ExWeb interview with Silvio Mondinelli: Stand up and fight - on Shisha, Lhotse, and perhaps Annapurna

Posted: Jan 10, 2006 04:31 pm EST

(MountEverest.net) 2005 was a bitter-sweet year for Italian Silvio Gnaro Mondinelli. He summited Nanga Parbat, his tenth 8000er, but also lost a friend on Annapurna. Silvio, who had fixed all the rope together with his mates on the mountain, was on his second summit push when a serac fell, injuring three climbers (Abele Blanc was one of them), and killing Christian Kuntner. Dreams of a summit vanished the moment Kuntner died in Silvios arms.

Later that year, Mondinelli was powerless against yet another 8000er - Shisha Pangma - bad weather stopped him just short of the main summit, for the second time. Lack of time and problems finding sponsors shut down also Broad Peak for Gnaro.

Try and try again, and you'll succeed

Silvio is far from giving up. He has already proven he's a fighter with the firm motto: 'if at first you don't succeed, try and try again'. In fact, 'Gnaro' is doing just that. His first goal for 2006 is none other than Shisha Pangma, which the Italian climber will attempt with a variation of the normal route.

I am going for Shisha in Spring, with three friends, he said in an interview with ExplorersWeb. It will be my third time, by now I know the mountain pretty well, so I am trying a different route for the ascent. We will follow the classic route via the North side up to camp 3. From that point, we will follow a direct couloir to the main summit.

ExWeb: How is it that youre climbing Shisha in spring most teams give it a try in the fall season, after the monsoon

Silvio: Well, it will be less crowded in pre-monsoon season. We expect less snow in April, but surely it will be enough for us to take along our skis.

ExWeb: No Khumbu before summer then?

Silvio: Well, actually I hope I will visit there, if I have time after Shisha. My plan is to give Lhotse a try last time I was there I stopped at the foresummit. If I'm in time, Ill join Mario Merelli and an Italian team there. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner will also come climbing with us if she is done with Kangchenjunga by that time, of course.

ExWeb: She better be lucky then - Kangchenjunga is not exactly an easy one!

Silvio: Definitely not! Thats one place where I have no wish of going back. I still have scary memories from our ascent, when we summited in such bad weather, and Carlos Pauner got lost for two days on the descent! I also suffered frostbites. About Gerlinde, sure shes got a difficult task ahead but, hey, the girl is tough and so is her boyfriend Ralf Dujmovits, who will be climbing with her!

ExWeb: Speaking of not going back What about Annapurna? Do you have plans of returning there?

Silvio:It's too soon to say, but I could. Abele Blanc wants to go back there. He has been talking about trying a new route in fall. If he goes ahead with his plans, I might join him.

ExWeb: Abele Blanc! Thats pretty remarkable of him, after the terrible experience he lived through on the mountain in 2005. How is he doing, by the way?

Silvio:He is doing okay. Last time I met him he seemed totally recovered from the ordeal on Annapurna and he seems ready to go back.

ExWeb: You summited Nanga in 2005, but also had to face some tough experiences. Do you think it was a good year after all?

Silvio: Well, what I try to do is keep the best memories. In fact, the year ended with an incredibly grateful experience: I contributed to the founding of a well-supplied hospital in Nepal. I liked the project, because it is not located in the Khumbu valley, but in a much more polulated area: Malekhu, by the highway which links Kathmandu and Pokhara. A good center was badly needed there, not just to cover the needs of neighboring communities, but also to care for the numerous victims of car accidents in the area (it is the only highway in Nepal).

Silvio Mondinelli was born in Gardone (Italy) in 1958. A devoted climber since the age of 18, he has been a member of several major expeditions all over the world, including ten 8000ers: Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Everest, GI, GII, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Kangchenjunga, K2, and Nanga Parbat, plus Shisha Pangmas central summit (twice).


Italian Silvio Gnaro Mondinelli reached Lhotse's summit today at 10:00 am, local time. File image of Gnaro, courtesy of Mondinelli.

Walking on the bright side: Mondinelli was unable to reach Shisha's main summit last year - in a few months he will be back - again in good company of friends. Image of Silvio in Shisha's BC courtesy of Ottomilaventisette (click to enlarge).
Silvio has no desire to return to Kangchenjunga, ever. Gnaro's hands back in BC, after reaching the summit and looking for missing mate Carlos Pauner for two days (Carlos miraculously made it back by his own means). Image courtesy of Silvio Mondinelli (click to enlarge).
Himalaya is practically Italian Silvio "Gnaro" Mondinelli's second home.

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