story of a hidden Karakorum valley surrounded by beautiful granite walls

by Matteo Bedendo – photographer, climber / edit Federico Bernardi (c) MontagnaMagica

The Karakorum, in the collective imagination is often associated with the great peaks that rise along the Baltoro Glacier, the scene of epic expeditions and climbs since the early 1900s.

K2, Gasherbrums, Broad Peak, Chogolisa and Trango Towers, Laila Peak: the mountains that bring to mind great challenges of the past and present.

Yet the Karakorum includes dozens of more hidden and less known places, less accessible but with valleys, glaciers, mountains and granite walls of extraordinary beauty and mountaineering potential, with heights ranging from 4500 meters to over 7000 meters, which provide- for the few who venture there – climbing inexhaustible thrills and plenty of exploration possibilities.

Matteo Bedendo, a young and talented photographer and mountaineer, explored, photographed and wrote about one of these places in 2016: the Nangma Valley, located about 50 km south and parallel to the great Baltoro and K2 glacier.

We propose below his extraordinary historical report and below his photo gallery. 

 

                                               Nangma Valley – pin on Amin Brakk peak (Google Maps)

Last summer I had the privilege of photographing the most amazing valley I have ever seen.

The Nangma Valley is an aesthetically sublime place, secretly nestled in the heart of the Karakorum. Although I saw some western explorers as early as the sixties, this valley still remains unknown to most mountaineering and climbing enthusiasts. Anyone who knows this mountain range has probably heard of the Charakusa valley, dominated by the immense north face of K6; however, the valley that reaches this mountain from the south – called Nangma – has yet to show its immense mountaineering and naturalistic potential to a large part of the world.

When Eduard Koblmiller set foot in the valley during his successful K6 expedition in 1970, he described it as a place of “unusual and primordial beauty”. The Nangma Valley looks like an impressionist painting, made of extreme color contrasts and abstract lines that point the sky with astonishing verticality. Someone calls it the “Yosemite of Pakistan” although here, in addition to kilometer-long granite castles, there is also room for high altitude mountaineering – technical and difficult – typical of the Karakorum mountains. The beauty of the valley is almost touching and, unlike other and much more famous places, the base camps are only an intense day’s walk from the road.

The valley can be reached from the village of Kande, along the Hushe valley.

There must have been a long moment of creativity crisis since almost all the villages are called Kande, Khane, Kunde or Kanday. The Kande you need to reach is the last one. Having a guide with you is mandatory, although according to the law this is an “open zone”: at the military checkpoint along the valley, the military stops anyone without one. Fortunately, no liaison officer or briefing / debriefing is required in Islamabad – everything can then be arranged directly in Skardu, saving time, cost and bureaucracy. The Hushe valley sees every year some mountaineers / trekkers leaving the Gondogoro La, the famous high altitude pass that leads – with an alternative route to the classic – to Concordia and K2. But there is no guesthouse or tourist facility in Kande; a few years ago the entire village was destroyed by a landslide and was rebuilt a little further north. Your guide, if you are as lucky as we were, can arrange a guest room at some farmer’s house. Camping along the valley is definitely an option; any porters can be recruited directly the night before, in the village.

Although there is a great suspicion that this valley will become famous for its granite, pure rock routes and immense towers such as Amin Brakk, one cannot begin to speak of a mountain other than K6 (7282m).

Not only was the first ascent to K6 from this valley, but it is still the only ascent to the main peak. The impressive route established by Raphael Slawinski and Ian Westeld in 2013 on the north face – which led them to the victory of the Piolet d’Or – ended on the West summit. The real summit of K6 was only reached in 1970 by an Austrian expedition that trod the summit with four members: Eduard “Edi” Koblmueller, Gerhard Haberl, Christian von der Hecken and Gerd Pressl. For Koblmuller this is the first great success in Asia, which will be followed by a series of impressive climbs of the highest level especially in Karakorum: he will be the first to reach the main summit of Chogolisa (miraculously saved after the collapse of a frame) and will climb routes difficult on legendary mountains such as Batura, Cho Oyu, Diran, Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat. The “via Austriaca” crosses the entire base of the mountain and crosses a hill until it attacks the “shoulder” from the adjacent valley (direct access from here would have been much longer) and then reaches the south-east ridge. The climbers evaluate some sections in the upper part as V + / A2. Many fixed ropes were used. The year before, an Italian expedition attempted to climb K6 from another route: instead of continuing towards the “shoulder” the route climbs sharply to the left along an ice ramp and then follows the west ridge (crossing K6 West) up to a series of rocky pinnacles which apparently proved too difficult. The first attempt dates back to an English expedition in 1961. A recent new route (Bennet – Zimmerman, USA, 2015) at K6 West, with mixed difficulty up to M6 and ice up to 90 °, is worth noting.

Kapura (6544m) is an elegant pyramid of rock and ice that rises from the west ridge of K6. Famous for having only recently been climbed – in 2004 – by Steve House, it only saw one ascent from Nangma Valley in 2013, by a pair of al Portuguese pin players. Paulo Roxo and Daniela Teixeira have made a route that ends on the south peak at about 6350m of altitude: it is called “Never Ending Dreams”, it extends for 1300 meters and presents difficulties of M4 and ice up to 70 °.

