Winter 8000’ers: The Latest From Manaslu, Nanga Parbat and K2

One team has already started up Nanga Parbat, and climbers from Poland, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Spain are en route to K2. But while attention focuses on Pakistan, an unusually secretive Simone Moro plans to add a Nepal 8000’er to the mix. Travelling light and with Pemba Gelje Sherpa as his sole partner, Moro is acclimatizing on Mera Peak in preparation for Manaslu, alpine style.

In recent years, Moro has been part of all winter firsts on 8000’ers. He has bagged four first winter ascents on 8000’ers: Shishapangma (2005), Makalu (2009), Gasherbrum II (2011) and Nanga Parbat (2016). Manaslu would be the Italian’s fifth, according to his own strict definition of winter climbing. For Moro, the first ascent of Manaslu by Maciej Berbeka and Ryszard Gajewski of Poland on Jan 19, 1984 cannot be considered a “pure” winter climb, since it started before December 21.

Moro first attempted Manaslu in the winter of 2015 with Tamara Lunger. Elisabeth Revol led the last cold-season expedition to the mountain. Deep snow and bad conditions thwarted both attempts.

While in the Khumbu Valley en route to Mera Peak, Moro met Alex Txikon and Felix Criado, who were gathering in Nepal with the rest of their K2 team: Nepalese Chhepal Sherpa, Geljen Sherpa, Hallung Sherpa and Pasang Sherpa, as well as Paweł Dunaj and Marek Klonowski from Poland.

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Russian Kazhak Kyrguiz winter k2 team at arrival in Islamabad

Russian winter K2 climbers save excess baggage during the flight to Islamabad.

The Russian-Kazakh-Kyrgyz combo has arrived in in Islamabad. In order to get there, they had to overcome an obstacle almost as tall as K2 itself: scarce funding. The climbers are highly experienced, skilled and hard-core. Overall, they stand a good chance to reach the summit, according to experts such as Adam Bielecki. Yet lack of sponsorship has forced some men to remain at home. Frugality was on display during the long flight to Pakistan, when the team wore their full high-altitude gear, to minimize checked baggage.

In addition to organizer Artem Braun and climbing leader Vassily Pivtsov, the final team includes Roman Abildaev (Russia), Mikhail Danichkin (Kyrgyzstan), Tursunali Aubakirov (Kazakhstan), Dmitry Muraviov (Kazakhstan) and Konstantin Shepelin (Russia).


Daniele Nardi leading on Nanga Parbat's lower sections towards Camp 1, Tom Ballard behind. Photo: Daniele Nardi on FaceBook

Daniele Nardi leading Nanga Parbat’s lower sections towards Camp 1, Tom Ballard behind. Photo: Daniele Nardi

As for the other Pakistan winter team, Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard are already at Camp 1 on Nanga Parbat, at 4,700 meters. The team reached Base Camp in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and quickly moved on from there.

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