to some, mountaineering is a form of art. How would you define yours?
It’s my personal form of expression. My way of expressing myself, in all seasons of the year, adapting myself to what the mountain offers.

The mountains, whether close to home or on the other side of the world, have objective risks. How far are you willing to push yourself?
Difficult to answer. Often it is the instinct that stops you, that makes you understand when to turn your back to the summit and go home. When you feel it, it saves your life. I am also convinced that it changes a lot from where you are, at least for me. In the mountains near home I have a certain type of approach, while in the mountains around the world the attitude is different.

What do you mean?
It’s difficult to explain, let me try with an example. All the bigger projects carried out on the peaks of Valtournenche have required several years of attempts. I had to return three times to the Grandes Murailles, and it took me four attempts to open the route called “Diretta allo Scudo” on the Matterhorn. When I feel that something is wrong I go back, I can always try again.

We know that you have had a girlfriend for several years now, what does she think about what you do?
Alessia and I have been together for 6 years now and we have a great relationship. She’s aware of the risks I take, which goes far beyond being a Guide. Together we have lived many adventures and many situations that helped to consolidate our bond. I also must say that if I have achieved so many results in my life, it is also and above all thanks to her and her ability to put my life and all things in order.

Do you ever imagine to become a dad?
I would like to, but before this can happen, I have to be in the right condition.

When we are young disappointments are even stronger, which one has marked you the most?
Certainly Kangchenjunga in 2014. I found myself blown away by the altitude and still today I feel the disappointment of not having been able to be up to the task. I think it is part of the normal growth of a mountaineer, when four years later I reached the summit of Everest everything was different.

Do you have a secret dream? Something you always think about, but that for now you try not to touch?
The south face of Annapurna. I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while, but I have to find the right moment and the right partner.

2022 is a year of change for you, you have recently intensified your collaboration with La Sportiva, a company with which you have been collaborating for several years. How do you fit into the reality of the company of Ziano di Fiemme?
It was not an easy step for me to wear a total look by La Sportiva. What convinced me was the tremendous warmth I felt by the whole company. For the first time, I felt a strong motivation to do something together, to grow together. I see it both in the availability towards me, but also in the test and product development work that we are carrying out together. More fun is coming!