The Nangma Valley, as I mentioned earlier, has the potential to become a Yosemite of the East, with perfect, dry walls rising straight from base camp.

However, the mountain symbol of this valley does not have a comfortable wall, much less close to a possible base camp. The summit is a confusing party of frames and the exit from the wall cannot be done without ice equipment and a good ability to move on this type of terrain.

The Amin Brakk is one of the most impressive rock monoliths in the Karakorum and on the planet. Despite the not extreme altitude (about 6000 meters, although it appears a little lower on the maps), it is the real protagonist of this remote corner of Pakistan. Its west face looks like a torpedo twelve hundred meters high and terribly vertical. Indeed, the first part presents a more unique than rare case of overhanging slabs. The very compact “belly” that rises from the rotten and icy basal rocks does not in fact have the appearance of something that can be climbed free by a human being, although a system of cracks that crosses it cannot be excluded. It is an El Capitan of Asia, but it is much more difficult – and great: the local guides proudly reiterate that it is “much more difficult than the Trango Towers”. Recently discovered, it saw a first Spanish attempt run aground 300 meters from the summit in 1996, after staying on the face for fifteen days. It was only in 1999 that other Spaniards, Silvia Vidal, Pep Masip and Miguel Puigdomenech, reached the summit after thirty consecutive days on the wall. Their route, “Sol Solet” has a development of 1650 meters and most of the pitches have been climbed in aid, with difficulty in aid up to A5 and free up to 6c +. Over 500kg of material were transported to the face (almost half was water) and about thirty bolts were planted during the ascent, concentrated above all on the pitches where the granite proved to be very compact and smooth; two days of abseiling were necessary to descend and completely clean up the face. The mountain was named Amin Brakk as a tribute to their cook, Amin. A few days later the summit was reached again by a Czech consortium: “Czech Express” climbs more to the right than “Sol Solet” and has difficulties with aid of A3 and a greater development than the Spanish route. The ice reaches 70 °.
The “Namkor” route by Adolfo Madinabeitia and Juan Miranda climbs between the two aforementioned routes, has a development of 1550 meters and required thirty-one days of stay on the wall, most of which passed through the portaledge due to bad weather. Seventeen of the thirty-one pitches were climbed free (up to 6b +), while the greatest difficulties were encountered in the two pitches of A5.
In 2004 a Russian expedition, after having climbed the mountain partly by a new route, saw the first and only BASE jump in its history. Valery Rozov (who recently passed away during a jump on Ama Dablam) launched himself from a point near the summit ridge three hundred meters from the summit and, despite having passed dangerously close to a ledge during the first seconds of flight, the entire expedition ended with a success.

The classic expedition base camp on the right orographic side of the valley is a picturesque and magical place. The walls that overlook it are in themselves a satisfying goal for a rock purist.

Zang Brakk and Denbor Brakk are two peaks of 4800 meters that certainly do not go unnoticed for their aesthetics and verticality – and they are also an excellent fallback in case the most ambitious goals of the valley (read Amin Brakk) prove .. too ambitious, in fact. The granite is compact and colorful and there are still many possible routes to climb. Zang Brakk is certainly one of the most erotic towers in the valley, thanks to a really attractive appearance and – above all – instant access: the wall literally starts at the base camp. The development of the routes that go from the base to the top varies between 540 and 750 meters. The first ascent is once again due to Pep Masip and Silvia Vidal who in 1998 scoured the area to be able to look personally on the Amin Brakk, which they would have climbed the following year. The route is 540 meters long and most of the pitches have difficulty in aid up to A3. The couple reports that they have found old bolts of unknown origin a few meters beyond the start of the route. In 2000, three new routes were born. Two routes were established by a Korean team and present similar difficulties – 6a + A4-. The third route was established by a couple of British climbers and ends a short distance from the summit. “Ramchikor” is Mon g at 600 meters and was graded 5c + A2 by the openers. A recent addition is the “Hasta la Vista David” route, by Silvestro Stucchi, Elena Davila, Anna Lazzarini and Enea Colnago. The route runs along the southwest wall for 750 meters with difficulties of VI + and A1.
Libby Peter and Louise Thomas, authors of “Rachikor” on Zang Brakk, are also the first female climbers of Denbor Brakk – for a rather laborious route (debris and crest) with moderate technical difficulties. In 2009 the obvious south ridge of the mountain was climbed (to the south peak) by Americans Estes and Hepp, who described it as one of the worst climbs of their lives, much of it due to intense “gardening” that the two found themselves having to practice. A more direct Polish route takes place on the largest of the three pillars that characterize the mountain and has been called Dancer in the Dark. Although the Denbor Brakk is also very close to the base camp, it requires (except for a much longer tour) the crossing of a rushing glacial river-waterfall. A fixed rope is required to avoid major risks at each crossing.

After this long praise to the perfect granite of the valley it is time to break the article with a stupendous ice pyramid: Drifika (6447m).

