Top winter mountaineer in the world, Italian Simone Moro has hinted a possible attempt of the last and the most challenging K2. If undertaken successfully, this will be his fifth winter 8000er. Moro was speaking on the book launch “Siberia -71°” which narrates his first winter ascent of 3003m Pik Pobeda, the highest mountain in the Arctic Siberia. Partnering with his trusted companion Tamara Lunger, the duo reached top of the summit on February 12 this year.
Moro’s rigid stance of not attempting K2 in winters is widely known among the climbing circles. In an interview with Pakistan Explorer at the Diamir Base Camp 2016, Moro had categorically rejected any possibility of climbing K2 in winters citing his wife’s dream as the main reason. During the book launching ceremony, however, Moro jokingly said “but even dreams expire”.
Moro has four winter 8000ers to his credit which also holds as the world record. He is closely contested by Polish climbers Kryzsztof Wielecki and Adam Bielecki both having three 8000ers to their accounts. Apart from the statistics and with no fewer than 15 winter expeditions that he has been a part of, Moro is the most experienced winter climber in the world.
The 51-year-old has not yet unveiled any plans of a possible attempt of K2 but if he decides to attempt K2 for the first winter ascent, it can dramatically change the game with multitude of nations vying to be at the top. K2 is also commonly known as the Italian summit more because the first ascent of the mountain was carried out by the Italians.
K2 has seen four strong winter attempts to this date including the pioneering attempt by Polish Andrezja Zawada 1987-88, Winter Expedition 2002-03, Russian National Expedition 2011-12 and the last Polish National K2 Winter Expedition 2017-18. None of the four expeditions were able to cross the 8000m threshold on the Savage Mountain.
Three climbing permits for K2 have been issued by the Pakistani Government for the winter climbing 2018-19. It is yet to be seen which of the three confirmed expeditions make it to the K2 Base Camp.
Two climbing permits have been issued for K2 in winters 2018-19 while one permit, reportedly, is pending for Nanga Parbat. Pakistan received several strong expeditions in the summers of 2018 with more than two dozen summit successes on K2 and several heroic high altitude rescues by the Pakistan Army Aviation pilots.
K2 stands as the ultimate challenge for the mountaineers around the world as the only 8000er which has never been scaled in winters. The giant granite spire has received four strong expeditions to-date but none of them have been successful. The highest altitude achieved was 7900m via the Abruzzi spur by the Russians in 2012-13.
Spaniard Alex Txikon is gearing up for his first winter attempt of K2 for which he has already been issued a climbing permit by Pakistani authorities. However, it is still not clear whether Txikon will decide in favor of K2 or will go back to Everest for first winter ascent of the highest mountain on earth without supplementary Oxygen.
Txikon planned his first attempt for K2 in winters back in 2014 alongside Denis Urubko and Adam Bielecki from the Chinese side but they were refused a permit by the Chinese authorities. Txikon is well versed with the Pakistani mountains and holds a strong resume for being the first winter summiteer of the ninth highest Nanga Parbat in 2016. Will he be partnering with his Nanga partner Ali Sadpara again or not is still to be seen.
Also in the neighborhood will be the strong multinational expedition comprising of climbers from Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The expedition will be led by the 14x8000er summiteer Kazakh Vassily Pivtsov and the expedition will be organized by Russian strong climber Artem Brown. The expedition is still looking for sponsors to cover the mammoth expense of the expedition but they have already been granted the permit by the Pakistani authorities.
Nanga Parbat Winters
Reliving the legend of Tomek Mackiewicz, Daniel Nardi will be attempting Nanga Parbat in the high Himalayas of Pakistan for the fifth time, although these are not his consecutive attempts. Pitching for his favorite and the still unclimbed Mummery route, Nardi will be joined by Englishman Tom Ballard who will be opening up his account for the first 8000er of his career. Ballard and Nardi attempted Link Sar in the recent summers and were able to reach camp-3 before abandoning the expeditions in wake of deteriorating weather. Nardi is also the only one who has been successful in negotiating the Mummery Rib reaching as high as 6500m but later had to descend. His last venture on Nanga was back in 2016 when he was partnering with Alex Txikon but he left the expedition due to disagreement with the partners.