The silent aces of Annapurna: Blanc and Kuntner going for final|
Mar 11, 2005 18: 31 EST
Italian Abele Blanc and Western Tyrolean Christian Kuntner will climb Annapurna’s north side together this spring. If they succeed, they both will have completed the 14 8000ers!
The news has been confirmed by long time friend Silvio Mondinelli, who will also attempt Annapurna and probably join forces with Blanc and Kuntner.
The accomplished climbers are not so well known among the international climbing community, never mind the general media. There is a reason: Both Kuntner and Blanc are rather shy. They avoid widely advertised expeditions and big media fuss.
The silent companion
Like Messner, Kuntner, 43, was born in Stelvio meadows (South Tyrol) and might soon share the exclusive club of climbers that have summited the 14, 8000ers. But while Messner has become a world-wide famous mountaineering star, Kuntner rejects the notion of being a climbing celebrity (or even talking to journalists).
On the rare occasion that he has gone on record, he’s used as few words as possible. He muttered to an Ansa.it journalist last week, “I climb for myself, not for anyone else. I don’t have anything to prove.”
Christian has joined different climbing mates throughout his career (from Polish aces Wanda Rutkiewicz and Krzysztof Wielicki to friends Marco Bianchi and Stephan Andres) until he met Abele in 1999. They summited both Gasherbrums together. Since then, the reserved Tyrolean seems to have found a perfect climbing partner with whom he shares an appreciation of silence and the pure, raw mountain environment.
Abele Blanc, the alpine chevalier
Although shy, Abele Blanc has an aura of old-time chivalry about him. Mountain guide by heart and breed – he was born in Aosta Valley, at the foot of Mont Blanc – his character is similar to those described in the old, epic mountaineering novels from the first half of the twentieth century about heroic mountain guides in the Alps. On his website, he introduces himself:
“I'm Abele Blanc, I'm 48 and I have got the most wonderful job in the world: Mountain Guide. Mine is that time-honored, classic mountaineering, with its passion and love for the silence of the mountains. Stay with me and I'll take you to the heart of the Himalayas and other splendid mountains.”
And he does, indeed. His online diary is full of deep impressions and beautiful descriptions of the experiences he lives and the places he’s passed through.
Kuntner has climbed all 8000ers without supplementary O2 or Sherpa support. Abele Blanc has summited all but Everest and Kangchenjunga without bottled oxygen. They attempted Annapurna south face through the south side in 2003. Kuntner attempted it in 2002 as well.
However, high Himalayan Mountains are not the pair’s only passion. In 2002, they climbed 64 of the Alp’s 84, 4000ers. Bad weather conditions prevented them from climbing them all, but Christian expects to finish the call this summer.
Abele Blanc summited his 13th 8000er, Dhaulagiri, in 2001. Christian Kuntner summited Lhotse on the 15th of May, 2004. This spring they will join forces again to attempt Annapurna through the North Side, and thus complete the 14 8000ers’ list.
Image of Abele Blanc (left) and Christian Kuntner (right), courtesy of Christiankuntner.com