HAMILTON — Known throughout the Bitterroot as the Montana Mountain Goat, Mario Locatelli has done more in his life than most people ever dream of accomplishing. Even today, the 88-year-old still finds the strength to climb a makeshift rock wall in his Hamilton home.
His stories have made local newspapers for years, you’ve probably heard of him for a number of reasons, and now as he writes his fourth book, we wanted to stop in and hear some of these stories in person.
Tucked away on Mountain Goat Road, Locatelli spends his days walking, rock climbing, and reminiscing on 88 ½ years of his incredible life. “I was born December 21st, 1932, next December I’ll be 89, where the heck does the time go? But I think positive, and I feel good."
Don’t be fooled, beneath that thick Italian accent, you’re looking at the face of an American Dream. Born and raised in the town of Berbenno, Italy, Locatelli’s upbringing is something out of a storybook. The angry father always trying to make a quick buck, the caring mother, and enough siblings to line one side of the gridiron.
With dual citizenship, Locatelli sailed to the US when he was 12 years old -- a chance for a new life. And when the opportunities came, he seized them.
From scaling Mount Denali in Alaska, to raising nearly $30,000 for charity, working for search and rescue, breaking records, and writing books -- each moment in time is perfectly preserved in newspaper clippings scattered throughout his home.
A favorite memory of his to share with visitors is about his run-in with an avalanche. "1981 I was caught in an avalanche, and I saved my friend’s life, and I had my wallet in my pocket, matches in my pocket, and I finally got a fire going with $3 bills."
As you might imagine, that’s merely one tale of many. After all, you don’t earn a name like Mountain Goat without accomplishing a mountain’s worth of goals. Nearing 90, Locatelli still has plenty to achieve -- like releasing his fourth book titled “From Italy to Hamilton.” It’s a testament to the American dream.
“A lot of people tell me I’m an inspiration and that makes me feel good, to be able to help someone in need, ya know,” Locatelli told MTN News. “I guess as you get older you get very emotional, but I had a great life.”
It’s a great life not even close to reaching its final chapter.
Locatelli has too many stories for one quick news article so, if you want to learn more about his extraordinary life, he’s written three books already and has another one on the way. You can find them in various bookstores throughout the Bitterroot.