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Balmenhorn: Popular 38 Four Thousand Meter Peaks

Located on the Italian side of the Monte Rosa massif, Balmenhorn is one of the popular 38 four thousand meter peaks.
The name “Balmen” is thought to be derived from the language of the Walsers meaning cave like overhangs at the foot of cliffs. This 4167 meter mountain on the Italian side of the Monte Rosa massif has ten clearly defined 4000 meter summits. The Balmenhorn is on the so called extended list of 4000 meter summits. This outcrop was prominence of only 12 meters, and can be climbed by a secured pathway and is difficult to make out visually against the crevasse ridden Lys Glacier. According to the UIAA or the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, there are topographical reasons, morphological reasons and climbing reasons for considering a mountain to be a real 4000 meter summit.

To hike this 4000 meter mountain, it is necessary to have a mountain guide and depending on fitness levels, it may be suitable for single or multiple ascents in the Monte Rosa massif. The first disputed ascent was made by Marco Maglioni, Albert de Rotschild with Niklaus Knubel, Peter Knubel and Edouard Coupelin on August 17 1873. The first certain ascent was made by Giovanni Mariotti, Andrea Pedretti, Simone Viguey with Welf and David Zaccaria on August 6 1875.

Balmenhorn 2

Thanks to a four meter high bronze statue weighing a ton, that the rather inconspicuous Blamenhorn has achieved an additional importance related neither to topography,morphology or mountaineering. It was the solid rock base on this summit that led the Turin artist and partisan leader Alfredo Bai to place his statue, which was created from war scrap on the Balmenhorn. During the Second World War, Alfredo Bai made a vow to place a statue on one of the 4000 meter summits as a symbol of peace, in memory of all victims irrespective to their nationality. The statue called “Cristo delle Vette” or “Christ of the Summits” was dismantled into eleven parts for transport here by 35 mountain soldiers originating from all the provinces of Italy. The raw material for the statue was donated by the Italian Ministry of Defense and the final work was unveiled in a solemn ritual on September 4 1955.

In 1954, the twin town of the municipality at the foot of the Monte Rosa erected another statue, “Christ of the Abyss” on the sea bed in the Bay of San Fruttuoso. This project was initiated by Duilio Marcante in memory of Dario Gonzatti, who died in a diving accident in 1950. With the help of the Italian navy, the statue was lowered to the seabed at a depth of 17 meters close to the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, between Camogli and Portofino on August 22 1954. The statue of Christ, about 2.5 meter tall, was made by the sculptor Guido Galletti. The bronze for the statue was cast from medals, propellers from US Navy submarines and church bells. As a sign of peace, the hands of Jesus was raised towards the surface of the sea. In memory of Marcante, a commemorative plaque was placed on the base of the statue after his death.