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Nanga Parbat winter expedition. Simone Moro and Denis Urubko

2012, January- February

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Nanga Parbat winter

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Expedition chronicle

Info and photo: è Denis blog

24 January 2012. They planned to reach camp 2 today and they have successfully made it there. Until Camp 1, they were accompanied by Matteo and two Pakistani cooks reaching over 5000mt.

Matteo and the cooks however, descended back to Base camp while Simone and Denis continued to Camp 2.

In a message from Base camp, Matteo said :

“I just got back to base Camp. I went to camp 1 with Simone and Denis, the Polish team were there in their tent. There was too much wind to work today. Jan and Noor, two of the three Pakistani of the staff, came with us. 5 minutes after we came back to base Camp, Simone called on the radio saying that they have reached camp 2 and that they were going to pitch the tent. Now they just called again, saying that all is well and they are inside the tent already.”

23 January 2012. Today Simone and Denis were supposed to set up for the last camp; which is camp 3 at 6600mt where there would have had to sleep for two nights before maybe reaching 7000mt, but in a message from Denis, Simone wasn’t really in a healthy state through the night due to stomach upsets.

In his own words, Denis wrote:
“Yesterday there was an earthquake, taking out some seracs, but no problems we are all fine. This morning
I gave some tablets to Simone, It’s necessary to remember that any action on high altitude need strong and stable health condition, especially for the planned route below the west slope of Nanga. For this reason, and from our experience, we decided to stay one more day in Base Camp.”

We have been told that the polish team is leaving today late in the morning to finish setting up the ropes on the Kinshoffer route. Thanks to technology, today we downloaded the GPS route taken so far along the Daimer Glacier. You can easily see our itinerary and the coordinates of each point. We can even start to see how much is left to do.

20 January 2012. According to Simone and Denis; “Today we had a great sun, and we had it for an hour longer than usual because it manages to stay higher than the Mazeno Ridge.

It was our chance to wash and shave, and then run towards the kitchen fire to dry up as quickly as possible.
The Polish team is here, they will probably go up tomorrow. They fixed 200mt of ropes, and they still have to set up the iced area before they reach the Kinshofer wall.

18 January 2012. The team eventually made it to camp 1 at 5555mt today and had a radio contact with Base camp to give some updates on their progress so far.

They pitched a camp at 5555mt, putting their sleeping bags out to dry. The team said ” it was really difficult to get there, but now we can see the route we intend to take”

On their way up they found some old gear which they believed could be Messner’s

The plan was to continue to go higher today but unfortunately they have just received a shocking news about Mario Merelli a great Alpinist and close friend from Italy who died this morning. The guys are devastated and will now return to Basecamp to clear their heads because right now, they are not in the right state of mind to keep moving on.

17 January 2012. This Morning The North Face team; Denis and Simone set out to continue their acclimatization. Finally they have good weather, though extremely cold. Last night they had -30°C at Base Camp.

Quoting them on their planned intentions for today, they said;

“This time we are taking with us all the clothing we will use for the summit push in the next weeks. We will probably already need it, if temperatures remain so low. If we measured -30°C at Base Camp, I suppose we have to prepare ourselves to very low temperatures starting already from tonight.

13 January 2012.Base Camp, 4230mt above sea level, -12°C, cloudy

We just got back to Base Camp. We slept at -30°C and hearing Denis shivering and cursing because of the cold doesn’t happen that often! Tonight we will head towards a spot that could be a Camp 2 for a summer expedition, but we decided to get there directly from Base Camp, so we can test our engine and keep warm while moving. Denis and I have decided NOT to do the Kinshoffer route but to take another one, probably the one Messner tried in 2000 with Hans Peter Eisendle. The Kinshoffer would take too much time, because we would have to place fixed ropes everywhere and we don’t want to.

That’s why yesterday we went up to Camp 1 of the Kinshoffer, grab our equipment and go the same distance inside the Valley between Nanga and Ganalo, keeping to the left side of the moraine.

We reached a spot at 5300/5400mt that had a spectacular view on Nanga and on the wall where I traced a new route with Lafaille in 2003. I had never really seen it in daylight, because with Jean Cristophe we climbed at night and in bad weather.

This morning we wanted to reach the mount at 6000mt but the weather was bad (just as Gabl had predicted) and it started snowing. We decided to come back down because there is a spot on the route where you are exposed to falling in a very dangerous serac for about 4 or 5 minutes, and if there were also some fresh snow it would truly become a lottery. The serac I’m talking about is the one on the left side of the Kinshoffer channel.


11 January 2012. Base Camp, 4230m, -21°C

Simone: Today was partially sunny, and it was our last day of rest at Base Camp.

The word “rest” is probably inappropriate since I have been writing non-stop since yesterday to finish the second-to-last section of my book. Writing with frozen hands while your PC is on a warm water bottle so it won’t freeze is actually quite acrobatic

Tomorrow Denis and I want to reach Camp 1 at 5100m, grab some of the equipment we left there and head higher towards the base of Ganalo Peak at 6608m.

