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Shisha Pangma WINTER 2004-2005
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Nov 2, 2004 17: 10 EST
The biggest event of this winter is coming up in only 3 weeks time. Departure is set for November 29, for the first virgin winter ascent of an 8000er since 1988! Here's Simone's message:

"Winter is back and I am off once again to face the ascent of an 8000 meter peak. Last January, at the beginning of 2004, only 300 vertical meters stopped us from achieving the first historical winter ascent of Shisha Pangma’s 8027 meters in the Himalayas.

Almost there last year

Piotr Morawski and I were almost positive that we had reached the summit after being the first to climb the difficult south face along the un-repeated “Corredor Girona” route, opened by the Spaniards in 1995. But the word “almost” characterized the final epilogue.

The history of the mountain linked with the end of our story

With temperatures of minus 52° and the late hour of the day (3.30pm) we would have been left with little chance of survival after the 90 minutes of day light left before nightfall. We would have surely managed to reach the summit but the history of the mountain would have been forever linked with the end of our story. An overnight bivouac would have been devastating for our bodies already frozen and at the mercy of the wind on the summit ridge.

A desire to make the dream come true

We accepted the defeat sportingly, even if still satisfied with the first winter ascent of the south face. The following winter is now arriving and so is the will to re-launch the project and make the dream come true.

It is the same people as last time: Piotr, Darek, Jan, Jazek and I. The face is the same, so is the summit. We still have not decided which route to climb, and we will decide this depending on the weather and the conditions of the face.

The true winter Calendar

No oxygen, no Sherpa, no other expedition present on the mountain. The mountaineering phases will start after the 21st December to honestly respect the beginning of “winter” according to the season’s calendar.

The group will leave end of November to undertake an acclimatization trek in Nepal and we will then move to Tibet, and subsequently to base camp between the second and third week of December.

We are convinced that it is possible

We will take cameras and video cameras with us to capture the sequences and images of this second attempt and we pray for the same meteorological conditions as last year.

With different tactics we are convinced that it is possible to reach the top and finally the summit of this 8000 meter peak which still awaits a winter ascent. As well as Shisha, even Makalu, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II, Broad Peak and K2 await first ascents in the colder and “unpopulated” season.

To tell you the truth winter ascents on 8000 meter peaks are still waiting for a non-Polish climber to write this little page of vertical history...

Our mountain - “A Place of Saints”

Shisha Pangma is 8027 meters high according to the latest Chinese Survey in 1983. Erroneously a few publications still show the height as 8013 meters or 8046 which were the old measurements competing for the official height. In the Tibetan language Shisha Pangma means “ridge over the pastures”, or else according to the original Hindustani name of Gosainthan it means “Place of the Saints”.

The route

When ascended by the normal route, Shisha is considered among the least challenging of the 8000+ meter peaks. The normal route is the route of the first ascenders on May 2, 1964 (Chinese). Its south face instead has the characteristics of a wall of 2500 vertical meters with a number of inclinations varying from 55° and 90° depending on the route climbed.

The last 8000er in Tibet

The south face was climbed for the first time in 1982 by the Englishmen Scott, McIntyre, Baxter-Jones and Prescott. There are 6 other routes of ascent on the face plus a seventh on the summit of Shisha West, 7968 meters opened in 2000 by Callido and Fernandez.

It is also the last eight thousand meter peak entirely in Tibet. It is in fact in the Langtang Himal region, of which it is the highest peak, and it stretches out onto an area full of satellite summits, with differing heights from 6.000 to 7.000 meters, many of which have not yet been climbed.

See photos (2nd last image) of two of these mountains which are within the sights of yours truly or whoever wants to court them before me…"

Up until now only 7 out of all 14 eight-thousanders have been winter climbed, all located, partially at least, in Nepal. All first winter accents were made by Polish climbers, from Everest in 1980 to Lhotse in 1988 - the last time someone set foot on a virgin summit higher than 8000m during the winter.

Simone Moro, 37, has earlier summited Mount Everest, Broad Peak, Cho Oyu and Lhotse. In the summer of 2003, he climbed on Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and K2 with Denis and an all/star team. He opened a new partial route on the Diamir face of Nanga Parbat, though he did not reach the summit.

This past summer, Simone and Denis, along with Camos, reached the Kali Himal (Black Summit) of Baruntse, also known as the North Summit at 7014m via a new route up the North Face. After this acclimatization climb, they moved to Annapurna’s North Face. Simone had to turn back for health reasons, but Denis made the summit.

In 1996, Simone reached the N. Summit of Shisha Pangma. He is now attempting to make the first successful winter ascent of the peak, climbing via the South Face. Piotr Morawski, one of Simone’s partners, took part in the 2003 K2 winter expedition, led by Polish Krzysztof Wielicki.

Images from top:
Shisha Pangma 8027 South Face
1. Simone Moro
2. Piotr Morawski
3. Jacek Jawien
4. Dariusz Zaluski
5. Jan Szulc
7. Two summits over 7000 metres officially unclimbed
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The Spirit of Adventure
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