The mountain, whose name is a distortion of a local word meaning “Palace of the Ghosts” is rather hidden. Its presence cannot be guessed from the main valley and to get there you have to cross the Amin Brak for a long time – crossing endless moraine slopes. The few people who have laid their eyes on his perfect profile probably did so from the north, from the Charakusa valley – where the first and second ascents (Japanese and Italians respectively) also took place. From the south the mountain looks just as splendid, but lately a bit battered – in the summer season – by the scorching Pakistani heat: photos from 2004 show steep couloirs of abundant snow which, at present, have been replaced by piles of debris in constant collapse . The rock here is no longer granite but, with good coverage, the Drifika shows a series of logical and interesting lines. Of the few expeditions that the mountain has seen from this side, it is the Slovenian one in 2004 that has come closest to success. Their turnaround a few tens of meters from the top was forced after having witnessed the fatal accident that happened to a member of the Basque expedition, a few hundred meters below them. The route of Matija “Matic” Jost and his companions is called “White River” and is as logical as it is beautiful: the exposure is guaranteed for the 1200 meters of route (60 ° ice, a short 90 ° jump on the serac). At present, the lower part is not accessible in the hottest months due to the endless collapses of debris. In 2007 a new Czech route reaches the West summit via the southwest ridge (M4, rotten rock).
In the glacial valley where Amin Brakk and Drifika face each other, there is room for another climb on ice. Korada Peak (5944m) was climbed by the Slovenians of “White River”, Gregor Blazic, Matija Jost, Vladimir Makarovic. While not huge by the standards of the Karakorum (it has the defect of being between two beautiful mountains) it has a remote and attractive aspect. The route was climbed and descended in 25 hours and although for the most part it is “only” a steep slope of ice, it overcomes a difficult rock band 60 meters high. It is rated TD + by the openers.

A rather obvious mountain in the valley is called Shingu Charpa (or “Great Tower”, ca. 5800m).

First climbed by Koreans Shin Dong-Chul, Bang Jung-Ho and Hwang Young-Soon in 2000. After discarding the idea of climbing the north ridge, they aided the obvious snowy couloir on the west face with fixed ropes. they then continued on delicate rock – always at risk of collapsing due to frequent rainfall. However, the real reason for the interest in this mountain remains its north ridge. It is almost sixteen hundred meters high and is a masterpiece of aesthetics. As logical as it is cyclopean, its story remains somewhat controversial. Known and attempted since 2000, it saw a Russian team covering it almost entirely up to the top in 2006. The Russians, however, made the ascent in two stages, that is, descending to about a third and then returning to the same point via a shortcut along the wall. East. Furthermore, although Igor Chaplinsky claims to have reached the summit free, it is now known that the three did not climb the last hundred meters of ice due to “lack of material”. Even having free climbed the entire ridge turned out to be a fake. A similar fate for the Americans Kelly Cordes and Josh Wharton who in the same year were rejected by the very hard black ice at the summit after having laboriously covered the entire ridge (with many sections in aid). Follow this intact ridge lmente, up to the top, remains one of the most ambitious open challenges in the valley.
The second ascent of the mountain took place the following year by Alexander Klenov, Mikhail Davy and Alexander Shabunin – Russian team – through the east face. The route is called “Never More” and intersects the north ridge on the final: the grade is very high and the development quite high (1600m, 7a, M5, A3).

The possibilities in the valley are endless, but we should mention the mysterious Changui Tower (often “Changi Tower”), whose east wall has already been climbed at least twice. The height of the tower should be around 5800 meters, although some old maps and reports indicate 5300. The mountain is located on the less famous side of the Amin Brakk, where the valley curves towards the K6, and is probably the second tallest structure. of the aggressive and complex mass of granite. A second Changi Tower (6500m), already known in the seventies and invisible from the Nangma valley, rises at the easternmost base of K6, and presents a difficult high altitude climb on mixed and ice, with very compact rock.
One of the fastest access towers (at least among those of defined and imposing appearance) is the Logmun Tower (or “Green Tower”, ca 4600m). Having placed the base camp at the bottom of the valley and not on the orographic right (so in case Amin Brakk, Zang Brakk and companions are not of interest to you ..) this huge triangular pillar is the most obvious vertical structure. The few routes marked out have free climbing up to 6a / 6b + and some artificial points up to A3: the climbing is always very continuous and demanding, and often the cracks need to be cleaned of vegetation. The development remains remarkable even if it is a pillar of not exaggerated altitude: it starts from a minimum of 600 meters to a maximum of 850 meters.

All along the valley there are hundreds of towers and virgin walls of perfect granite, as well as a decent choice of boulders. Despite a good number of very remote ice walls and a difficult, high and legendary mountain like K6, it is obviously the granite that reigns supreme here.

The Yosemite of Pakistan is ready to welcome the most demanding climbers who, in addition to a good dose of imagination and technical ability, are looking for a new earthly paradise, remote but accessible, where to experience modern and exploratory mountaineering at the same time.

