Paralympic athlete and Osprey Ambassador Moreno Pesce has had a passion for the mountains since childhood, finding solace and joy in their majestic presence. His life took an unexpected turn when he faced the amputation of his leg following a motorcycle crash, however, despite this challenge, Moreno refused to let his disability define him.
Instead, he embarked on a remarkable journey, rediscovering his love for the mountains and pushing his limits, and through his perseverance, has become a beacon of inspiration for the entire Vertical racing scene, and those facing life-altering changes.
In this blog, we delve into Moreno’s extraordinary story, tracing his path from uncertainty to triumph.
A bet that I won
Since I was a child, I used to go to the mountains to walk with my parents. Then growing up I moved away, but the passion remained. It was a bet that I won, to return to the mountains after the amputation. Life in the open air brings me closer to the environment and breeds positivity. Being outdoors and taking part in sports helps people, regardless of whether you are disabled or not. The mind, the body and the soul need these sensations.
Every single day, I know that when I wake up, I will be faced with the task of doing a handstand facing a flight of stairs, navigating the irregular incline of a sidewalk, or dealing with muscle contractions. But the important thing is to smile at the challenge that life poses, because I’m lucky to still be able to live it, gathering a lot of smiles around me.
I was reborn when I finally realised that the only difference now is that I’m just a little slower when I run or walk. And, having accepted that I need crutches to walk, I am not ashamed to use them. In fact, I’m proud of it. They have become my travel companions.
During a week’s holiday in Val di Fassa, together with my current partner Antonellaand a dear friend, we took on the main path of the mountains for the first time, with the help of my inseparable crutches. It was a success, which over the years, has turned into a Vertical challenge! I may be a little “crazy” but every time I reach a new peak, I’m proud of what I have achieved.
A fascination for mountaineering
As an able-bodied person, I was afraid of mountaineering. I was fascinated by it, but I never dared.However after the amputation, the mountains, with their formidable and unapproachable environment, became a symbol of the difficulties that disabled amputee encounters along their life journey.It was a wise and patient Lio De Nes who took me by the hand and led me towards my new mountaineering goal. I can’t say it was easy to “trust” the rope with 70 meters of emptiness below, but the feeling of arriving at the top of Mount Paterno in 2016 was liberating!
I climbed the awe-inspiring Cima Grande di Lavaredo in Auronzo di Cadore (BL) in the same year. This peak is a constant presence in my daily life, visible right from my front door. Words fail to capture the overwhelming emotions I experienced when I reached the top!
The most difficult challenge I have faced is the climb to the top of Marmolada. At 3,343 metres, the “Queen of the Dolomites” is the highest summit of the range. A double mechanical failure of the prosthesis, the breaking of one crutch and the consequent physical problems along the way characterisedmy ascent to the main peak, Punta Penia. But, I succeeded! Afterwards, I spent 15 days in total rest and was unable to use the prosthesis due to the sores that had appeared.
Vertical racing and me
My Vertical races are a challenge with myself…and with no one else. I remember well my first time in Kitzbühel, where after a long period of preparation and anticipation for the event, I managed to reach the top of the Streif, exhausted but euphoric. It was an opportunity that allowed me to meet many people, with whom I shared all my doubts and fears. But that didn’t discourage me from tackling the entire tour, climbing some of the most renowned slopes in the World Cup circuit. It was incredible for me to be able to complete it. I never thought, not being a skier by personal choice, that I would be able to ski uphill on the snow. It was a hell of a run!
Every race has its story, every slope its magic. The most intriguing challenge is the one I have yet to start. I look beyond, searching for what I have never experienced.
I hope that in the future there will be more disabled people in these races. I have managed to complete both national and international Trail and Vertical races, but the most significant thing has been reaching the finish line together with other disabled individuals on several occasions. On one of these occasions, Team3Gambe was born. This too has become a new challenge.
Tackling Europe’s Highest Race
In June 2023 I led a team of other athletes with artificial limbs and sensory disability – Cesare Galli, Loris Miloni, Luca Mazzola and Fabia Cossutta – to climb the route of the Monte Rosa SkyMarathon®. Our mission was to help break down the psychological mountain of disability by tackling the real mountains and showing what can be achieved. The project – known as AMA-Bilmente 2023 – followed the same route as Europe’s highest race, up to the Capanna Margherita at 4,554m on Monte Rosa.
Stepping out of our comfort zones to try to overcome our limits was already a success. However, the team’s goal was to advance as much as possible and we can all be satisfied because 5 out of 5 disabled people successfully climbed over the 4000 m threshold.
Inspiring others to achieve
In addition to attempting new challenges and reaching other peaks in Italy with personal and group projects, my goal is to bring out that same force that made me start living again in every person who may think of giving up because something in their life has changed irreversibly.
I love it when people ask me for advice, it’s a source of pride for me, because I feel like my experiences are useful. The spirit is always the same: limits exist only in the minds of people, and it is our task to try to break them down with our achievements.
I believe that you are not disabled because you don’t have a bodily function, but because you don’t use all the other talents available to achieve your dream. Limits are only in people’s minds, and we have the task of trying to break them down with our achievements. The important thing is to take the first step by making the decision to “try”. Just believe it, all the way.