Hard Times, Close Call for Simone Moro

Winter 8000ers
Photo: Simone Moro

Yesterday, we reported that Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger have been enduring -30C temperatures on Gasherbrum I. The last 24 hours have been even harsher for the pair. The wind pounded Base Camp all night, keeping them awake and destroying the toilet and shower tent. The rest of the camp, sheltered in a deep depression on the glacier, held up.

Despite the bad weather, they tried to climb. The wind had erased all their tracks of the previous two weeks, forcing them to make a new trail. The new,  wind-driven snow settled under their feet with disconcerting WHUMPs. Then a big slab broke off above them and slid down, “stopping practically at my feet,” writes Moro. “Although not enormous in size, [it] could have been fatal.” The broken slab appears in the lead photo above.

At this point, they took the hint and retreated to Base Camp. “Winter is not a game for those who dare more but for those who have more patience and wisdom,” he said. “It’s not about being exposed to the cold for a few minutes a day but constantly…Those who have never tried can neither understand nor imagine.”

Moro is concerned about further snowfall if they continue up the glacier, where the avalanche risk is much greater. So their plan now is to wait for better, more stable weather.

Coincidentally, today marked the anniversary of the first winter ascent of Shishapangma, which he did back in 2005. The Italian has also climbed three other 8,000m peaks in winter.


About the Author

Jerry Kobalenko

Jerry Kobalenko

Jerry Kobalenko is the editor of ExplorersWeb. Canada's premier arctic traveler, he is the author of The Horizontal Everest and Arctic Eden, and is currently working on a book about adventures in Labrador. In 2018, he was awarded the Polar Medal by the Governor General of Canada.

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2 years ago

It’s good that Moro is such an expert on winter climbing. The central fact of winter climbing is waiting out the bad weather and minimizing risk, which often means failing. The alternate, which is far too common, is dying–which almost happened with the avalanche.

Ande Rychter
2 years ago
Reply to  anonymous

The trouble is bad wx is the norm in Himalaya in winter. Drives people nuts. So it’s either going nuts in the tent or getting ground to a mince by a slab avalanche. Tough predicament.

1 year ago

Simone had a narrow escape from a deadly crevasse Italian climber Simone Moro had a narrow escape after he fell down into a deep crevasse in the Karakoram last day. Italian GI – GII Winter Expedition 2019-2020 led by winter climbing specialist Simone Moro, with his partners Tamara Lunger, Matteo Zanga and Matteo Pavana came nearly to end after this accident. Both Simone and Tamara are safe, evacuated from K2 and currently being treated in Skardu. Both the climbers received several bruises and the hand of Tamra is in pain as she was the one who managed to organize and… Read more »

Chogori Adventure
6 months ago

-30C temperatures on Gasherbrum I are normal. And I think they have to stop them for few hours maybe, the bad weather may calm and they can start their trek again. My home is near to Gashabrum and it is just 2 hours drive to the base camp. I visited there many times with our clients but never have the guts to try. Maybe I will in the future. I really love to trek.