 

NANGMA VALLEY EXPLORATION –  GALLERY 

all photographs by Matteo Bedendo – it is forbidden copy and share without explicit consent – all rights reserved (c) Matteo Bedendo Photography

hushe valley
nangma valley
amin brakk

 

After K6 Central climbed for the first time by Jeff and Priti Wright, a French duo , Symon Welfringer e Pierrick Fine ,bagged another great first ascent of the Sani Pakkush South Face

 

“Revers gagnant”

Fine Pierrick
Welfringer Symon

2500m / 90° / M4+ / WI4+
16-20/10/2020

Symon Welfringer e Pierrick Fine 

Arrived in the beginning of October on the Toltar glacier we acclimatized around our basecamp situated at the base of the massive South face of Sani Pakkush which remained unclimbed. 
After two weeks we were ready to give a try in this big piece of alpinism. Poor weather conditions made us wait fax days more but the sun was expected to shine for almost one week which made us allow to give a proper try in the face.
After an early start at 2am form our basecamp on the first day, we met the first difficulties at an altitude of 5000m at the very beginning of the face, with some sustain ice pitches. Then follow some more easy terrains of snow and mixed climb. At around 5600m we made one of the hardest pitches of M4+/M5 to find a little platform and make an uncomfortable bivy.
On the second day we managed to get high up on the face and made two awesome pitches of pure ice. At around 6200m we look for a desperate bivy sport but never find it. Finally we wait for the sun to come back sited on a rock.
On the third day, we were really exhausted after two bad bivys. We decided to put our tent at an altitude of 6400m on the summit ridge where we find a nice and comfortable crevasse to have a proper rest. 
On October the 19th, we decided to make a summit with almost no gear. We let our bivy in place and went for the last 500m on the snowy summit ridge. With a constantly changing quality, it was harder and harder to go up the summit but after 7 hours of hard work sometimes digging into powder snow. We arrived at 14pm completely exhausted on the Sani Pakkush summit at 6953m. 
We spend our last day going down this massive face of 2500m, switching between rappelling (20-25) and downclimbing. On the late afternoon of October 20th, we made it safely back to basecamp empty of all our energy and lots of emotions in our minds.

 Sani Pakkush South Face

Denis Urubko has released an important interview with Russianclimb.com; with his personal permission and that of Elena Laletina, editor of the important Russian site, here the translation of his thoughts 

I don’t like the Mountains: I’ve lost too many friends, up there

Denis Urubko – Translation Federico Bernardi with the collaboration of .. some Russian friends

             Denis for russianclimb.com 

I’d seen a lot of speculation in recent times, lot of people talked about me … “blah blah blah” ; they do it to promote themselves.

Please! How many lies … both from film directors as from other climbers.

It happens that journalists offer to the audience these speculations as the ultimate truth. But most of them are wrong.

The only one I trust about these speculations [about K2 last attempt with polish exp,NdT]  is Bohuslav Magrel (Head of the Polish Alpine Club), because he knows me well. And now I prefer to clarify by myself .

There is nothing definitive for me, on the contrary !

Everything I do in the mountains could change, in my opinion: tactics, technique and climbing style. Only the goal remains the same.

Therefore, no one should be surprised if I reappear in the Himalayas, once or a few times … For example: why do not break Juanito Oiarzabal’s record and climb Cho Oyu four times in a season?

Such a thing would be a lot safer and more fun than what I’ve done so far.

But extreme mountaineering, the first and the winter climbs to the peaks of the Himalayas are no longer for me.

However I leave an open door, in case my wife, Maria Jose Cardell, asks me to help me trace a new alpine-style route. In this case I will help her, for sure.

What is certain is that I had decided to close with extreme mountaineering even before trying Broad Peak.

I was joking with my two partners, Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa, on the fact that this was my last expedition: I was counting the days … I told them: another 45, 30, 20 days before the end of my Himalayan career.

However I put a lot, a lot of strength and all my soul into this last attempt. I did a lot of the route opening job. You have seen my three summit attempts, including two solos when Don was sick.

I have spent many years in extreme mountaineering, I have had enough. I have fulfilled my ambitions and I see nothing else I could do.

What have I managed to do in excellence? “Shine on you crazy diamonds”: my “diamonds” are my five new alpine-style routes on eight thousand meters. I climbed at high speed and set speed records from 4,000 to 8,000 m.

I did two winter climbs on 8,000 mt.

I have climbed extremely difficult routes on rock from 2,000 to 7,000 meters, on bastions and walls in different parts of the world, such as the Kush-Kaya, the Ushba, the Vittoria Peak, the Kali-Himal. I am quite satisfied with what I have done.

From a quantitative point of view … Age is a problem from which nobody escapes. I can’t do what I could do when I was 30! It is important to understand this and not try to run like a hamster on a wheel.

I have worked as a coach for 14 years and I have formed strong teams. But many organizers and participants often did not make enough efforts. Too many confuse freedom as “doing nothing” without effort.

Another reason why I quit is liability. My wife, my childrens and my parents need more attention and support . After all, they rightly told me: a good climber is a living climber.

I want to spend more time with my loved ones.

Above all, I am tired of wasting time. This has happened too often. I spent a lot of time training and I missed my family and friends too often.

The expeditions lasted from two to three months, my partners have often proved to be a burden , as has happened many times with Simone Moro.

And it was the same during the last attempt to climb K2 or Broad Peak this year, and I mean Don Bowie. Being a good person is important, but it is not enough to reach the summit. I have had to stop so many times because of other people’s irresponsibility. Now I prefer to spend my time doing other things.

I don’t like mountains: I’ve lost a lot of friends up there. I like actions and I want to feel free to choose … my way of being free.

Now I intend to live a life common to that of normal people: work, children, hobbies .. I will enjoy life. And rock climbing, at high levels, but safely. I dream of climbing up to 8a.

