He traversed toward the voice, and came to a shattered pillar bulging out across the face. He stepped onto the pillar, only partially supported by the cable, which had assumed a sort of J shape as it followed him on a level course. About 60 feet away he spotted a man in a half-sitting, half-lying position on a narrow ledge pitched with a small red tent. Hellepart shouted, "Who are you? Are you Mayer or Nothdurft?"
The voice came back: "Italiano." When Hellepart was six or seven feet from the Italian, the man called, "Mangiare! Something to eat!" Hellepart tossed him a frozen half bar of black, hard chocolate. The Italian did not even pause to remove the wrapper. He rammed the chocolate into his mouth and began to chew.
Hellepart could traverse the remaining few feet of the pillar, but only at increasing risk to himself, since he no longer dangled straight down from the cable. And if he reached the Italian in this manner he would be unable to make the rescue: the two men could not traverse back across the rubble. "Take me up," Hellepart called to the summit. "I am going to look for another route."
A hard jerk of the cable yanked him off the pillar and out into space. Spinning in midair, he fought to turn himself toward the wall so that he could take up the shock of the return impact with his legs. He had barely succeeded in twisting around when he crashed into the wall feet first. "All right," said Hellepart, "haul me straight up. I will tell you when to stop." Up he went, inches at a time, for 150 feet, and then set himself into a slow swing until he was able to grab a jutting rock straight above the Italian. "Now let me down," he instructed. As he descended a sheer gully, stones began to shake loose, and he shouted to the Italian to take cover. Finally he dropped the last few feet onto the ledge, and called triumphantly to the summit: "I am with the Italian."
It was 9:15, and he had been on the wall for more than an hour. The Italian gave him his name, Claudio Corti, and Hellepart reported it to the summit. Friedli asked where the others were. Hellepart said to Corti: "Where is Longhi? Where is Mayer? Where is Nothdurft?"
Corti pointed down the mountain. The two men leaned over the edge and called, but there was no response. Corti's knees were trembling and Hellepart ordered him to sit down and gave him coffee from a thermos. He looked at Corti's scarred hand and bloodied head and decided that the Italian's condition was too poor to permit him to attempt to climb to the top on a separate cable. He radioed to the summit for an Italian-speaking man to take the radio and explain the situation to Corti. Riccardo Cassin's voice came on. He knew Corti well as a member of the climbing club of Lecco of which Cassin was president. Hellepart handed the speaking mechanism to Corti, who seemed befuddled by it and nervously pushed the wrong buttons. Finally contact was established.
"Rispondi, Claudio," Cassin's voice said. "This is Cassin. Now listen to me: you have not the strength to get up by yourself. Watch how he shows you how to get up on his shoulders! Try everything to make it easy for your rescuer! Drink something when he gives you to drink. Remember you are safe. Do not lose your spirit!" Hellepart took back the radio as the last words of Cassin crackled through the earphones: "Coraggio, Claudio, coraggio!"
Hellepart packed Corti's rucksack, strapped it on the other man's back, and began lacing him into the back-pack harness, called a Gramminger-Sitz, that Ludwig Gramminger had long before designed for hauling injured climbers to safety. Hellepart sat down with his back to Corti and pulled the harnesses around his own chest and up over his shoulders. Bearing all this uncomfortable weight, he struggled to his feet and snapped the cable in place. All these exhausting preparations had taken Hellepart nearly an hour. "We are ready," he said to the summit. It was 10 o'clock.
Back came Friedli's voice, "We have been rearranging the equipment. It will take us a few minutes more." Hellepart sat down with his heavy load. Finally the signal came. "We bring you up now," Friedli called. "Prepare yourself."
Hellepart wrenched himself into a standing position, but still the cable hung slack above him. "What's the matter?" he called to the summit.