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Silvio hits hard times
image story



May 25, 2005 22: 15 EST
Silvio “Gnaro” Mondinelli is back at home, recovering from the shock of losing a friend on Annapurna. However, he won’t have much time to mourn. Sponsors are pressuring him to climb, and his plans to head to Nanga Parbat have suddenly changed. Broad Peak now seems the likely destination early this summer.

Mondinelli’s attempt on Annapurna’s North Side was complicated from the get-go (fixing the route, poor conditions, turning around on the summit day), and ended in tragedy: Christian Kuntner was hit by a falling serac two weeks ago. Silvio was climbing a few meters ahead and came away unharmed. He ran down to help his mates and organize the evacuation, mostly through his wife, Idel, in Italy.

The first emergency call requested an urgent helicopter rescue, as Christian was seriously injured. Twenty minutes later, Silvio called again with the worst possible news: The helicopter need not hurry. Kuntner had passed away in their tent.

In that state of mind, he just couldn’t go to Lhotse

“It was such bad luck… The serac hit them before they reached the fixed ropes… It was fate, what else can I say,” explained Idel to ExplorersWeb. “‘Gnaro’ escorted the injured climbers and Christian’s body back to Kathmandu. In that state of mind, he just couldn’t go to Lhotse. The weather conditions were poor, but the main reason is that his mind wouldn’t be focused on the climb, after all that suffering.”

Broad Peak instead of Nanga

However, more changes in plans awaited Silvio when he got home. The Spanish “Al Filo” team wasn’t counting on him for Nanga Parbat, so Gnaro decided to switch mountains and attempt Broad Peak. If everything goes fine and he summits, he’ll head to Nanga afterwards.

What Gnaro doesn’t know yet is who he’ll be climbing with. One of his Annapurna climbing mates, Mario Merelli, also plans to climb Broad, as part of an Italian team from the prestigious ‘Ragni di Lecco’ (Lecco Spiders) club. However, the Ragni team plans to open a new route on Broad, and this is a luxury Mondinelli can’t afford right now.

Summit or bust

Their proposed route is difficult and dangerous, thus summit chances are scarce. Silvio needs to optimize his chance of reaching the top. He has already “wasted” two climbing permits – those issued for Annapurna and Lhotse – and his sponsors would like to hear some good news, according to Idel.

Gnaro will leave for Pakistan on June 14th, and he hopes to have found a suitable climbing team by then.

Silvio Mondinelli was born in Gardone (Italy) in 1958. Since beginning climbing at 18 years old, he has completed major climbs all over the world, including nine 8000ers: Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Everest, GI, GII, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Kangchenjunga and K2, plus Shisha Pangma’s central summit.

Silvio hoped to attempt the five 8000ers he has not yet summited this year. However, his main goal was Annapurna, which he attempted as the leader of an Italian team. The climbers were first to get to the mountain and fixed the entire route. His work made it possible for American Ed Viesturs and Finnish climber Gustafsson to launch their own summit bid. Three Italians summited as well, but Silvio had to turn around.

Image of Silvio in Annapurna’s BC this season, courtesy of Silvio Mondinelli.






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