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Simone Moro back for a Shisha winter climb
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Oct 7, 2004 17: 30 EST

Italian climbing ace Simone Moro is getting ready for a cold, cold winter: His second on Shisha Pangma. Once again, he will attempt to climb the mountain in freezing conditions, to make a first winter summit of the peak.

Real winter = Real cold

It is the exceptional cold that makes Himalayan winter expeditions such rare occasions: Simone's Shisha climb will take place in the "real winter", of Himalaya, and this is what Simone has to say about that:

“We will make sure to climb after December 21st - the official universal climatic date of the beginning of the winter season.
Out of the 14, 8000ers - 7 has been climbed in winter - all by Polish climbers. No other country has accomplished a post December 21, 8000+ climb.

"There have been some climbs in late November and early December but we can’t consider them winter climbs (the calendar and the seasons are not my invention…). We will go for a trekking in December in Nepal and we won’t start the real climb before December 21st.”

The plan is set for the South face, but the route is undecided. "We will decide pending the weather and the condition of the face.”

Team of old friends

Simone will climb with his old friends and climbing partners from last year’s attempt: Piotr Morawski and Darek Zaluski. Both will join Simone if they find sponsorship in time.

Simone's regular climbing partner Denis Urubko is not coming for this one. Denis will stay home to rest up and train for next year, when Simone plans for another project.

It is the exceptional cold that makes the difference

Last year, Simone Moro made his first attempt to complete the first winter ascent of the 8,027m peak. Joining Simone were seasoned Polish winter climbers Piotr Morawski, Jacek Jawien and Darek Zaluski. Mid-January, the expedition was over. It was the brutal cold that finally put an end to it.

Simone reported -52C at 7100 meters in the second night. At one point, Piotr and Simone had to turn back to camp and reheat their feet by a stove before continuing back up.

The shadow came upon us

"We stopped at 7700m because it was 3 p.m. and the shadow came upon us. Our feet started to freeze again. Had we continued to climb I'm sure we would have reached the summit. But we would have had to make a bivy in extreme conditions, risking to die or to lose our feet and hands. The decision to stop so close to the summit, with the route looking so easy ahead, has been a very difficult and extreme experience..."

They became the first to climb the South Face of Shisha Pangma in winter and did the first repetition of the Figueras route. "But WE DIDN'T summit and we are so sad for that," ended Simone his debrief.

Extreme Cyber Climber

Simone Moro has made himself noticed as one of the emerging cyber climbers. They are the new mountaineers who manage extreme technology on tough climbs, something that seriously adds to the challenge. This winter, Simone will use Contact 3.0 and pioneer the first Contact GEO positioning system. If the beta works out, Simone's GPS location will be self-published (!) on a 3D map of the mountain.

Communication is the secret to make a life of climbing

It's all for the sponsors, and Simone Moro works hard to give back to them. In a recent "Financing Everest" (ExWeb/WallStreetJournal) feature he said:

"A sponsorship contract has two signatures, one of them is the alpinist’s. I commit to send interesting pictures and dispatches daily to International media. I'm not bringing my sat phone to the mountain to talk to my girlfriend.

"I use technology to send multilingual daily dispatches world-wide. I attend radio stations calls for interviews, even if I'm at 8000 meters. And, when I get to the summit, I don't just say, hey, that’s great! And start descending. I bring out my camera and do ALL the pictures needed for each one of my sponsors.

"This kind of agreement allows me to choose the climbs I really want to attempt. Had I committed to summit, I’d only choose easy goals, with a high probability of success. This way I can choose the interesting, difficult climbs. The sponsors view me as staff, and pay me a "salary". The result is that I don’t need to look for sponsors, and that I’ve been working with some of them for more than ten years. With or without summit.

"You won’t make a life of climbing 9a - communication is the secret."

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 of Simone
1 and 3; last winter attempt on Shisha Pangma: Middle; Simone working tech in Annapurna BC, courtesy of Simone Moro.

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