Simone Moro talks ticking off the first winter ascents of 8000ers

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 14/03/2016
On the summit of Nanga Parbat. Photo: Simone Moro Archive
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Seracs, storms, brutal cold and ... bragging about love-making skills at basecamp? Italian alpinist Simone Moro has just climbed Nanga Parbat with Alex Txikon (Spain), Ali Sadpara (Pakistan) and Tamara Lunger (Italy). It's his fourth first winter ascent of an 8000er. Simone talks what it's like up there, and why his wife's dream will keep him off K2, the only one of the world's fourteen 8000m peaks that still hasn't been climbed in winter.

Temperatures down to minus 40 during the day and winds up to 50km/hour: there are good reasons why 30 expeditions failed to make the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest mountain (8126m) over the past 30 years. 

In fact Simone Moro, who is something of an expert, having claimed the first winter ascents of three other 8000ers - Shisha Pangma (8027m), Makalu (8463m), and Gasherbrum II (8035m) - had tried and failed twice before to add Nanga Parbat to his haul. Success at last.

Unfortunately his teammate Tamara Lunger had to stop metres shy of making the first female ascent of Nanga Parbat in winter due to illness, but perhaps enjoyed the moments of solitude after two months in base camp with three men.

Simone Moro comments on his blog: "No problem for Tamara in managing relationships with all those elements of the opposite sex. In fact, only one, she admits: the repetitiveness of their speeches, focussing, she says laughing, almost on a single theme, their amatory skills..."

The Italian contingent of the expedition: Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger

 

SM: On summiting Nanga Parbat I reflected that it was not only a difficult time, but also a historical time in comparison to my previous three winter climbs. As I was the first person to attempt to climb Nanga Parbat in winter and therefore will be the only person ever to do this. Also I am the only person in the world to have ever made four first winter ascents of 8000m peaks in history, and as K2 is the only mountain left to climb in winter, so I will retain this title.

The most difficult part was acclimatising to the weather conditions, as I set up my camp so low. I ended up deciding to fix my final camp at 7100m, which meant scaling over 1000m in a single final push at night. This was an enormous leap to make during the final ascent, but one I knew I could make.

 Adapting to the climate and ascending without oxygen was difficult and also increased the chances of getting frostbite significantly. Because of this I had to change my strategy and ascend as quickly as I could. Conditions there can drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius during the day, and winds can pick up to over 50km/hour.

Nanga Parbat is the biggest mountain on the planet, not in terms of height but actual size. You could fit two K2s or 2 Everests inside Nanga Parbat. Nanga Parbat was the hardest climb I have completed out of the four between 2005 and 2016.  To do the four climbs has taken 10 years of my life and has been a difficult and extreme thing to do.

I do not have my eye on K2, as my wife had a dream that I would die while climbing it in winter. I do not want to test if she is correct or not, so I have decided not to climb it.

 

READ: First winter ascent of Gasherbrum II (2011)

READ: Makalu climbed in winter at last (2009)


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