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Nanga Parbat, four expeditions aim for first winter ascent


Simone Moro, Emilio Previtali and David Göttler landed in Islamabad yesterday and in a few days time will reach Rupal Base Camp beneath Nanga Parbat (8125m), while a few days ago Ralf Dujmovits and Dariusz "Darek" Zaluski reached Base Camp on the Diamir Face. Tomasz Mackiewicz, Marek Klonowski, Jacek Teler and Pawel Dunaj have already established Camp 1 on the Rupal Face. They will all be joined by Daniele Nardi who announced he will depart for Islamabad on 20 January.

The objective, for everyone, is the summit of Nanga Parbat. The only remaining 8000er that, together with K2, has not yet been climbed in winter. Perhaps this alone suffices to explain such a "crowd". Perhaps… were it not for the fact that the mountain is Nanga Parbat. Or rather, the "Naked Mountain", the scene of the legendary first ascent, solo, in 1953 by Hermann Buhl. The same peak that, along with its incredible mountaineering past, has also been dubbed the "Killer Mountain" for which it bears no fault except for the fact that it is placed second, behind Annapurna, in the relationship between attempts and victims. To this one must also add the recent tragedy which, in June 2013, saw Nanga Parbat at the centre of the absurd and incredible terrorist attack that resulted in the massacre of 11 alpinists. In short, surely this is already more than enough to say that following the expeditions' progress will be interesting to say the least, especially since the outcome can by no means be taken for granted. On the contrary, it is aleaotory and demanding to the utmost, as all 8000ers are in winter. Also because, it's worth underlining, all alpinists will attempt their Nanga Parbat winter summit not only according to their own plans, but also up different terrain.

52-year-old German alpinist Ralf Dujmovits for example is already at Base Camp on the Diamir Face, the NW side of the mountain, the one first climbed in 1962 by the Germans Toni Kinshofer, Sigfried Löw and Anderl Mannhardt who, in doing so, made the second ascent of the mountain. His initial plan, still to be verified, is to follow the line climbed in 1978 by Reinhold Messner. And just like Messner, Dujmovits will attempt to climb it alone; it's superfluous to say this this is a highly ambitious project. Dujmovits will bank on his great Himalayan experience: in 2009 he succeeded in climbing all fourteen 8000ers, many of which together with his wife Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner who, as everyone knows, is the first woman to have climbed all 8000ers without supplementary oxygen.

At Base Camp, helping Dujmovits prepare for the ascent, is Poland's Dariusz Zaluski, a friend with an in-depth knowledge of the Himalaya. He has in fact numerous winter expeditions to his name (such as Shisha Pangma in 2005 which resulted in Simone Moro achieving the first winter ascent), as well as ascents of Gasherbrum II, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, Everest and, last but not least, K2, climbed in 2011 via the North Face together with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Vasiliy Pivtstov and Maxut Zumayev. During that ascent Dariusz, who also happens to be a great filmmaker, documented the entire ascent to create a beautiful film which revolves around the (love) story between Kaltenbrunner and Dujmovits. At present Dujmovits and Zaluski have finished a first exploration stage to beneath Camp 1 at 4850m along the Kinshofer route, encountering difficult conditions with hard, open ice. But the "game" has only just begun. And, talking of which, it's worth noting that their's is the first expedition to reach the Diamir Base Camp after the terrorist massacre of 11 alpinists last June. For this reason a touching commemoration service was held before they established Camp. And it's for this reason that the expedition was escorted by three armed soldiers. This too, is a story within the story…

The same story, or almost, that Simone Moro, Emilio Previtali and David Göttler are about to embark on as they too will be escorted by the army; a solution which the Pakistan authorities wanted even though the trio are heading to the other side of the mountain, the SSE Rupal Face. This is an immense wall which, 4500m high, is considered the biggest in the world. F was first climbed in 1970 by the brothers Reinhold and Günther Messner and the ordeal cost the life of Günther who did not survive the incredible descent and "escape" down the unknown Diamir Face. On the legendary and frightening Rupal Face Simone Moro plans to climb up the Schell route, first climbed in 1976 by the Germans Hans Schell, Siegfried Gimpel, Robert Schauer and Hilmar Sturm. This line has received little attention since in summer it is prone to rockfall and avalanches, but in winter it could turn out to be not only the most direct line, but also the safest. Himalayan veteran Moro has opted for this line instead of the Diamir Face on which, as many will remember, he carried out a first winter attempt two years ago with Denis Urubko.

Moro will be joined on this new winter adventure by his first climbing partner, Emilio Previtali from Bergamo, the "poet" of Italian freeride skiing and more. In on the adventure is also Germany's avid Göttler who reached the summit of Nuptse last May together with Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner having carried out a rare repeat of the Scott route. While this is Göttler's first winter experience in the Himalaya, there's no need to say that he'll be flanked by a great master, namely Simone Moro who has already achieved three first winter ascents: Shisha Pangma, Makalu and Gasherbrum II. The only "non Polish mountaineer" (who are famous for being absolute heroes in this "discipline" who leads the special ranking of first winter ascents of the highest mountains in the world.

Talking about Poles and winter ascents. Moro & Co will be welcomed at Rupal Base Camp by Tomasz Mackiewicz, Marek Klonowski, Jacek Teler and Pawel Dunaj, the four Polish alpinists who are already forging their way up the Rupal Face. Mackiewicz and Klonowski will attempt to finish business they began 4 years ago. And, they too, plan on climbing the Schell route. But that's not all, as just a few days ago Daniele Nardi from Rome announced that he will reach Nanga Parbat on 20 January. He too is returning to the mountain after last winter's expedition with Elisabeth Revol. Base Camp will be on the Diamir side (together with Dujmovits and Zaluski) but this time Nardi will be alone in his attempt to climb the virgin Mummery Spur. An undertaking within an undertaking…

What remains to be said is that things have only just begun, or will begin soon. That Nanga Parbat in winter is a serious affair, not only for the polar temperatures. And that, as always, it'll be the mountain that dictates when, how, and according to which rules...





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