Martini Ledge, Lagazuoi Pizo

Spent the day climbing Lagazuoi Pizo, a 2752m peak above Passo Falzarego; 650m of climb and famous for its tunnels excavated during the 1915-17 Mountain War between Italy and Austria. The whole mountain is like a Dutch cheese. The usual route up is to use the cable car and descend through the 700m of steep tunnels. We choose to ascend up the tunnels.

The Austrians occupied the strategic summit of Lagazuoi Pizo. The Italians tried in vain to dislodge them succeeding in establishing a presence on Martini Ledge, shown in the photo. The ledge is half way up a 600m shear rock face. Fierce fighting took place with the Austrians just a few tens of metres above them. There are stories of the Austrians being lowered down on ropes and throwing hand granades at the Italians. The Italians’ plan was to tunnel to below the Austrians position. Eventually after six months of tunnelling they exploded 33,000 kg of explosives ripping out a great chunk of the mountain. The Austrians however had got wind of an impending attack and abandoned their positions.

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