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Simone Moro
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And then?
Then, when we were still at Lhotse Base Camp, came the decision to try Annapurna. This was obviously the most dramatic experience of my life because I lost two of my companions: Anatolij and the cameraman Dimitri Sobolev. Many people say that we asked for it, but in reality disaster struck on a face that was chosen because it avoided the dangers. We wanted to do the South Face in winter in alpine style. But when we arrived at BC it continued to snow and in the end it was more than four meters deep.

Avalanches kept coming down the South Face and we knew that we’d be risking too much by going up it, so we tried to reach the summit along the unclimbed East Face, which is harder but safer since it’s steeper. Our idea was to climb the face and follow the crest to Annapurna Fang, 7900m and then continue on to the summit. Nothing came down in the one and a half months that we were in BC. So we avoided the risky option and chose a harder but safer project.

But it was a decision that backfired because the first and only thing that came down was the avalanche that killed Anatolij and Dimitri, and narrowly missed killing me. I was dragged down 800m. I’ll recount it in a book – a book that doesn’t want to speculate about a tragedy, and whose profits go to these men who earn $12 a month.


What has struck you about the Himalayan sphere?
I’ve discovered that the Himalaya is a world without God, a world that’s too full of itself and better off not believing in God because its convinced it can go anywhere. I believe in God and am not ashamed to say it.


Everest versante tibetano
At 8000m, on the North Ridge of Everest
photo arch. Simone Moro
"Avalanches kept coming down the South Face and we knew that we’d be risking too much by going up it, so we tried to reach the summit along the unclimbed East Face, which is harder but safer since it’s steeper."
In this precise instant, what are you thinking of?
That I’m going to retry the project I had dreamt about with Anatolij Burkreev: the Everest – Lhotse traverse, the other way round though. This for two reasons, the first being extremely practical: it would be a shame to renounce on the summit of Lhotse, which I have climbed twice already, unlike Everest which I have never been up before. In doing this I would also throw away $15,000 for the permit, without even trying it.

The second reason, but perhaps the first in order of values, is that of the two Everest is harder to prepare for psychologically. Doing the harder section first may help me later. If I manage to get to the South Col after having summited on Everest I might be able find the will and desire, instead of descending to Base Camp, to return to Lhotse along the crest which, incidentally, has never been climbed before, even though the line is logical. I will try this crest because I already eyed it up in1997. During our ascent of Lhotse we left our rucksacks exactly there and I saw that one of the hardest sections is in fact more vulnerable than I thought. So much though will depend on the snow conditions.

But, I repeat, the real problem will be to summon up the energy, more mental than physical, to climb Lhotse after having been on Everest without oxygen. Up there one is at the cruising height of a Jumbo jet. It's like sitting on a wing, with the same wind and temperature, but the only difference being that you arrived there on foot and you have to find the will to wait and jump on another one which returns, on foot of course.

Will you climb alone?
I would have liked to be with someone, with Anatolij, but that clearly isn’t possible. Last year I met Denis Urubku and together we climbed the five 7000m peaks in Russia. Or rather, he climbed all five and I stopped after the fourth because I felt unwell. He’s someone who’s got the “umpf” and right drive for a project like this one, but he only earns $12 a month and I haven’t got the money to pay for his costs.

With a couple of tricks I managed to invent the possibility of me paying Lhotse for him, so I’ll have him as a companion for 50% of the route. He’ll wait for me on the South Col and then he’ll climb Lhotse with me. He’s also an excellent cameraman and this financial acrobacy was possible because we hope to sell his films of the traverse.

What is your programme?
To go to the South Col and first climb Everest, then Lhotse – to connect the two summits. All will depend on the conditions. It’s a bit like the wind when one goes sailing. If it blows, then one can sail, otherwise one can’t. In my case I’ll go if the conditions are right. If not, then I won’t.


Everest
The majestic South Face of Everest
photo arch. Simone Moro
"Up there one is at the cruising height of a Jumbo jet. It's like sitting on a wing, with the same wind and temperature, but the only difference being that you arrived there on foot and you have to find the will to wait and jump on another one which returns, on foot of course."
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