Pietro Dal Pra was born in Vicenza in 1971. His love for the mountains began as a child with outings with his parents, and he took his first steps on the rocks with his father in the Dolomites. He started serious rock climbing not far from home, amid the cliffs of Lumignano, and thanks to his whole-hearted passion and certain talent, was able to face extremely difficult sport climbing from a very young age, some of the most demanding climbs taking place in the mid-1980s not just in Italy, but on the well-known rock faces of southern France.
Once he had finished his schooling, low altitude sport climbing was no longer enough for the young Pietro and his need to move and breathe in the wide open spaces took him to the faces of the Dolomites and the Alps, and so as to ‘live’ the mountains, he became a professional alpine guide at the age of twenty-one. Alongside his professional commitments, Pietro continued to frequent the mountain faces and put his signature to some of the most outstanding climbs in the Dolomites – in all manners of styles, both alone and in company, summer and winter, at times as a ‘first’ or as a repetition of important itineraries. Outside the Dolomites, Pietro has ascended faces of tremendous difficulty from Patagonia to North America.
One of Pietro Dal Pra’s main distinguishing characteristics is the variety of styles undertaken in his climbs. His great passion for climbing in all its forms has taken him to ascend the most various of rock faces, from those whose only challenge is gaining maximum difficulty in absolute safety to the great walls, all of which are the stage on which Pietro practises pure mountaineering, dictated by the simple desire to live life ‘vertically’ and not by a wish for high altitude heroics. This is what makes Pietro Dal Pra such an eclectic climber – his simple desire for new vertical experiences, together with a great climbing style.
Pietro Dal Pra has been a bone marrow donor since June 8, 2010.
One evening I was in Bassano to present my mountaineering activities and explain why I love the mountains. Basically it’s because I need humanity – and I’m thirsty for life.
It was that evening that I met Giovanni, a cool twenty-two year-old who was (is) awaiting bone marrow donation. I found myself completely unversed on the subject, but when I began to find out more, I discovered a world other than that of the mountains where one seeks humanity and life – not so as to fly high, but to survive.
At first I was ashamed of my ignorance. I was almost angry with myself and the world for not knowing anything of those living in hope of finding a compatible donor. I was amazed at how easy it is to become a potential donor of life.
An hour. Maybe even less – it depends on where you live and how much traffic there is to get to the hospital to give a normal blood sample. An hour – to become a number that will be inserted into an enormous worldwide database – a container that many of those who are waiting watch with hope.
A big box full of numbers, a big box which is always too small: absurdly small, because so as to make it bigger it only takes an hour of your life; the time for an aperitif, a session on the web, a post-lunch snooze, two news programmes, a phone call; maybe even less time than some people spend every day in texting.
We’re all in a hurry and we all do these things. But that hour it takes to go and give some blood and throw one’s number into the big box of life only three hundred and seventy thousand have taken in Italy. Eleven million throughout the world. The big box of the numbers of life is scandalously replete.
Modern society; a continual lament of the depersonalization of the individual, of selfishness, senselessness, apathy, frustrations. The too much has demeaned the essential, the essential beneficial.
And so to a selfish consideration: does dedicating an hour to putting your number into the big box of life give more hope to someone so they may survive or to who donates the chance to identify her/himself in a sense to life? Is it less noble to feel proud of oneself as potential donors of life than to think of the suffering of those who are awaiting (and right now with little hope of attaining, considering how small the big box is) a transplant?
But let’s not get lost in useless elaborations, because these two aspects are indistinguishable.
I shall go and have the blood test and I will become a number in the big box of life because now that I know, I have no choice. Because I’ve chucked away many a useless hour, I still chuck them away and I will continue to do so. The chance for such a concretely useful hour I cannot not take hold of, and live. Maybe – though the chances are remote – someone somewhere in the world will regain life from that very hour and my gesture. What’s certain is that I will feel better.