July 10th 1939, a date which will remain engraved in the history of Italian alpinism, is the birth of the first group of non professional rock climbers the Scoiattoli of Cortina dAmpezzo. Even though Cortina has a rich history of extraordinary rock ascents between local guides and their clientele that dates back to the nineteenth century, the creation of the Scoiattoli symbolizes the beginning of Italian alpinism. The men and women of the Scoiattoli are not professional guides interested only inearning economic profit, but rather are climbers dedicated to the purity of climbing and testing their limits against the difficulties of sheer rock faces.
In the 1940s the symbol of the Scoiattoli evolved into that of a squirrel. Not only is this symbol worn on the left sleeve of every Scoiattolis sweater, but also may be seen on all the routes and peaks of the Dolomites and the European alps. In the Summer of 2004, with the ascent of K2, the Scoiattoli squirrel will travel to the summit of the second highest mountain in the world.
The ten original members of the Scoiattoli were young, passionate mountaineers. In those years, being a mountain guide was a particularly difficult and dangerous job. The guides in Cortina had so much work that they had little time to teach young aspiring alpinists the trade of guiding. Thus, these ten young men decided to found their own non profit organisation based on promoting alpinism, which later evolved into rescue aid, sport climbing and any other activities revolving around the mountains.
Today, although many of the Scoiattoli are professional mountain guides, the moment that they put on the red Scoiattoli sweater, become part of the same group, tied too the same symbolic rope representing their purest bond. They are Scoiattoli, driven by the same pure and simple passion for vertical rock faces and the same humanitarian spirit during their rescue operations.
Today, more than 60 years after the foundation of the group, much has changed in the world of mountaineering. The group has grown, climbing techniques have evolved, but the Scoiattoli group remains firm in its original credo of the mountain.
A weak ridge is situated over Afghanistan. It may at times affect the K2-area during the first days giving only risk of occasional showers. Then it seems to become more unsettled with frequent showers due to lows over Kashmir and Tibet.