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Vittorio Sella K2 Photograph Commemorating the Duke of Albruzzi's Expedition in 1909 -- Signed by A 1954 Team of Italian Climbers

This photograph of the south-east face of K2 was taken on the expedition of Luigi Amedeo, Duke of Abruzzi's to K2 and the Karakorum in 1909.

This is one of a limited number of copies issued to celebrate the conquest of K2 by the Italian climbers on the 31st July 1954. Ink stamp on the verso reads:

  • Istituto Di Fotografia Alpina "V. Sella"
  • Biella - S. Gerolamo
  • Dritti di riproduzione e stampa riservati (Rights of reproduction and printing reserved)
  • Soggetto K2
  • Punto di Vista: dal Colle V. Sella
  • Autore: Vittorio Sella -- Data 1909
  • Positiva N 1/6172

The signatures include:

  • Achille Compagnoni (summiter)
  • Lino Lacedelli (summiter)
  • Walter Bonatti
  • Mario Fantin
  • Gino Solda
  • Ubaldo Rey
  • Pino Gallotti
  • Erich Abram
  • Cirillo Floreanini
  • Sergio Viotto
  • Guido Patgani
  • Ugo Angelino.

This print has had the signature of Achille Compagnoni added later, because he could not sign with the others, due to his hospitalization after the ascent.

Vittorio Sella

Vittorio Sella (1859 - 1943) was an Italian photographer and mountaineer, who took photographs of mountains which are regarded as some of the finest ever made.

Sella was born in Biella in the foothills of the Alps and acquired his interest in mountaineering from his uncle, Quintino Sella. He made a number of significant climbs in the Alps, including the first winter ascents of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, and the first winter traverse of Mont Blanc. He took part in several expeditions further afield, including:

  • Three to the Caucasus (where a peak now bears his name)
  • Mount Saint Elias in Alaska
  • 1909 expedition to K2 and the Karakoram.

The latter three expeditions were in the company of Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi. Sella continued to climb into his old age, and made his last attempt on the Matterhorn at seventy six.

The high quality of Sella's photography was in part due to his use of 30×40 cm photographic plates, in spite of the difficulty of carrying bulky and fragile equipment into remote places. He had to invent equipment, including modified pack saddles and rucksacks, to allow these particularly large glass plates to be transported safely.

Sella's photographs were widely published and exhibited, and highly praised; Ansel Adams, who saw thirty-one images which Sella presented to the US Sierra Club, said they inspired "a definitely religious awe".

Many of the photographs he took were of mountains which had not been previously recorded, so many of his images have historical as well as artistic significance. For example, he was the first to record the retreat of glaciers in the Rwenzori mountains in Central Africa.

Sella died in Biella in 1943. His collection of photographs is now managed by the Sella Foundation (Fondazione Sella) in Biella.