On 8,125-meter-high Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, two of the mountain’s three first winter ascenders, Spaniard Alex Txikon and Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” , are currently searching for the two missing climbers Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard. The 42-year-old Italian and the 30-year-old Briton had last signed up from the “Mummery Rib” at an altitude of 6300 meters on 24 February. The hope of finding them alive is fading.
The third winter ascender of Nanga Parbat in 2016, Simone Moro, is staying in his home country Italy after his return from Nepal. The 51-year-old and his Nepalese climbing partner Pemba Gyalje Sherpa surrendered to the huge masses of snow on the eight-thousander Manaslu at the end of January. I had sent Simone some questions before the events in Nanga Parbat took their dramatic turn. Among other things, I asked him about the chances of the teams on K2 and Nanga Parbat. Moro replied with reference to the current developments on Nanga Parbat as follows:
The Mummery Spur is a famous, beautiful and historical route but it is suicidal. I spent one year of my life at Nanga Parbat and that route had been hit by avalanches constantly, permanently… I’m so sad for Daniele and Tom really, but it was predictable what could easily happen there.
And here are Simone’s s answers to my other questions:
You’re nicknamed “Winter Maestro”. You succeeded the first winter ascents of four eight-thousanders (Shishapangma in 2005, Makalu in 2009, Gasherbrum II in 2011 and Nanga Parbat in 2016). While others sit comfortably in front of the fireplace, you are regularly drawn to the highest mountains in the world. Why actually?
Because I’m still fascinated for the vertical exploration and cutting edge climb, looking for the solitude! The best way to have both is to go in winter when none is around.
For the second time since 2015, you have had to flee Manaslu in winter because of the masses of snow. Do you think, it was your last winter attempt on this eight-thousander?
I don’t think so. I’m still so passionate and in good shape that would be a shame to stop too early. 🙂
Denis Urubko, with whom you were en route on your first winter ascents of Makalu and Gasherbrum II, takes the view that winter ascents should only be counted as such if they are completed by the end of February. Do you share this view?
It is a so stupid declaration that I don’t want even spend one second more in telling him what I always said. Since ever all the winter climbs ever done on the mountains considered the astronomical winter the only to be respected to declare a winter climb.
Now that only K2 is still missing he wants to change the rules. When he was with me he never told those things. Now he understood that it is more convenient to change the rule to open again some games on 8000ers and cancel the epic water ascent on Broad peak and G1. For me it is not a problem, I did all my winter climbs in full winter, but what he declares is very unrespectful with Polish and all climbing community.
Meanwhile on K2, the team of Kazakh expedition leader Vassiliy Pivtsov set up their Camp today at about 7,000 meters on the Southeast Ridge. The wind was too strong to climb further up as planned. The Sherpas from Alex Txikon’s team also stopped their ascent prematurely at Camp 1 at around 6,100 meters, Russianclimb reported. Pawel Dunaj, the last of previously three Polish members, has left Txikon’s K2 winter expedition. Pawel suffered from frostbite on his face and fingers. Before him Waldemar Kowalewski (who had been hit by a stone or block of ice on his collarbone) and Marek Klonowski (who had heart problems) had already returned home.