(By Raheel Adnan) From strategy on Nanga Parbat to attempting K2 in winter, about Everest brawl and the plans for upcoming spring season, Amanda Padoan shot Exweb questions at Simone Moro, before the latter flew to Pakistan (Thanks Amanda!).
Simone Moro and winter climbing in Himalayas need no introduction and it's better to move directly to Q&As.
Exweb: Schell route is a longer route on one of the highest mountain faces in the world. Did the killings at Diamir BC actually affect your choice of mountain face and route?
Simone: Yes, because my plan was to return to Diamir face and climb the route that I attempted two years ago with Denis Urubko. It’s a new route that (originally) Messner tried in 2000 and is still waiting for someone to complete it.
But (initially) it was told that Diamir Face is closed, so I was forced to choose another face. I decided to turn to the longest but less dangerous route on Rupal face, which is Schell Route.
Schell route is surely the longest route. The good about Rupal face is that I will be climbing in the sun, not in the shadow like the Diamir side on west. But the Base Camp is merely at 3600m. The other bad thing is that it looks like, wind comes more from the south. So, it may be windier … ‘may be’, because I am still not sure about it; there are different opinions.
Exweb: Winter Nanga Parbat is known for almost no respite in bad weather. What will be your strategy on Schell route, particularly about the lengthy summit push above 7000m?
Simone: The idea is to do some acclimatization on nearby peaks. I don’t like to go up and down on that route, too many times. You can’t climb a mountain in winter, as you do it in summer. You don’t have many good weather windows. So the acclimatization and all the work on the route have to be done in bad weather. You can acclimatize and take some equipment along the route, and use the rare good weather window to attempt the summit.
We may not call it alpine style, but ‘light style’ - exactly as we did on Gasherbrum II. So, idea is to do some acclimatization on nearby peaks. Then rise to 7000m on the route and then from there on, be ready to do the remaining climb, as we did on GII; we went to 6400m just once and then directly to the summit. It was nearly an alpine style climb.
Also we know that another expedition of Poland is in BC. They are also on the same route. So probably, there will be some collaboration, because we are friends. We already met two years ago; then again this year, when I was in Poland. There is a really good relationship between us. They have just arrived in BC, few days ago. We will meet there, soon.
Exweb: How do you compare winter Nanga Parbat with that of GII or Makalu? What are key factors for success on this mountain?
Simone: Well at Gasherbrum, we were starting from 5000m (that is BC). Here, we need to go up from 3600m. We need more good weather to achieve the climb or we have to climb extensively in bad weather (if the good weather days are few).
Also, the Schell route is a kind of traverse of the mountain. You have to climb on Rupal side, and then you traverse to Diamir side, reach the summit and return from Diamir down to Rupal. It’s quite complicated. You have to pass from sunny side to shadow and vice versa. Also, in upper sections, it’s technically difficult as well. The route is not finished till the summit. Technically it will be more complicated than GII. Even GII is not easy in winter, but here we have 100m more in height, but importantly 1500m more vertical meters to climb.
Exweb: Ueli’s first expedition after the Everest debacle was a bang! Do you think the spring incident may have some impressions on your Nanga Parbat climb?
Simone: No no no … absolutely not! I don’t think it can have any kind of effect on my brain or my body. That thing was forgotten just few days later. Precisely, for me just 3 days later, after they had forced us to leave and I jumped into my helicopter and landed at the BC. I was moving between the tents, without fear. Either I am stupid or a person who can get over the problems, quickly
So that thing is not affecting me psychologically and isn't creating any extra motivation in me to climb the mountain, to show something to some body. It will be the biggest danger to embark, if I climb just to show something to somebody. Firstly, because if I want to show something to somebody, it means that I have a lot of respective for that person, and that I care about them. I never did anything to show something to someone, particularly about winter climbs, where success ratio is merely 15%.
What I did is already done. After 5-6 expeditions, people love me and they will continue loving me. Those who hate me will hate me even if I reach the summit of Nanga Parbat. So, what I want is a nice experience. I am not affected by what happened.
I will return to Nepal, and I will return to Everest. Nobody talks about it, or may be just few, but Nepal Government has given us back the opportunity to climb Everest. They gave me an extension of climbing permit. When I told that I will request for an extension of the permit, everybody said that you will never get it because of Sherpa pressure and the public opinion. But the fearless act of Nepalese Govt has increased my respect for them.
They gave us the permit extension for 2015, for free. So, there will be one quiet year - strategically it’s a smart move. So, in 2015 I will be back there. Probably, someone (an angry fellow) may still be waiting for me there … but hopefully, not many. This year, I will be there flying with helicopter. Everyone should be smart enough to understand that it’s better to have me as a friend than as an enemy. They can be in trouble any time, and there aren't many who can take them home from there.
Why Simone's wife asked him not to go to K2, we shall know that in Part-2 of this interview.
Based in Lahore, Pakistan, telecom engineer and mountaineering enthusiast Raheel Adnan is a reporter for ExplorersWeb's mountaineering sections. He shares regular updates on Twitter and runs his own blog at AltitudePakistan posting initiated climbing news from Himalaya and Karakoram.
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