Simone Moro's Batura II expedition: Thank God Alpinism is anything but dead, part 2 final

Posted: May 27, 2005 02:57 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 comes down to the fact that Simone isnt happy with the current trends in Himalayan climbing, and he plans on doing something about it.

Frustrated with all the attention given to clichĂŠ climbs of the same mountains on the same routes, Simone established a set of guidelines. From now on, his expeditions will combine the concepts of altitude, difficulty, solitude, uncertainty, adventure and the unknown into a unique mountaineering project. Today, part 2, final.

Finding Batura II

There are hundreds of unclimbed and unexplored mountains on our planet, and I wanted to identify the highest of these peaks. Batura II is 7762 meters and is located in Pakistans Western Karakorum in the Batura Muztagh group. Batura II is also called Pik 31 or Hunza Kunji. It was extremely difficult to locate and find exact information on its history. Many internet sites and some publications listed it as one of the summits climbed in 1978 by a Japanese expedition. I then discovered, thanks to precious research conducted by Wolfgang Heichel, that it had NEVER been climbed and that there have been four attempts to climb the summit.

Thank God alpinism is anything but dead

The first one took place in 1959 by an Anglo-German expedition; then in 1978 by the Japanese, which was concluded when Ishikawa Ito and Makoto Ohkubo reached Batura IV after having tried the Southern Face of Batura II. The Poles then tried in 1983 but they then fell back on Batura I after an attempt on Batura II. The Germans tried again in 2002. I was given information and pictures by Markus Walter, taken during that attempt. Thank God alpinism is anything but dead. There are still climbers who are trying to rescue it from its demise, and in my small way I am trying to help that effort.

"Its gonna be just the two of us in the whole region of Batura Muztagh"

There are a few fore-summits (or satellite summits) of mountains with higher altitudes than Batura II that havent been climbed, for example Lhotse Middle East (8376 m) or Nupse Central (7815 m), but these summits are not considered independent and autonomous. The Southern Face of Batura II, the side which will be the object of our attempt, is definitely more difficult, but less dangerous compared to the Western Face.

My climbing partner will be the American mountaineer and cameraman Joby Ogwyn. Its gonna be just the two of us in the whole region of Batura Muztagh, and this will guarantee solitude and total independence, which is at the core of our philosophy. Combining the isolation with the high altitude of the summit, the unknown factor of the ascent route, and the complete virginity of the whole upper section, we have to admit that our project is at the same time exciting, difficult and adventurous. Youd have to climb in the depths of winter to find that kind of scenario on an 8000 meter peak."

The climbing-mate: Joby Ogwyn

Adventurer and cameraman Joby Ogwyn completed the Seven Summits (Karstenz Pyramid version) in 2000, at that time becoming the youngest person to achieve the goal. He has summited Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu, and attempted K2 and Broad Peak. In his bio, he describes himself as a modern day, real-life Indiana Jones. Joby will be filming the climb on Batura.

Summiting without fixed ropes

On Everest in 1999, Joby made a notable summit ascent. Going up 7 days after the previous summit team led by Pete Athans, Joby and the climbers found the fixed ropes frozen deep into the snow. About 25 climbers set off from the South Col that day; "When Willie and I started up ahead of everyone we found some ropes but they were frozen into the ground. We tried pulling them up for about one hour but it was taking too long. Willie and I continued on without them. Most all of the people below us turned around that day. There were four climbers from Georgia behind us that I passed on my way down on the Hillary Step." Joby and Willie tracked the way to the summit, scaling the ridge and other technical parts without the use of fixed ropes.

Simone and Joby will send dispatches and images via satellite phone on a daily basis.

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.

Images:
1. Baturas area topo, courtesy of Simone Moro.
2. Joby Owgyn, courtesy of Simone Moro/Joby Ogwyn.

Find more images of Batura 2 and the Alpine Club of Saxony 2002 expedition at their website www.alpinclub.com.

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