Yes, it is true, I have saved a dozen people; and I also saved many from freezing and other injuries. And three times others have saved me, so I thank my friends and expedition companions. I saved a dozen people, but this should be seen in a different way: let’s think, for example, of the doctors from the emergency departments who save hundreds of people every day. Medical care is the norm in the life for many people, this makes our life better in Wroclaw or in other places, in Italy where I do live.

All of this while myself and other climbers, in reality, simply realize our selfish or sporting ambitions.

When I rescued Anna and Marchin [on K2, NdT], of course, they both needed my help, but themselves found strength in those situations. Without your own efforts, when you are in trouble, everything would take longer and the risk would be enormous .

I feel sorry for the people who lie before, during and after the expedition. Spending three months on a team full of weak, deceptive and lazy losers? I’d rather have refused.

There were three or four good climbers on the K2 team. These are Marchin, Adam, Rafal and young Maciej. But it was impossible to act in the swamp created by the other climbers, by the organization and by the director of the expedition. In fact, in recent years we have observed almost a complete zero in the true Polish style of high altitude climbing. Yes, there was Andrzej Bargel. I appreciate what it does, but it’s something different.

Many words, too many excuses, this was the reality I saw. Many words have been spent on the heroic past, on the successes of Chihi, Kukuchka, Kurtika and others, but the latest generation is not ready for sport climbing.

Recent successes for Polish mountaineering? Peter Moravsky winter climb on Shishapangma and my new route on Gasherbrum II. It doesn’t seem much to me, right? In case I forget something, I apologize …

I don’t want to force anyone to be eight thousand, but I have to tell the truth.

I hope all that changes soon, the Poles have a good chance of winter climbing on Broad Peak, G1 and K2. New routes on the west face of Annapurna, on the north of Kanchenjunga. High-speed climbing on Broad Peak and Cho Oyu awaits true climbers.

And this could be “our music” in the Himalaya and Karakorum.

Many thanks to Denis, Elena Laletina of russianclimb.com and Matteo Gallizioli for their kidness.

THE PERFECT ROUTE

The book : Review 

“The Perfect Way / Nanga Parbat : Mummery Spur” is the posthumous book by Daniele Nardi, written with Alessandra Carati (writer, editor and screenwriter) released in November 2019 for Einaudi , available only in italian edition.

The tragic death of the italian mountaineer and his English partner Tom Ballard at the end of February 2019 on the Mummery Spur of Nanga Parbat, has transformed what was to be the story of a long journey towards a dream, into an intimate autobiography, full of self-criticism, sincere and conscious, raw in the contradictions and bitter in the narrative of conflicts and recriminations with others ; at the same time, full of an unstoppable passion, full of love for his wife, friendship, esteem and respect towards the mountaineers with whom Daniele Nardi shared challenging climbs, successes and failures. A story full of falls and subsequent redemptions, against adversity far more fearsome than some Himalayan wall : diseases, both physical as psychic. All of this, narrated between mountaineering feats of increasing thickness, maybe not outstanding but often in remote environments, with real exploration, especially on less famous but iconic and difficult peaks between 6000 or 7000 meters, both in Karakorum as in Himalaya. 

The heavy emotional and moral burden of completing and publishing the book was taken on the shoulders of Alessandra Carati : without previous particular passion for the Mountains, much less towards extreme mountaineering, her acquaintance with Daniele Nardi – and with his family, his native environment – had turned into a friendship that led her to embark on the difficult winter trek to the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat, to share some days with . Alessandra wanted, not without hesitation and problems, to really try what extreme winter mountaineering meant. The motivation, she explained us in the following interview, was to understand what drives a man to live in brutal winter conditions, on colossal mountains. Nardi, in those days, showed her and then sent her an email saying that if he didn’t come back from the mountain he wanted her to finish writing the book. 

“Because I want the world to know my story”

The first, clear feeling at the end of the reading, is that Nardi has written a sincere story, a true “naked self portrait” – unlike most books written by mountaineers, full of rhetoric, self-celebration or boring lessons of motivation , often lacking in self-analysis, a sight on their own contradictions and human miseries. This, together with the beautiful narrative style, is quite extraordinary, since one of Daniele Nardi’s biggest problems has always been the style of communication : often Gascon and slash, full of drama, over the top, bitter and sometimes lamenting, for the syndrome of isolation always suffered, he mountaineer “de Roma” [“born/of Rome”,ndR ] , nicknamed “Romoletto” [“the little king of Rome”,ndR] by Silvio Mondinelli, against the Northern Italian Alpinism entourage, With few sponsors and great difficulties in financing their own businesses.

 It is certainly thanks to the great craft of Alessandra Carati that the reading flows pleasant, pressing and exciting; the narrative system is well structured on the five attempts to climb the Mummery Spur of Nanga Parbat, the large index of rock that points straight to the summit from the base of the Diamir, surrounded by drainage channels, overlooked by huge glacial evenings, accessible only by a dangerous and cracked glacier. The beginning of these attempts is represented by an email, affectionate and concerned, of a friend of Nardi, the great Canadian mountaineer Louis Rousseau, who tries to dissuade the italian from the Project of the Mummery, with touching and impressive words and motivations.

