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Simone Moro
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Simone Moro is remembered, at least in Italy, as trainer of the Italian sports climbing team

I was the Italian sports climbing coach from 1992-96 and when I was offered the job I had 7 years competition experience which started in Bardonecchia in 1985. I specialised in sports climbing, but it certainly wasn’t the only thing I was interested in.

And before?

I was a kid like everyone else. I started climbing with my father at 13, but seeing that I made such a fuss he handed me over to Alberto Cosonni. He took me climbing and I’ll always remember how he made me second him and climb in walking boots for two years. Only later did I buy some climbing shoes and climb in other places, including the Dolomites.

How did you get into sports climbing?

In 1983 I met Bruno Tassi at Cornalba while he was hand-bolting a new route. In his own personal way he became my second instructor. He introduced me to sports climbing where the rules, in contrast to mountaineering, allow the climbers to fall. He persuaded me to take part in Bardonecchia when I was just 17. Other competitions followed and then in 1988 I joined the Italian team. Then in 1992 I was offered the post as coach and at the same time I took part in my first expedition to the Himalaya. This didn’t come out of the blue, since it was through mountaineering that I’d originally started. I wanted to dedicate myself professionally to my new job, but I didn’t just want to sit back and watch. I wanted to be “authentic” and therefore credible and respected by the athletes, because I continued to be a protagonist even though I didn’t have a starting number.

A protagonist within the Himalayan sphere...

But also at the crag, because in 1994 I climbed an 8000m peak and also an 8b. This was extremely important for me and showed that I hadn’t abandoned sports climbing, that I didn’t just train others but continued to train myself. In 1992 you would have had a hard time classifying me, because it was strange that someone who went to climb an 8000m peak still had gnarled hands and tough skin from a day out at the crag.

Climbing in Sardinia
photo M. Zanolla - Manolo
"In 1992 you would have had a hard time classifying me, because it was strange that someone who went to climb an 8000m peak still had gnarled hands and tough skin from a day out at the crag."

So when you started climbing 8000m peaks you also climbed F8b. How did you manage to combine the two?

The Himalaya fascinated me more and more and at the same time I saw climbing as a no win situation. I climbed 8a and the others did 8b, I did 8b and the others climbed 8c. It’s normal for sports to evolve, that one searches for a new result or record, but this meant little to me. The expedition to Everest opened up new horizons, even if I immediately paid for my inexperience. I discovered that altitude really does harm you. On that first expedition I suffered a form of cerebral edema because I didn’t acclimatise properly. It just seemed difficult physically. I thought that once I’d got used to the pain then it would be fine. Instead, at Camp III, I woke up one morning more dazed than usual and it was only thanks to my companions who helped me back down that I got better. There I learnt my first real lesson in sport, how behave in the Himalaya.

And since then?

I’ve taken part in many other expeditions. In 1993 the first winter ascent of Aconcagua in a day and in that same year I made it, solo, to 163m short of the summit of Makalu. In 1994 I failed on Shisha Pangma and then ascended Lhotse shortly after having climbed some 8b’s at Cornalba. In 1995 I tried Kangchenjunga unsuccessfully: during that expedition we found the body of Wanda Rutkiewicz. In 1996 I stepped up the pace and went to Fitz Roy in January with Adriano Greco – we climbed Supercanalata, ascent and descent in a day. Then I went to Shisha Pangma, again with Adriano Greco, and we set another speed record - ascent and descent with skis in just 27 hours.

1997 was important because I met Anatolij Burkreev and this changed my life, both as a mountaineer and as a man. Above all I saw him as a man who was also a mountaineer. In some ways I feel like repeating Messner’s words: “I feel lucky to have failed many times, for this means that I’ve learnt from my mistakes but also that I am alive today. There are some, however, who never failed and the first time they did, unfortunately, paid with their lives.


"I discovered that altitude really does harm you. On that first expedition I suffered a form of cerebral edema because I didn’t acclimatise properly."
arrampicata in Verdon
On Seance Tenante (8a) Verdon
photo G.M.Besana
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