Weekend Warm-up: Pobeda

This is about a winter climb in the land of all winters, a silent quest across an isolated place of pristine beauty and lethal breath, where to stop means freezing to death. A silent trip to the frozen heart of Siberia where, looming in the dim northern twilight, Pik Pobeda stands out on the tundra.

Despite its humble 3,003 metres, Pobeda is one of the coldest places on Earth in winter — far colder than summer Antarctica — and a long-cherished goal for Italians Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger. This past February, they completed the first winter climb of this icy pyramid.

Striking off for the peak, in the cold blue dawn.

Moro feels at home in the winter Himalaya, for good reason. He has bagged four first winter ascents on 8000’ers:

  • Shishapangma (2005)
  • Makalu (2009)
  • Gasherbrum II (2011)
  • Nanga Parbat (2016, with Tamara Lunger also on the team, although she turned around short of the top)

And yet, Moro had to learn a few precious lessons about Siberian weather, such as climb only during foggy or overcast days, because blue-sky days are simply too cold to bear.

The couple reached Base Camp on reindeer-hauled sledges, waited for the right day, then climbed Pobeda in a single 11-hour push. The ascent itself was not as central as the journey through Siberia, from all-frozen open-air markets in Yakutsk to the Gulag ghost town of Ush Nera to the tundra, huge yet intimate in its white beauty. After many cultural adventures, Moro and Lunger finally reached the remote base camp with the help of nomadic reindeer herders.

“Exploration is still there … and you need to be curious to understand where it is,” reflects Moro. See what the great climber called one of the most beautiful places he’s seen in his life in the short film below.