The Mummery : dream and obsession of Daniele Nardi, around which the rest of life flows and takes place; for each of these trials, the mountaineer’s thoughtful gaze on the Diamir wall shifts and lingers on the events of his life, his training as a mountaineer, the first solitary on the Grandes Jorasses at 19, the result of an irrepressible and early passion, developed during the family’s summer holidays in the Alps, and matured almost as a self-taught, even on the crumbly and not easy northern walls of the Central Apennine, on the Gran Sasso and on the Shirt.

Able to reach Everest in 2004, albeit with oxygen, then the middle peak of Shisha Pangma without oxygen. In 2006 he climbed Nanga Parbat via Kinshofer route and Broad Peak. In 2007 he was a expedition leader on K2 and climbed to the summit without oxygen – but a fellow expeditioner, Stefano Zavka, never returns from the mountain, having reached the summit well after sunset. 

The book shows Nardi’s self-criticism, inexperienced in emergency management and especially the “after”, in communicating what happened to Zavka’s family. A ghost that will accompany him for a long time. The book continues with dry tales of past successes, does not linger on the mountaineering description of the climbs – except for the one that Daniele Nardi loved most, the new route traced on Baghirathi III with Roberto Dalle Monache, way not finished on the summit but remarkable in its development and difficulties on one of the most beautiful and coveted Himalayan peaks. 

Paradoxically, winning the prestigious Italian Alpine Academic Club Council Award for this route, Nardi writes in the book that here begin “interference” to the pure love for the exploration of the high mountain : his desire to feel accepted and recognized by an environment that does not consider it as much as it would like, its desire for revenge, the need for visibility begin to affect its mind.

 1 – Kinshofer 2 – Mummery Spur 2013 Nardi/Revol 3 – Messner 1978 4 – Allen,Allan route to summit from Mazeno 5 -Allen,Allan Mazeno attempt 

The story of the attempts to realize his dream, the way of the Mummery Spur- a goal for which he was mocked, blamed as suicidal, exalted, deluded even after death – continues between beautiful pages of mountain : especially in the story of the first attempt, 2013, teamed up with the great French mountaineer Elizabeth Revol; The duo reached the highest point ever reached on the Mummery, 6450 meters, about 250 meters from the end of the technical difficulties and the exit of the Sperone on the “great basin”, the plateau at 7000 meters, between the impressive columns, severe and dangerous, of the glacial evenings Incumbent.   Then some words on the missed teaming up with Tomek Mackiewicz and Elizabeth Revol, the conflict of visions and objectives that separates them at Diamir Base Camp; conflict that is mitigated, by the fine words that Nardi reserves to both, full of great affection and esteem.

The fourth chapter – dedicated to the resounding breakage with Alex Txikon and Ali Sadpara at the beginning of 2016 , his partners on previous year during the attempt of First Winter, failed two hundred meters below the summit – is a very detailed account of an “announced conflict” : the Nardi’s attempts at mediation between Bielecki and Txikon, being the spanish worried by economical trouble, the incident on the wall where he saved the life of Bielecki himself ; Nardi’s obvious lack of motivation for Kinshofer route, the first conflicts with Txikon and Sadpara and mutual distrust, immediately, with Simone Moro ; the failure of Elizabeth Revol and Tomek Mackiewitz bid, when at about 7300 meters, with the concrete prospect of a successful summit  through the Messner-Eisendle route, they retreated after receiving from Moro weather forecasts revealed to be quite incorrect, perhaps the strangest event that year . This, confirmed by Filippo Thiery, meteorologist of Nardi, who told him that good weather was expected for 3 days ; he did not understand how Karl Gabl – a renowned meteorologist, Moro trusted expert – could have failed those forecasts [see the forecasts of these days]. While the French and the Polish quickly descended on January 22th, on January 25th Nardi, Txikon and Sadpara were at C3, at 6700meters, in good weather. And the Revol left the Nanga: she ran out of expedition time. The polemic and breaking tail between Mackiewicz and Moro was even bitterer  [see Sources (1),(2),(3),(4),(5) below]

Then Moro and Lunger’s decision to join Kinshofer route. Daniele Nardi waited three years before explaining how he felt he came first to the decision, then to the break with the rest of the team, handing Carati the recordings of the dialogues at Base Camp and its version. Absolutely questionable version, of course, and biased : but in the book there is also this. And there is further criticism of Moro for letting Tamara Lunger retreat alone, in distress, on the fateful day of the First Winter on Nanga Parbat.

At the time, following that daily expedition, I was not surprised by the distrust of Nardi by Txikon, Sadpara and finally Simone Moro, until his ousting from the team . But no one emerges undepended from errors and ambiguous behaviors, in this chapter, albeit with different nuances. It is, of course, his own version:  however, and it’s not negligible, the dialogues are faithful transcriptions of audio recordings – Nardi admitted it was questionable, but not illegal –  according to the co-author and that the publisher Einaudi considered their publication lawful and transparent

 To date, several articles from the specialized press on the book have been published; it is curious, euphemistically speaking, to note that any journalist had the curiosity to speak about or ask questions about this uncomfortable, bitter, questionable chapter which  is an important part of the book that Nardi wrote. 

