Simone Moro's Batura II expedition: "Thank God alpinism is anything but dead" part 1

Posted: May 26, 2005 03:56 am EDT
Italian climber Simone Moro is setting off for Batura II in two weeks. Before leaving, he provided some details on the mountain hell be climbing and, more importantly, he explained why he chose the isolated Pakistani peak. It turns out that Simone isnt happy with the current trends in Himalayan climbing, and he plans on doing something about it. Today, part 1 (of 2).

Too many people at 8000 meters

There are too many people at 8000 meters, and it seems like all of them are trying to complete their collection of the 14 8000 meter peaks. Even for those climbers who arent collecting summits, 95% of the time theyre just climbing the normal route. Sure, thats difficult, but its still the same route someone took half a century ago.

I myself have sinned

Another trend is to complete the first ascent of ones category on X summit; the first Italian, the first American, the first Senegalese, the first deaf man, the first lame man, the first woman, the first man to walk up backwards, the first white man, black, yellow, the fastest, the most handsome, the richest, the...stupidest. Ive had my share of that kind of record, and I myself have sinned by climbing up the normal routes. But now I feel like real alpinism takes other paths towards a sense of vertical adventure.

Therefore, I started attempting winter ascents, new routes, traverses, speedy ascents, trying to grab the baton left by the great alpinists of the past. Summit success was secondary. I tried to create my own alpinism, not to clone what had been done so well in the past. Todays extra-European alpinism has been reduced to shortsightedness with little imagination. Virgin mountains, new routes on unknown faces, repetitions of climbs achieved only once, winter ascents, traverses of a number of mountains and many other facets of climbing are lacking from the current trend in mountaineering.

The public is only interested in 8000 meter ascents

There are very few people who set off on this new type of adventure, and there are plenty of reasons for that. One of the main reasons is the difficulty in appealing to the public, which is more interested in 8000 meter ascents (if 6000-7000 meter peaks are chosen.) I'm overwhelmed by all the information about current climbing on the highest peaks of the worldbut for goodness sakethey are all the same

Imagination, inventiveness, and a hunger for the unknown

Mountain climbing will always be associated with uncertainty and hard work. But besides the physical effort, climbers need imagination, inventiveness, and a hunger for the unknown and adventure. Having a satellite phone doesnt automatically exclude you from being a true adventurer. By using communication instruments, great pages of true alpinism can be told, as well as very boring stories about dragging oneself up a summit which has already been climbed a hundred times in the same style and along the same route.

How many times have you climbed Everest?

Even being unsuccessful isnt a complete let-down if one has attempted some really innovative mountaineering. Two of the most frequently asked questions in the global village of alpinists and mountaineering fans is How many 8000 meter peaks have you climbed? and How many times have you climbed Everest? This seems to be how todays mountaineers are measured.

If you attempt a different type of climb, express yourself in many different languages, or write books (and not let someone else write them for you), if you move well on all terrain (rock, ice, mixed), if you can recount what you do and what you feel in a fluent way, if you declare successes and failures with the same tone of voice, you are seen in a bad light and not tolerated in the eyes and minds of the main characters in the mountaineering world.

What is the highest un-violated peak in the world?

It is from this harsh and critical analysis (which will bring me new enemies), that led me to embark on a new mountaineering journey. From this standpoint, I explored my new project. I tried to combine the concepts of altitude, difficulty, solitude, uncertainty, adventure and the unknown into a unique mountaineering project. I asked myself what is the highest, un-violated, unclimbed mountain in the world?

Part 2, final: Finding Batura II.

Simone Moro and Piotr Morawski summited Shisha Pangma Friday, January 14 at 1:15 pm (local) after a fast 5 hour climb in very strong winds. It was the first (real) winter ascent on an 8000er since 1988, and the first winter climb on Shisha Pangma.

Simone Moro, 37, has summited Mount Everest (twice), Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, Shisha Pangma (winter), Lhotse (twice) and 5 peaks over 7000 meters. He has accomplished the first winter climb of Marble Wall 6400m (Tien Shan), a 24-hour climb on Fitz Roys West Face (Patagonia), and many other climbs around the world. Simone, who was a sport rock climber before he fell in love with high peaks, still trains daily on a climbing wall and continues to tackle 8th degree (European graduation) routes.

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