Simone Moro last week while acclimatizing in Khumbu valley.
courtesy Simone Moro, SOURCE
Enroute to Everest with Simone Moro, ready for something different with "brother" Denis

Posted: Apr 01, 2010 03:55 pm EDT
Touching the sky over and over again leaves some with no dreams left, while others with an increasing hunger for more. This hunger is one factor that seems to unite the Moro/Urubko combo. Another is the repeated trust of ones life to the other.

Simone Moro is marching up the fragrant valley of Khumbu towards the rocky glacier of his upcoming double-goal: Everest without O2 and a new route on Lhotse.

Denis Urubko, whom Simone considers not only "a perfect climbing-mate" but also an old friend turned into a brother, will soon be by his side. The two will enter familiar grounds, following not only previous ascents of the peaks but also a joint attempt a decade ago of the still unclimbed Everest-Lhotse traverse.

Over the years, both have climbed their way into the top ranks of Himalaya mountaineering - sometimes together, other times each on their own - latest jointly bagging the very last first winter ascent of an 8000er in Nepal/Chinese Himalaya.

ExWeb's Angela Benavides caught up with Simone during his trek for a quick chat about the upcoming climbs, politics, ethics, and the brotherhood that high risk and shared tall-order visions tend to bring on.

ExplorersWeb: The two planned Everest traverses and Edurne's early Shisha attempt were all thwarted this year by Chinese authorities denying climbing permits. Just like your Cho Oyu expedition was last year... What are your thoughts? And should climbers start to take this added risk into account?

Simone: I'm not a bit surprised. My own fate last year was just another demonstration of Tourism management, Chinese style.

Lucky enough it's quite easy to find projects outside China so my advice to the climbing community is to always have a plan B when organizing a project there. I had a back-up plan myself last year but didn't follow through on it to stay friends with the rest of my team.

ExplorersWeb: As for this year - what are your expectations?

Simone: Our expectations are two-fold: Everest is a personal project I want to climb it completely without supplementay oxygen. It would be my fourth Everest Summit in the fourth different style: 2000 from south, 2002 from north, 2006 solo traverse south to north, and 2010 - hopefully - without oxygen.

We have some ideas for Lhotse but we'll check our own condition and the conditions on the face before deciding where and how to do something new there.

ExplorersWeb: After years of exploratory alpinism, how do you expect to find yourself once again in super-crowded Everest-Lhotse BC?

Simone: It will be an immersion in high altitude tourism, but the world and the mountains are - or should be - accessible and free for everybody to live their dreams. The only thing I hope for is that everyone there is honest in declaring and understanding what a summit climb is and what it is not; the difference between a new route vs the classical; and what is oxygen use and what is not.

Those things should be obvious, but Everest history is full of mistakes, lies, lack of sense, reality and team spirit.

Anyway, I respect everybody and hope to follow my style of alpinism and realize something unusual, different or new, even in that crowded Base Camp. We'll see if I will be able to do it or not

ExplorersWeb:Denis and you have known each other for many years. When you started teaming up in the Himalayas you were already a reference in the mountain world, while Denis was a relatively "unknown" climber from some obscure Kazakhstan. Now he is a mountain celeb all-star :-) You have remained good friends...how have things evolved since you first met?

Simone: Honestly, our friendship just keeps growing and now we are more like brothers than friends We are alike in terms of ambitions, goals and values while neither of us is pretentious.

I helped him a lot during this 11 year-long friendship, but only because I just happened to be in a position to do so and liked to do it. He is the perfect partner to me (much like Boukreev was). It's something that happens very few times in a lifetime.

On this upcoming expedition, thanks also to my friend and Everest client Aldo Garioni, we are arranging a last-minute Everest permit for Denis, so we may end up together for a second time on that summit, this time in a no-O2 climb.

And we have more plans for 2010 - and beyond! We'll focus on exploration of different faces, routes and seasons.

In 2009, Kazakh Denis Urubko became only the 8th person in the world to summit all 8000ers without oxygen. He ended his fast rise with the first winter ascent of Makalu followed by a new line on the wild side of Cho Oyu. Denis is the individual (spanning all extreme adventure/climbing categories) that has been most awarded by ExplorersWeb over the years; in 2009 he shared a second place with Simone Moro for the Makalu winter ascent and finally gained the top Best of ExplorersWeb award for his incredible finish of the 8000er quest.

North Face athlete Simone Moro's, 41, high altitude achievements include the first winter ascents of Shisha Pangma and Makalu; a traverse of Everest south-to-north side, with summit at 3.15 am and descent to base camp in only 5 hours; a number of new lines such as on the north face of Baruntse; a number of winter ascents and speed climbs on major mountaineering peaks. Before the Makalu winter climb, Simone did the first ascent of Beka Brakai Chhok 6940 m (Pakistan) in pure alpine style and a 43 hours roundtrip. A difficult attempt on an Everest-Lhotse traverse together with Denis Urubko ended in the successful rescue of a young climber gaining Simone several awards for true, climbing spirit.

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