(MountEverest.net) After reaching the summit of Shisha Pangma Main and Lhotse this Spring, Silvio Gnaro Mondinelli has taken the summer off - from climbing. Instead of racing for Pakistan, where he still wants to tick off Broad Peak from his pendant summits list, he's chosen to stay at home in northern Italy. Resting and training in the nearby Alps, Gnaro is instead preparing for an even tougher challenge this upcoming fall: A return to Annapurna.
Back to a dangerous place
Mondinelli has attempted Annapurna twice. On his last expedition in 2005 he narrowly escaped a falling serac which killed Christian Kuntner and left other three climbers injured. However traumatic, he's decided to return once more, make the summit and live to tell about it an unavoidable condition in order to complete his current project of summiting all 14 8000er.
Meanwhile, Silvio has started the 2006 season with a double header success. Spring season was cool for me, he told ExplorersWeb. After summiting Shisha Pangma, I quickly reached Everest/Lhotse BC, just needing a couple of good days for a fast summit push.
However, I must say such a strategy was only possible thanks to the huge work already done by Sherpas on the mountain. The Italian team I joined (Mario Merellis) had already fixed the route up to CIV by the time I came. We went up on a far from perfect summit day it was bitter cold and the wind hit hard. But obstinacy kept us going up to the top.
Impressions from BC
Silvios quick visit to Everest South side BC was enough to provide the climber with a fairly good impression. BC is incredibly clean there are Sherpas carrying rubbish down the valley even human waste! I guess climbers usually dont write about such things on their websites but in a huge BC like Everests, these kinds of measures end up making a big difference.
Mondinelli climbed Lhotse from Nepal, relatively distant from the sad events taking place on the Tibetan, north side of Everest. However, the Italian climber is all too familiar with mountain tragedies and Himalayan expeditions - enough to have an opinion on the subject.
Accidents in the Himalayas is a question of numbers
I think, accidents in the Himalayas will increase for the simple reason that more and more people climb there each season. The figures will likely rise most of all on Everest, since people attempting that summit often lack of experience. In BC you can easily find people who have never been in the Himalaya before, people who dont know how to put on their crampons.
As for commercial expeditions well, in Italy a mountain guide is supposed to rope up and belay his client not only when climbing a wall, but also when traversing a glacier. Ive never seen such kind of techniques being used in the Himalayas.
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 12 8000ers.
The latest was Lhotse, which he summited in high wind conditions together with Giampaolo Corona and Giampaolo Casarotto, May 19, 2006.
In addition, he has previously climbed to the top of Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Everest, GI, GII, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Kangchenjunga, K2, Nanga Parbat, Shisha Pangma's main summit, plus Shisha Pangmas central summit (twice). Silvio hopes to summit all 14 8000ers - thus he still needs to climb Broad Peak, and Annapurna.
About Annapurna: Curiously enough, the most awe-inspiring of the 8000ers was also the first to be summited.
In 1950, French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal used only a rough map as a guide, and picked their way up an unattempted route to the summit. Their descent turned into a hellish nightmare, leaving them near death, with their extremities completely deadened by frostbite. Lachenal lost all his toes. Herzog lost all his toes as well as all his fingers.
Herzog and Lachenal survived their ordeal, but too many others have tragically lost their lives over the years. On Christmas Day 1997, Anatoli Boukreev was killed in an avalanche, an event that shocked the mountaineering community. The strong climber had survived the deadliest season on Mount Everest the year before, and aided three other climbers to safety in a brutal storm.
In 2005, a falling serac killed Italian Christian Kuntner, who had already summited 13 8000ers. Three other climbers were severely injured in the accident.
This year, Annapurna has been summited only by Peter Hamor, member of Piotr Pustelniks team, and by Kazakh climbers Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov.
At 8,091m, Annapurna I, most commonly known as Annapurna, is number 10 on the list of the fourteen 8,000m peaks, and is the ninth highest Himalayan peak in the world. It is located in north central Nepal, flanking one end of the Annapurna massif which includes Annapurna II (7937m), Annapurna III (7,555m), Annapurna IV (7,525m), Gangapurna (7,455 meters) and Annapurna South (7219 meters).
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