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Simone Moro
How do you define this interest in 8000m peaks? An infatuation?
8000m peaks have given me great motivation. I know that the race to do as many 8000ers as possible introduces nothing new to the world in general and climbing in particular. There are already 8 or 9 people who have accomplished this feat, and there will be others no doubt. But it is one thing giving something to the sport, and another giving something to oneself. I have to add that doing an 8000m via the normal route, apart from giving nothing to mountaineering, doesn’t give me anything anymore. Were I trying to do all 14, then I wouldn’t have returned to Lhotse and I wouldn’t try to accomplish speed ascents, new routes or climb in different seasons.

I would try them via their normal route, when there are plenty of expeditions, possibly with oxygen, and then I’d start collecting. But that doesn’t interest me. The fascination of an 8000m peak lies in its height. Technically speaking, it’s clear that the future lies in 7000, 6000 and 5000 meter peaks, but at 8000m you’re no longer hungry, you don’t sleep anymore, you lose your bearings, don’t know who you are or what you’re doing. Unfortunately these situations only appear in 14 zones at 8000 meters.

But why search for them?
I haven’t got an answer to that question and hope not to be able to find one, because the day I do will mean that I’ve lived and experienced all there is. Since life is a constant discovery to which the fundamental final answer can never be found. At least not like this. Mountaineering is a way for me to discover myself and these answers. One matures studying, at work, or simply living or travelling. It would be fair to say that I’m maturing, first as a man and now as a mountaineer, travelling and living there, in the Himalaya.

And what about your decision to climb the 7000m peaks in Russia…
I wanted to live and mature and discover a world which my friend Anatolij Burkreev had told me about briefly. He was no longer here and I thought that what he’d wanted to say I’d probably be able to discover there, on his homeground. This was more important for me than climbing an 8000er. I received the answers to the questions I was looking for and now I’m restarting the process to understand other things by going to do the Everest-Lhotse traverse.

I’m not after setting a record, because Messner did that and then the seven people who followed him. I’m not after fame and glory, because even though I’m one of the fortunate few who can live off mountaineering, I continue to receive confirmation that one doesn’t get rich or famous. On the contrary, my bank balance is always in the red and it’s a great achievement to be above the black line for a short period.

You like it immensely
I like it a lot; it’s given me a lot even through the sole fact that I met Anatolij. It was worth it just for that. I met him in October 1996. After a month in Base Camp I still hadn’t seen him, no one had seen him, even though he was the strongest and the only member of the Russian team to summit. This shows that he wasn’t someone who just wanted the limelight, but it was his sporting achievements and above all his human qualities that failed to pass unobserved.


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Khan Tengri
Khan Tengri, 7010m
photo arch. Simone Moro
"Technically speaking, it’s clear that the future lies in 7000, 6000 and 5000 meter peaks, but at 8000m you’re no longer hungry, you don’t sleep anymore, you lose your bearings, don’t know who you are or what you’re doing. Unfortunately these situations only appear in 14 zones at 8000 meters."
Why do you say that he was first a man and second a mountaineer?
One could talk about this for ages. Just one example, at altitude everything’s an effort – walking, climbing, setting up camps and even more so to be unselfish. It’s so hard up there and you can’t afford to be yourself. Anatolij was the only person who prepared something to eat and then said “you eat first, then I’ll eat” or he pretended to not be hungry and gave me more to eat because he saw I needed it. He always looked after me and those around him before looking after himself.

From this one can understand the human qualities of someone who suffered like the rest of us, who earned $20 a month – he had all the right in the world to be everything but altruistic. This shows how in the storm of ‘96 he found the motivation to go back out and save the clients.

How did you meet him?
I was between Camp 1 and Camp 2 on Shisha Pangma. I was making the track and every now and then I sat down to rest and I saw him trying to reach me. When he did he hit my shoulder/patted my back and said, “thanks, you’re doing a great job”. Our friendship took off from there and in ‘97 we struck on the idea of the Lhotse-Everest traverse. We wanted to first climb Lhotse, descend to the South Col and then climb Everest from there. We retreated from the summit of Lhotse because conditions were appalling, so much so that on that that same day the incredibly strong Russian Vladimir Baskirov and four other Russian climbers lost their lives.

I would like to point out to those who said we quit because I wouldn’t have managed that the moment we decided to escape five people died and so conditions were quite obviously very difficult indeed. We retreated principally because the weather didn’t allow us to proceed. It’s clear that being on top of Lhotse wasn’t like a walk in the park and we were exhausted because we’d climbed without oxygen, but we still had enough energy to get to the South Col. We had a tent there which Anatolij had put up before. All the premises were there to at least fail during our ascent of Everest and not immediately upon reaching the summit of Lhotse. We didn’t do it, but we were the first to state that we wanted to do the traverse, the first to show our faces and try.


Anatolij Burkreev
Anatolij Burkreev
photo arch. Simone Moro

"Anatolij was the only person who prepared something to eat and then said “you eat first, then I’ll eat” or he pretended to not be hungry and gave me more to eat because he saw I needed it. He always looked after me and those around him before looking after himself."
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