Interview with Simone Moro

Alpinismonline Magazine interviewed Simone Moro, the mountaineer from Bergamo, and talked about a variety of topics, including the current state of the world of mountaineering and the man himself.

(Translation of original article on Alpinismonline Magazine)

Moro is an icon of the modern mountaineering world. A specialist in high-altitude winter expeditions, Bergamo’s great mountaineer is the only person to have made the first winter ascent of four of the eight-thousanders.

Our fascinating conversation covered current topics regarding both the activity of climbing itself and his own accomplishments in the field.

Moro has recently returned from an extremely difficult and complex attempt to traverse the Kangchenjunga skyline with Tamara Lunger, which can only be called futuristic. This gave us the opportunity to talk to him without the usual rush that accompanies interviews when he is in the mountains.

In this context, we were able to cover several topics and discovered some interesting revelations that raise our expectations for his activities to come.

As usual with Simone, just as much as the other times we have reached him, he stands out. Dwarfing the enormity of his exploits is his humility and his predisposition to be present with us for the interview, something that is remarkable for someone as busy as Simone.

We now leave you with Simone Moro, Bergamo’s great mountaineer.

You spent time with Txikon on Nanga including its summit. As a winter specialist, what did Alex lack in making it to the top of Everest last winter?

You need to have the right equipment and a lot of luck to succeed in winter climbing on an eight-thousander. I think he had the right men on Everest, but the weather and the wind conditions were not favorable. In the Himalayan winter, you can die if you make the mistake of overestimating yourself. Alex tried but nature has been very hostile to his willingness to climb.

You have been a helicopter SAR pilot since 2012. What do you think of the lengthening list of accidents happening in the mountains right now?

The increasing number of people and mountaineers going to the mountains is normal, but also statistically increases the number of accidents. Mountains are not like the sea. There’s no beach to lie on and make sand castles. In the mountains there are rules and the dynamics are different. These must be known and learned before going. Climbing a mountain is not like bathing in the sea, and this is what a lot of people don’t understand.

This year you will be 50 years old. What projects do you have hanging in the mountain world? Do you see yourself as a Carlos Soria? Who is currently making an attempt on Dhaulagiri.

On October 27 I’ll be 50 years old, it’s true. It’s incredible how time has gone so quickly, how many experiences I’ve had, and how many people I’ve met. I’ve always been training—controlling what I eat, what I drink, my body weight and my health in general. I’m still a fanatic in preparing ambitious, difficult and visionary projects. I think I will continue climbing mountains because I still feel motivated, strong and skilled enough to continue being the proponent of my dreams. I have many projects, not just related to mountains. Carlos Soria is a friend and an example of longevity in sports. He is also very careful with his health and fitness.

Do you think that the climbing style you demonstrated in summiting Cho Oyu in just 11 hours in 2002 has opened the door to today’s express eight-thousander climbing?

I think I’m still very fast when the conditions allow it. I am a person who works flat out during the week, and therefore my intention to be really fast and be persistent remains. Of course, maintaining speed on an eight-thousander during the winter is difficult due to the long waits and the cold, but it is also important to know how to properly use the advantages of a window of good weather.

How do you combine your professional activities and expeditions with your family life? What role do your wife Barbara and your daughter Martina play in planning an objective and organizing an expedition?

My family has always been supportive, and they continue to support my business. They understand and support the long waits. My 7-year-old son Jonas often comes with me to train and on helicopter flights. I know I have a huge responsibility to teach him so much, but I try not to put him in risky situations.

What vision do you have for women in today’s mountaineering and in eight-thousanders in particular?

They’re like men. There are fewer women in the Himalayas and in the climbing world because of cultural and historical issues, but they’ve made achievements of similar levels to those by the men. I’ve always been very open-minded and have never underestimated women’s progress and their performance in all activities that were typically for men.

According to your experience, are there any significant differences in having a female partner or a male partner? In this respect, what can you tell us about Tamara?

The partnership I have with Tamara is a good example. It’s the same thing I had with Boukreev or Urubko in terms of strength and task-sharing. So I can truly say that I didn’t notice any difference.

After so many adventures and expeditions you have had, would you say that you know your limits?

Let’s say I do know my limits, but I also know that I can go further and improve my skills. What I know very well is how I react in different situations and I’ve developed a sixth sense that often allows me to perceive danger before is too late.

What would you say was the most difficult situation you have experienced in the mountains and what has it taught you?

The tragedy of December 25, 1997, when Anatoly Boukreev died. It was certainly the hardest experience of my life. It was a miracle that I survived and I used strength I didn’t know I had to do something superhuman like going downhill and dragging myself for many miles to base camp, despite being hurt and bleeding after an 800-m fall.

Do you think people learn from their mistakes? According to your own experiences, do you think that painful or negative situations teach us to be better?

Yes, certainly. Anyone who doesn’t learn from their mistakes or painful and difficult experiences is an idiot! Mistakes are only a learning process, not just in the mountains, but in life!

What would you say is the biggest challenge mountaineering faces today? At the present time is there real climbing left in mountaineering?

The desire to explore is ceaseless, and today mountaineering is moving towards the limits of immobile peaks and walls on smaller mountains (6000-7000 m) but with a growing difficulty factor. Many new climbers are also strong climbers. When in 1994 I climbed an 8b and an 8000-m in the same year I think I was a pioneer of what is now more usual in mountaineering.

Do you believe in premonitory dreams? What about luck or chance?

I believe in God and the sixth sense humans have. So everyone has their own ways of perceiving these things. Fortune exists, but it is also necessary to cultivate it.

Would you be open to the possibility of going to the Everest in winter with Alex Txikon?

Yes, why not? Without Sherpas though.

This year has been marked by tragedies without a doubt. What memories do you have of Ueli Steck?

He was a friend, a person I assisted and admired. It was really painful to lose a person like him and it was a serious loss for the entire mountaineering community. He was strong and humble, a visionary and sincere.

What are your projects for next season? Will you return to Kangchenjunga?

I think I’ll return to Kangchenjunga but not immediately, that design and that crossroads appeals a lot to me. I have another winter project in mind but I don’t want to announce it yet.

How can we handle the issue of overcrowding in the big mountains? Do you think there could be a short-term solution?

I am one who loves freedom and that doesn’t want to limit that for others. There is, however, a problem of overcrowding and poor preparation today in many expeditions in base camps. For the eight-thousanders, it would be enough to set minimum climbs to obtain permits. First, a six-thousander and a seven-thousander climb in different seasons. They tried to do it, but the commercial expeditions established a previous seven-thousander climb for the climber and quickly scheduled the eight-thousander thereafter. On the other hand, it is necessary for there to be an interval of one or two years between the climbs of the smaller mountains and the higher ones. In summary, it’s necessary to assert wisdom and to make people understand that they shouldn’t treat a journey to an eight-thousander as a Sunday tour.

Thank you very much for the interview, Simone.

Link to Source

Link to Simone Moro’s website