Tito Claudio Traversa was a young Italian climber who tragically fell to his death while sport climbing in France. Even though he was only twelve years old, he had accomplished many great feats and had a bright future in rock climbing. For example, Traversa climbed his first 5.13b at only eight years old (Faith), and sent his first 5.14a at age 10. A few days prior to his death he ticked his fourth 5.14a with Pablo Diretta at Gravere.
He was already proving to be a rock climbing prodigy, but the world will never know what he could have progressed to. He passed away on July 5th, 2013, after a climbing accident in France. While we will never know what his future held, we do know that he was a young boy who was filled with passion and talent, and that he was strong, generous, and kind.
Seriously Injured in Climbing Fall
While climbing in Orpierre, France, Tito Traversa fell to the ground and was quickly rushed to a local hospital, where he was fighting for his life. Initially, there wasn’t much information available publicly besides that Tito was in serious condition at Grenoble hospital. News stories here and there hinted at some type of equipment failure, but no one knew what really happened.
Some details slowly came to light, including that the twelve year old climbing prodigy had fallen from a height of about 15 meters because of incorrect positioning of the rubber stops on a carabiner. At the time, this video was going around to illustrate what could have possibly happened with the equipment.
After a three day fight for his life, Tito succumbed to his injuries and passed away on July 5, 2013. His parents wrote, “Our little big Tito is now an Angel and he gave his organs to let other kids live. Forever in his mum’s and dad’s heart.”
Report Reveals Cause of Accident
A report from Grimper Magazine released the first factual information about Tito’s cause of death, noting that the investigation was still ongoing. Grimper did release a photo (courtesy of the French police – see below) to show the orientation of the quickdraw and string to illustrate the error, hoping that the information could help prevent future accidents. You can see the photos below, noting that the plastic thong is placed wrong in one photo and correct in the other.
Tito was handed the incorrectly assembled quickdraws by the mother of another climber and he used them on his route. When he leaned back to be lowered after his successful 5.10 warmup, all the quickdraws broke besides the lower few, which were too low to protect him from the ground.
In August of 2013, Italian authorities launched an investigation into the accident.
Manslaughter Charges Filed After Tito’s Accident
At this point, more details had come to light, including information that Tito fell from approximately fifty feet (15m) and that eight of his ten quickdraws were improperly attached and assembled. Raffaele Guariniello, a public prosecutor, opened a case against five people after a complaint by Tito’s father.
The five parties that were charged were the owner of the company that produced the rubber keeper, the owner of the climbing gear shop who sold the rubber keepers, the manager of the climbing club that organized the trip, and the two instructors who were on the climbing site. A sixth person, a relative of a girl who lent the equipment to Tito, was still under investigation.
Three Will Face Trial For Death of Tito Traversa
More than two years later in December of 2015, it was reported that three people would go to trial and face charges of manslaughter. The three people are as follows:
- Luca Giammarco – legal representative of the company, Bside, which organized the climbing trip.
- Nicola Galicia was one of the climbing instructors.
- Carlo Paglioli – legal representative of Aludesign, the company that designed the rubber keeper. They allegedly didn’t include adequate instructions in the packaging for the quick draws.
In May of 2018, the unofficial climbing instructor Nicola Galizia, 36, was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Tito. He was sentenced to two years in prison and was forced to pay judicial expenses amounting over 21,000 Euros. Because it was his first offense, he would not have to serve his prison sentence.
The owner of the climbing school and the company who produced the small part of the equipment were absolved.