Walter is the last Grivel to work with Iron, actually he is iron, and always has been made of iron.
So I have known him for a long time but Walter goes back a few years before me and used to work with the forge and the hammer. We were talking the other day about my first pair of crampons, that I had in 1973 and the chances are that he made them. It was he or his mate, working side by side sometimes. Anyway when I said they were a very good pair very stiff, he claimed responsibility, Walter is like me in that respect, he knows the value of his work. So I spent 14 months in Courmayeur and changed flat four times and Walter and his family finally put me up just before the Tor de Geants, and Walter and his family always gave me the nod when they saw me training and when they heard that I stopped because of cramp and stuff they just said ‘hard shit Stevie its like that man”. Walters’ genes are Walser that is from north of the alps and they are burly men not scared of working, sometimes they have red hair and there humour is subdued and slow in coming they are not typically what you think of as Italian. Anyway the Flat Walter gave me was great but it was ten yards from the original Grivel forge which of course was totally cool. A week or so before The Tor the Ultra trail de Mt Blanc was on, and the runners passed literally under my balcony, so I naturally set my alarm and cheered Killian the winner as he passed underneath. Killian looked fresh as a daisy after 80km! My original crampons were made from railway rails! They were maybe made from Krups railway rails, Krups made the best steel, as witnessed by all the lads who died in the wars! Walter was the only person apart from me who could lift a 280lb piece in one hand! Walter of-course used to walk around with it as part of work and not showing off as a trial of strength. I can’t pick that piece of steel up any more! I tilt it on my back sometimes and do a few squats after a few hours running and then have a beer. One of Walters sons has a climbing shop in Courmayeur, and they hire ski and winter stuff out under the lift, be sure to do some business with them because they are part of the mountain scene, and I like the family. The day the photo was taken was a Courmayeur day, blue, and people doing mountain stuff, mainly blackberry picking, but it was also the day Walter Bonatti died, a friend of Walter and a big climbing buddy of my boss Gioachino Gobbi dad’s Tony. I have soloed a lot of Bonatti routes and they have been some of my best days in the mountains. Anyway Walter thanks for my first pair of crampons, forged by an expert, a forger of young mans dreams and aspirations, a true man of iron.