Nives Meroi and Romano Benet summit Annapurna, their 14th 8000er
Nives Meroi and Romano Benet have summited Annapurna. With this mountain they have completed their splendid journey along all 14 x 8000ers.
At 10:30 (local time) Nives Meroi and Romano Benet reached the summit of Annapurna and, in doing so, they have now completed their “grand tour” of all fourteen eight-thousanders. The Italian couple from Tarvisio reached the 8091m high summit wit the Spaniards Alberto Zerain (his 10th 8000er) and his climbing partner Jonatan García. According to www.2x14x8000.com the four left Camp 4 at 7100m at 00:30 and reached the summit of Annapurna after 10 hours. They are now back in Camp 4.
This is an outstanding moment, by all accounts probably unrepeatable. Meroi and Benet are unique in the mountaineering world. They began their high altitude career together in 1994 on one of the most fearsome and symbolic mountains, K2, but failed to reach the summit. Adding to the difficulties at the time was the fact that they had attempted to climb from the North and forge a new line. This speaks volumes about their approach to the mountains and their personal research. They scored their first 8000m success with Nanga Parbat in 1998 and the long journey up the world’s highest mountains has now finished, more than 20 years later, with Annapurna. The couple always undertook this journey together, without high altitude porters, without supplementary oxygen and always in small expeditions. These aspects are indicative of a style of mountaineering that maintains its roots in a research - first and foremost human - which looks and transcends borders. Romano Benet e Nives Meroi (the bear and Mary Poppins) have completed a great and exemplary journey. A journey, we are certain, that will continue.
Nives Meroi and Romano Benet
They’re the couple who more than anyone else have left the mark in Himalayan mountaineering. And who rendered exploring and climbing the highest mountains in the world a raison d’être and a way to grow together, as a couple. Meroi originally comes from the Italy’s Bergamo region, from Bonate Sotto. Benet is from Tarvisio. She was born in 1961, he in 1962. They both had the same love for the mountains and mountaineering, and their first encounter marked the start of something that has taken them far further than the bond created when two people tie in to the same rope. The couple married in 1989 and chose to live in Fusine, a small village in the heart of the wild Julian Alps they love so dearly. It’s a place where the mountains are “of times gone past”, ideal for their “old-fashioned" way of living that, on closer inspection, seems to be the perfect metaphor for their mountaineering; simple, concrete, always far from the crowds and fashions. It was not by chance therefore that their Himalayan debut the opted to explore the difficult and semi-unknown North Face of K2. That was back in 1994, and Meroi and Benet climbing extremely high indeed, all the way to 8450m, a mere 200 meters shy of the summit. Even without the summit this undertaking is key in understanding their extraordinary experience on the highest mountains in the world. Theirs is a journey hallmarked by the purest spirt of adventurous, by fair means alpinism: without the use of supplementary oxygen, high-altitude porters and pre-installed camps. They opted to climb the mountain alone, or with a tight-knit group of friends, first and foremost with Luca Vuerich. In 1998 they climbed their first 8000m peak, Nanga Parbat (8125 m). In 1999 they summited Shisha Pangma (8046 m) and, a mere 10 days later, Cho Oyu (8202 m). These two summits indicate the true valor of Nives Meroi who, in accomplishing these climbs, became not only Italy’s most successful mountaineer, but also one of the world’s greatest. But this was just the beginning. In 2003 along came the exceptional hattrick with, in rapid succession, the ascents of Gasherbrum I (8068 m), Gasherbrum II (8035 m) and Broad Peak (8047 m). All three climbed in a record-breaking 20 days. Prior to them only legendary Erhard Loretan had done better, ascending this trio in 17 days. It goes without saying that no woman had achieved so much. But their journey continued and Lhotse (8516 m) was climbed in 2004. Next on the agenda, in 2006, was Dhaulagiri (8167m) followed by an ascent to be remembered: K2. On the second highest mountain in the world, on what is considered the most difficult summit of all, Meroi and Benet were alone. The huge mountain was completely deserted: on the summit they experienced the moving synthesis of their travels ... that continued. So in 2007 the time had come for the biggest mountain in the world, for Mount Everest (8850 m). And in 2008, for Manaslu (8163 m). In the meantime, with eleven 8000ers to her name Meroi - nicknamed"the tiger" by Erri De Luca in the book he dedicated to her - was in the running to become the first woman to climb all 14 x 8000ers. A "race" she has always refused to compete in, and continues to refuse, through her words deeds. This sort of "competition" had nothing to do with her idea of mountaineering, neither that of Benet. The two were a couple, a true partnership. Benet indicated the direction, was the strength to bank on. Meroi represented the other way at looking at and doing things. Together they found the balance that motivated them to complete the journey. So in 2009, up on Kanchenjunga when her partner appeared strangely tired and unable to continue climbing, Meroi didn’t hesitate for an instant. Benet urged her to continue, the summit was close and within her reach. Situations like these occur frequently on the 8000m giants. But Meroi insisted on turning back, on returning to base camp together and this decision turned out to be a “life saver". Benet, but also Meroi, now had to deal with a new challenge, with its e most difficult climb of all, up the mountain that is life. The dealt with and passed this test together, just like they had always done up in the mountains. They excelled, united as always, as in the mountains and in life. This is perhaps their most beautiful summit of all. After this pause they resumed their Himalayan career, together as usual, without supplementary oxygen as usual and without high-altitude porters. This "rebirth" led them in 2014 to the summit of 8,586-meter-high Kangchenjunga. In 2016 they ascended Makalu. And now, on 11 May 2017, Annapurna, the last remaining eightthousander, number 14. More than ever before, we are certain that what is more important than the destination is the journey, the travels they undertook. Together.
Video and audio of Alberto Zerain from the summit of Annapurna
All 800ers (with O2) climbed by Nives Meroi and Romano Benet:
Gasherbrum 1 (2003)
Gasherbrum 2 (2003)
Broad Peak (2003)
Cho Oyu (1999)
Shisha Pangma (1999)
Nanga Parbat (1998)