Is up to the reader each thought or judgment on his own, about an issue that will no longer change anything : History is written and has erased old controversies.  Nevertheless, this chapter of Nardi’s life reveals an unpleasant side that is generally preferred to conceal; it strips mountaineering from its supposed idealization, its being not exempt, as no human social activity is, from great rivalries, dirty games, miseries and opportunism. On the contrary: it amplifies to the extent of merits, qualities and fears, defects. Of all, no one excluded. 

Certainly, Nardi was not capable of diplomacy and self-control confronting with more experienced climbers, during expedition. He paid a high price for this, even in terms of credibility. It must be said.

 Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi. Nanga Parbat

The chapter of the “Fourth Attempt” continues with the story of the acquaintance with Tom Ballard, who sought Daniele Nardi, interested in his type of mountaineering: a friendship that was welded in 2017, in a interesting expedition to the remote Kondus Glacier, in Karakorum ; the duo climbed  a rock route on an unknown 6000 peak in the Area, and an attempt on an iconic 7000 meter mountain, the Link Sar. The pair, after having opened over 1500 meters through a tricky glacier , until the first difficulties of the North East wall, will have to withdraw due to continuous avalanches and bad weather. Then there is the painful chapter of the Tomek tragedy and the rescue of Elizabeth on Nanga Parbat winter early 2018, when Daniele contributed concretely to the rescue efforts, coordinating and involving all his Pakistani contacts and providing useful information. The thoughts about Tomek, his personality and his intimate dreamer soul are very touching.

In the final chapter, the book’s narrative register changes: Alessandra Carati tells the story in the first person.

She retraces the trek to Base Camp, the difficulties and the frost, her intimate experience as a woman in the relationship with the locals, the enormous esteem and respect that all Pakistanis pay to Daniel, the delivery of materials and humanitarian goods in the very poor villages between Skardu and Diamir Valley; the friendship and good humour between Tom and Daniel, the fearful avalanche rumbles that dumped the mountain “whose bulk covers the sky and overwhelms you immensely”. Then the return to Italy, Daniel’s confident messages and those worried about the material buried by the avalanches.

Until the decisive moment : there is a window of discreet time, it is February 22nd, now for a month now the two are stopped at Base Camp, training on the sass doing drytooling, walking up only to Camp 1. They start with great determination, until the fateful 24th February, where they climb 300 meters of speron from the 6000m of the C4, a curtain in the wall. They are optimistic, full of joy that they communicate to Alessandra for satellite, they found the sack hanging on the wall, at the top. But they tried perhaps too much in the previous two days, with a pull and so much load of materials for the decisive attack. And the final hours, the silence. 

The epilogue we know, Alex Txikon generously leaves K2 with a team to rescue and search for Daniel and Tom. After terrible days, between reconnaissance on foot and with drones, while a bad media debate rages, where Messner, then Moro and others claim the safety that the two were buried by an avalanche, that the road was almost suicidal [ see links in Sources] Tom was involved in a feat which was not his own and was not to be done as the first experience out of a 8000ers peak, the fan-tribes dividing and arguing on Social etc – the two unfortunate climbers were spotted by telescope, dead, not killed by an avalanche but hanging on the ropes, in perfect visibility even after 10 days since the accident, probably victims of a rappel accident and/or hypothermia. Their last phone call was reportedly at 8 pm on February 24th, at Base Camp: Daniel said they were coming down the wall, the conditions were terrible. Whatever the reason for leaving the tent and knowing that probably hypothermia was waiting for them into darkness, it was obviously a tragic , extreme and ultimate necessity.

The short epilogue is a touching testimony of life, of pure and sublime sensations on the Nanga and ends like this:

“at least once in a lifetime, everyone should meet a Daniele Nardi who with a smile urges you to go and see what there is beyond the line of the horizon, and to walk with him on the glacier”

Daniele Nardi came out of the scene with his flaws, his humanity as abrupt, distrustful, difficult and sometime ambiguous ; at the same time, as expansive, positive, full of love and an irrepressible passion for mountaineering and constant challenge in facing oneself’s demons. A burning passion that costed him a short life, but not lived unconscious . 

A life that deserves respect, which arouses and provokes discussions but a worthy life: a man, a mountaineer who had courage both in the mountains and in testifying, above all, of his most intimate weaknesses without stopping to think positive, to try to get up at every fall to start over and improve; that in the history of Mountaineering will remain as the one who attempted “an incredible winter route, a direttissima, a fucking visionary route on one of the most feared mountains in the world” – as the mountaineer Louis Rousseau wrote to us: the Mummery Spur Route .

 

Interview with co-author : Alessandra Carati 


Alessandra, yours is a solid resume of writing experiences for film and theatre and then as editor and ghost writer on very varied publishing projects; in 2016 you co-authored, with the cyclist Danilo Di Luca, of his autobiographical book “Beasts of Victory”, a harsh act of accusation (and self-incrimination) , of those who no longer have anything to lose and can finally speak in true freedom of the “system” against the huge problem of doping, an intimate unveiling of an athlete who confronts the hypocrisy of those who expelled him from the environment (disqualified for life) as a unique scapegoat of what seems an intolerable tangle of collective interests in sport.

