Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger plan Gasherbrum double traverse in winter

Tamara Lunger (l.) and Simone Moro

The 33-year-old South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger and the 52-year-old Italian Simone Moro follow in the footsteps of Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander. In summer 1984, 35 years ago, the South Tyrolean Messner and Kammerlander had written alpine history in the Karakoram in Pakistan, when they had traversed the eight-thousanders Gasherbrum II (8,034 meters) and Gasherbrum I (8,080 meters): in Alpine style, in one push, i.e. without descending – a pioneering act that has not been repeated on these two eight-thousanders to this day. The Spaniards Alberto Inurrategi, Juan Vallejo and Mikel Zabalza last failed in 2016 and 2017 in attempting the double traverse oft he Gasherbrum summits. “We raise the bar on it,“ says Simone Moro, „daring both eight-thousand meter peaks including the crossing as a winter expedition.“

In the climate chamber

Tamara during an examination in Bolzano

In mid-December Lunger and Moro want to leave for Pakistan. Before that, the two acclimatize in a way that is unusual for them:  The professional climbers are “guinea pigs” for a scientific study of the private institute Eurac Research in Bolzano. The first phase is already as good as behind Simone and Tamara. In the past two weeks, they trained outside the institute and then spent the nights in “terraXcube”. In this hypobaric chamber extreme external conditions can be simulated, e.g. thin air and extreme cold like on an eight-thousander. 

In the second phase, which begins on Friday, Moro and Lunger also shift their training to the chamber: using a treadmill and a bicycle ergometer. The goal is to achieve a good acclimatization up to an altitude of about 6,400 meters. The scientists in Bolzano are hoping to gain new insights into the physiological processes of acclimatization, how long the adaptation to the high altitude lasts and how exactly the de-acclimatisation takes place. The two mountaineers will also undergo numerous medical examinations after their winter expedition in the Karakoram.

Well-rehearsed winter team

Blood sample from Simone (r.)

Simone Moro is the only climber to achieve four first winter ascents of eight-thousanders: Shishapangma (in 2005 with the Polish Piotr Morawski), Makalu (in 2009 with the Kazakh Denis Urubko), Gasherbrum II (in 2011 with Urubko and the American Cory Richards) and Nanga Parbat (in 2016 with the Spaniard Alex Txikon and the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”).

Moro and Tamara Lunger had then set off together for Nanga Parbat. The South Tyrolean had to turn around only 70 meters below the summit because she was in a very bad way. One year earlier, in winter 2015, Simone and Tamara failed on the eight-thousander Manaslu due to the masses of snow. In 2018, the duo managed the first winter ascent of the 3,003-metre-high Gora Pobeda (also called Pik Pobeda) in the ice-cold east of Siberia at temperatures around minus 50 degrees Celsius. “Our experience with winter ascents will definitely be helpful,” says Moro with a view to the upcoming Gasherbrum I and II project.

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