Our goal is to find a passage through the glacier that can take us far from the seracs that plunge perpendicularly, and find a safe spot to sleep. Our idea is to find an alternative route to the Kinshoffer, and it can be possible only by going towards the valley that opens north of the Diamir face.

Today we took some pictures with all the Pakistans, and we also double checked all our electronic equipment which is really put to the test every night by low temperatures.

As for the Polish expedition, they too will head to Camp 1 tomorrow and if they feel well they will stop there for the night. In a few hours they will be coming over to our tents and we’ll have tea all together.

8 January 2012. Matteo wrote: Ciao, today we saw the sun. Denis and Simone ascended to C1 and stayed there for the night.

7 January 2012. BC, T=-16C Today we went from BC to Kinshoffer route direction, but returned back, because a lot of snow...Started on 9-30, but the snow was unstable, we saw avalanches around. We made the depo with gear under the Face. Then put on the snowshoes and returned to BC.

6 January 2012. T= -1C, snow, warm... We are in BC

5 January 2012.

Simone: Today Denis and I did the first reconaissance to the base of the climb that will bring us to Camp 1. We had to trace the route that will take us there (4500 mt above sea level), but it was a relatively simple job. The snow was soft and almost up to the knees. We reached the spot in about an hour and a half and the route seemed good and walkable.

We got ourselves a chance to loosen up our muscles and have some cardio-respiratory exercise, stimulating acclimatization while peeking closer at the mountain.

Tomorrow we will take one day of rest and then we will repeat today's route and reach Camp 1. We will sleep there and the next day we will continue in the channel of the Kinshoffer route to check conditions.

As I am writing, 4 porters arrived bringing goat meat. We'll take the time for a quick meal and then we'll go back to the valley.

Last night we were visited by Tomek, a Polish mountaineer that is here at Nanga Parbat Base Camp alone. He told us he too would be doing a reconaissance today, but he must have taken another route because we didn't meet him today. One of his tents is gone, so I think he will be sleeping out tonight.

3 January 2012. "NANGA PARBAT BASE CAMP, 4230mt above sea level, -15°C

We finally reached base camp, now we won't have to move all our equipment anymore, which we did up to now in a caravan of 61 porters. Today the fastest porters arrived in 2 hours, the last in 3. We paid them, and tipped them because they worked really well. Some of them were not the same porters as the first days because porters "sub-let" their work during the way up. So each day some men gave their cargo to other men, usually from the villages we crossed. Today I noticed some porters weren't wearing the shoes I gave them on the first day.. they were walking with their feet wrapped in cloths.. in the snow!

After getting their pay all the porters left except two of them, who decided they wanted to stay so they could get a warm meal and extra money.

In october I paid some porters asking them to come here and build four walls with rocks within which we could mount our tent. The walls were here today, and they were built greatly. These people are amazing."

Tomorrow and the day after we will stay in base camp so we will finish setting it. The generator and the modem work, and we now have light in the tent we use as kitchen.

1 January 2012. Today, 61 porters have helped to carry all the material, food and fuel, required to sustain the team until the end of February in the attempt to reach the summit of Nanga Parbat this winter. Quoting Simone on some of his comments on the experience so far, he said:

"It has been over 8 years since I was here last time. In the summer of 2003 I was with Denis, my wife and a large group of climbers. : but it was summer.

The people here are more or less the same condition, poor, hard, proven. The school Messner, some houses being built again for his work together with a small hydroelectric turbine, are the only things different from 2003.

We walked surrounded by children and Half way we stopped at a shack and they lit the fire and you and offered bread and ground corn grown here in the summer. It 'was a kind gesture which we really appreciated.

The residents of this valley have proved friendly and helpful and this seemed different (better) than in 2003

Tonight we got here at about 15.30 to Ser and we lit a nice fire, so we warmed up together before dinner. Our satellite modem now works with my SIM card so the signal is good so which assures us more updates coming from us.

30 Dec 2011. From Chilas, the next stops are:

- Ser in Kachal (3900 m)
- Kachal From the base camp (4250 m)

29 Dec 2011. As the travelling continues, the team is now in Skardu and arrived safely after their flight. According to Simone; "The mountain seemed even greater because it was surrounded by clouds, but just the Diamir Valley, what we go up and from which we will try to reach the top, it was completely open to our view."

Next stop is Chilas, the guys will leave at 9:00 am (8 hours) in a minibus and sleep in that town and the day after, they will travel by Jeep to Halal, where they will begin the trek.

Photo Credits: (Matthew Zanga photos)

27 Dec 2011. The trip went well. We are in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. Although arrived in the night, today we have already addressed the first paperwork: a briefing at the Pakistan Alpine Club

All cargoes have arrived: "we would be preparing tomorrow and the day after tomorrow so we can fly to Skardu. A flight that we look forward to, because the route will allow us to see the Nanga Parbat mountain, our goal ":

Next stop is Skardu:.