(MountEverest.net) With only Everest left to go, Norbert Joos was the strongest candidate to become the next member of the 14x8000er club. Unfortunately though, the Swiss mountain guide has told ExplorersWeb he won't make it to the mountain this spring.
With that, Italian Silvio Gnaro Mondinelli is next up - attempting his 14th 8000+ meter summit, Broad Peak, this summer. Gnaro will climb Cho Oyu for training this spring, teaming up with regular partner Marco Confortola and other Italian friends. 2006 was a great year for Gnaro, who bagged the summit of 3, 8000ers: Shisha Pangma main, Lhotse and Annapurna.
No news of Abele
Annapurna is also the only peak left for Mondinellis long-time friend and fellow Italian climber Abele Blanc. However, Blanc has revealed no plans to return to the mountain. Blanc hoped to climb Annapurna with Mondinelli last fall, but family issues forced him back shortly after reaching BC. This only one year after he lost his long-time companion Christian Kuntner there in 2005.
In spite of decades of attempts, at this point only 12 men and no women have summited all 14 8000ers in the world. Italian Reinhold Messner was first in 1986; the latest was American Ed Viesturs two years back on Annapurna. In addition, only 5 men made it without O2: Messner; Viesturs; Swiss Erhard Loretan; and Spaniards Juan Oiarzabal and Alberto Iñurategi. The question is now, wholl be the lucky thirteenth 14x8000er summiteer?
Seven climbers are on peak number 13: Swiss mountain guide Norbert Joos with only Everest left to go; Silvio Mondinelli, who still needs to summit Broad Peak; Polish Piotr Pustelnik, who only has Annapurna left; Italian Abele Blanc, also with a pending appointment with Annapurna.
Piotr Pustelnik however announced his retirement from high altitude climbing last year and it's unclear if Italian Abele Blanc will ever return to Annapurna. The peak was the last on the list also for his best friend Italian Christian Kuntner, when it took his life in 2005.
Italian Fausto de Stefani and British Alan Hinkes claim theyre already done; the climbing community however doesnt accept some of their reported summits. According to AdventureStats, Fausto didnt step on the true summit of Lhotse, whilst Hinkes never reached the highest point on Cho Oyus plateau. None of them have reported they'll end the controversy by repeating these unclear peaks.
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