First Winter Ascent of Nanga Parbat

Simone Moro, of Italy, Alex Txikon, of Spain, and Ali Sadpara, of Pakistan claim the coveted first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters).

By Rock and Ice | February 29th, 2016

Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. At 8,126 meters, it is the ninth highest mountain in the world, and the second-to-last 8,000-meter peak to be climbed in winter. [BigStock photo]Of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 meters, Nanga Parbat and K2 were the only two that had yet to be climbed in winter. On February 26, that list narrowed to one. Simone Moro, of Italy, Alex Txikon, of Spain, and Ali Sadpara, of Pakistan, reached the summit of Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters) at 3:37 p.m. on Friday via the Kinshofer Route, claiming the mountain’s coveted first winter ascent.

All team members—including Tamara Lunger, of Italy, who stopped at the ridge below the summit—reached Camp 4 at 7,100 meters by 8 p.m., and returned safely to base camp the next morning.

“When we talk about Nanga Parbat in winter, we are talking about 27 failed expeditions, faster winds, worst temperature and smaller weather windows,” Arslan Ahmed, who was attempting Nanga Parbat’s 2000 Messner Route with Elisabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewicz, told Rock and Ice in an interview earlier this season. “You need to be fast and mentally very strong to challenge the killer mountain.”

Nanga Parbat, the Naked Mountain in Urdu, earned the nickname the “Killer Mountain” after 31 people died while attempting to climb it prior to Hermann Buhl’s 1953 solo ascent.

After Annapurna and K2, Nanga Parbat has the third highest death rate of the 8,000-meter peaks. Only K2 remains unclimbed in winter.

Simone Moro (left) with teammate Tamara Lunger. Photo courtesy of The North Face.Mount Everest (8,848 meters) was the first 8,000-meter peak to be summited in winter after Polish climbers Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy reached the top on February 17, 1980. Manaslu (8,163 meters) came next in 1984, followed by a streak of winter ascents—Dhaulagiri I (8,167 meters) and Cho Oyu (8,201 meters) in 1985, Kanchenjunga (8,586 meters) in 1986, Annapurna I (8,091 meters) in 1987 and Lhotse (8,515 meters) in 1988.

On January 14, 2005, Moro and Polish climber Piotr Morawski made the first winter ascent of Shishapangma (8,027 meters) in China. On February 9, 2009, Moro and Russian alpinist Urubko checked Makalu (8,485 meters) off the list. On February 2, 2011, Moro, Urubko and American climber Cory Richards reached the summit of Gasherbrum II (8,035 meters), claiming its first winter ascent.

The next of the 8,000ers to be climbed in winter were Gasherbrum I (8,080 meters) in 2012 and Broad Peak (8,051 meters) in 2014, both ascents by Polish teams.

And now, after at least 27 unsuccessful winter attempts since the first in 1988, Nanga Parbat—the thirteenth and second-to-last 8,000-meter peak to see a winter ascent—February 26, 2016.

Nanga Parbat is Moro’s fourth winter ascent of an 8,000-meter peak, along with Shishapangma in 2005, Makalu in 2009 and Gasherbrum II in 2011. He is the only climber to have summited four 8,000-meter peaks in winter.

This winter has been busier than usual on the mountain, with five expedition teams yearning for an ascent—four attempting the Diamer Face and one on the Rupal Face. But despite the inherent competition, many teams merged this season, working together with new teammates and going after different routes, all in the effort to achieve what has never been done before—the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, the Naked Mountain.

Stay tuned for more photos.

 

Pre-Expedition Interview with Simone Moro:

 

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