On Sunday, 16 April, he managed to complete a historic feat: he set off around one o'clock in the morning from Genoa's Voltri beach, zero metres above sea level, cycled for about seven hours, then stopped for about twenty minutes at Orsia, at the foot of Monte Rosa, to change his set-up and put on his skis.
Five hours of ski mountaineering completed with ice crampons on his feet before the dream, that Capanna Margherita that seemed like paradise to him.
"Too cold, too much effort, too much adrenalin: I was crying with joy, I was trembling, I was overjoyed," he says a few hours after the feat, while he is still recovering physical and mental energy.
But let's go in order. Marcello Ugazio was born in 1996 in the province of Novara. He now lives between Galliate and Crodo, where he pursues his passion for sport. He is very strong on the bike and he excels in trail running (particularly in the vertical discipline), so much so that he has joined the SCARPA team.
He is a man of adventure and loves to try breaking the Fastest Known Time (FKT) that excites him the most. In August 2021 he had already challenged Monte Rosa: first by bike and then by running. On that occasion, he stopped the stopwatch at 11 hours and 48 minutes, beating the time of Francesco Surace (13 hours and 34′), who a few months earlier (in June) had broken the record held until then by Nico Valsesia (14 hours and 18′).
That was not enough for him and he tried his hand at the 'winter' version of the ascent over a distance of 242 kilometres and 5,500 metres of altitude difference: first the bike, then the skis and the mountaineering approach.
His adventure began, as usual, on his bike. He started with his eyes looking at the sea, in Genoa. Then he cycled to Passo del Turchino, Ovada, Alessandria, Casale Monferrato, Vercelli, Santhià, Ivrea, Pont San Martin, to finally arrive in Gressoney for a total of 226 kilometres and 2,700 metres of altitude difference. "I was hoping for better weather, but instead there was a tremendous cold wind whistling against us and a constant fog," says the athlete, who in this first stretch had been followed by a car that helped him with his nutrition. The sun at that point was beginning to make the night milky.
Exactly 6 hours and 59 minutes from the start, there was Orsia.
'Here I changed and refreshed myself, I want to thank for the logistical support Marina Cugnetto who hosted me,' he says. In his heart, however, there was no serenity in those moments. "From that point you could see the peaks of Monte Rosa, I was hoping for sunshine. Instead there was fog and clouds, I feared the weather would prevent us from goign up. On the other hand, resting for a few minutes and changing my set-up gave me new energy". 2,800 metres of altitude difference spread over 16 kilometres awaited him.
Fear is not a feeling that goes with someone who wants to be the fastest man in the world to climb from the sea to the roof of the Swiss Alps in the shortest possible time. And so it was off, at breakneck speed on the track that the athletes also experience during the epic Mezzalama until the arrival of the first section leading to the Passo dei Salati (Lake Gabiet), from there relentlessly towards the Orestes Hut, the Aquila Canal and the Rifugio Mantova.
This was another decisive moment in his adventure. A thousand metres of altitude difference were missing, the peaks could not be seen because of the clouds, it was cold and fear threatened to complicate the venture. "For a moment, I was afraid I wouldn't make it," said Marcello, who had his objective clear in his head: the last ascent, to beat Nico Valsesia, who took 14 hours and 31 minutes in 2018.
Here is the Col del Lys, and finally the Capanna Margherita. In the last stretch, the SCARPA team athlete was accompanied by two other friends. But to make the last effort, fifty metres in height difference, it was necessary to take the skis off his feet and put on crampons. Sharp ice, a risk for any hiker, let alone one who had set off the night before from Genoa.
Nothing could stop him now:
Ugazio stopped the timer at 12 hours, 19 minutes and 36 seconds, two hours and twelve minutes less than the previous record.
"I burst into tears, I was so tired and cold that I didn't even remember to take the finish video,' he smiles, the day after the achievment. He says he is good, that he thought he had at least caught a cold. But nothing, his body is as strong as his mind.