 I mention your literary curriculum because I have the idea that in part the meeting with Daniele Nardi has involved you and convinced you to work with him, for his experience – equally problematic, also for several reasons – in the environment to which he dedicated his life : Mountaineering. Is that so? What was, however, the decisive drive – for an author absolutely distant and not involved by a personal passion for the mountains – to undertake the writing of a book with a mountaineer ?

When I approached Daniel’s story, I didn’t know mountaineering and I didn’t know anything about the quality of the environment. I chose to embrace the project because Daniel intrigued me. As I wrote in the book and like many other people, I wondered why someone chose to test themselves so a mountain of 8000 meters, in winter, five times in a row. I wanted to understand what moved him, intimately and as a human being.

Reading the book, I found Daniel’s courage extraordinary for Daniel’s raw and sincere self-analysis, which spares no unpublished details about his period of depression and burnout, he does not discount mistakes in private life as well as those in some shipments, because of his character. Yet, the positive side, of pure sincere, gascon and empathetic passion emerges and is appreciated. How did you experience this contradictory aspect of Daniel? 

Daniel was so many things together. Writing, fortunately, resists the temptation to simplisticly reduce people and protects against judgment. In doing so, it allows us to understand more, to accept more, to love more. 

While working on the book, did you have to argue with him about how he wanted to expose his emotions, his ideas and the events that happened in the great mountains of Karakorum and the Himalayas?

There was no time to discuss the form with which to build the narrative. We worked together in the collection and choice of materials, then I proceeded to write alone, with all the decisions that come with it.

I cannot avoid to address to you a very sensitive and burning issue. Since the book came out, I have read articles and reviews but for anyone who has read it, there has been an almost total and deafening silence on a precise part: The Attempt Four, that is the 2015-2016 expedition with Txikon and Sadpara, lived between bitter polemics ; what surprised him, at the time, is that Daniel defended himself very tenaciously only from the accusations of Txikon (later turned out to be rather labile and unfounded) of non-financial contribution or even of having “invented” the fall on the Kinshofer wall . Daniel did not respond, punctually, to Moro’s strong accusations.This weighed heavily in the collective judgment towards him. As Daniel himself writes.

In the book it’s striking to read the brutal and polemical dialogues of what happened. And these dialogues differ from Moro and Txikon’s versions. I listened to your interview on Alessandro Milan’s broadcast on Radio24, where you say that the dialogues are written “to the comma” because they come from the recordings that Nardi made in the common tent, while the final meeting was taking place with all others. You said this was not illegal at all, so much so that Einaudi has assessed it as publishable without censorship. Do you confirm that? Has anyone contacted you to specify or disprove what is written? What do you think of the reaction of the press, by the way?

The scenes of the fourth attempt, which take place in the tent and which include Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, Tamara Lunger, Ali Sadpara and of course Daniele, have been reconstructed entirely from the recordings that Daniel had made. I did not draw the jokes and their content from a story mediated by Daniel, but directly and faithfully from the audio. They are the voices of the protagonists.

For example, there is a detail of the story on which conflicting versions have been given, and it is the way it happen the join the two expeditions. Moro stated publicly, in his book “Nanga” and in some interviews, to have been invited by Alex Txikon, while in the audio he repeats several times that it is he who asks to be allowed to join the Kinshofer team, so much so that it insists on how much money has to pay for the material and the work done in equipping the mountain. It is a subtle, yet substantial, difference because it defines the relationships of force, weights and the balance within the team that will attempt the first winter of Nanga Parbat.

No one has so far asked in any way for that part of the book, much less talked about it on printed reviews. Honestly, if I were a journalist, I’d be intrigued, I’d ask questions.

Let’s talk about to the most exciting and painful part, the one you practically wrote yourself. The final attempt: your decision to trek and spend days at Base Camp to really experience a winter expedition; the atmosphere between Daniel and Tom, the long waits and the tragic ending. How did you go through those terrible days? Have you thought about quitting everything, despite Daniel’s request in his famous email?

During the weeks of the rescue the project of the book did not even touch me, each energy, each thought were for Daniele and Tom. I was distressed to know how to lose them inside the gigantic Nanga massif. And then there was Daniela and Mattia [Nardi’s son,NdR], I couldn’t even imagine what they could feel at the time. Later I was tempted to let it go, but the will expressed by Daniele was very clear and his mandate nailed me. I gave him my word.

What conclusion, if ever, have you elaborated in your soul, about Daniel’s life and death?

I have no conclusions, no ideas, let alone opinions, about Daniel’s death. Everything I’ve touched, guessed and tried to shape is inside the book. Each reader can move from there to let the feeling with which to look at his figure, his life.

Interview with Louis Rousseau 

 Louis Rousseau

Louis Rousseau is one of the strongest Canadian climbers. He was born in 1977 in Quebec and began to climb at 15 years old. Between 1999 and 2010 he climbed many peaks in the Andes, accumulating experience on the 6000ers. From 2007 he began to climb the great mountains of the Karakorum and the Himalayas, opening a partial new route on Nanga Parbat in 2009 ; he tried a new winter route on the South face of Gasherbrum I. He climbed Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak and attempted K2 several times. He climbed 7000ers peak as the Khan Tengri and the Tilicho Peak. Always without oxygen, pursuing the alpine style and following a very strong climbing ethic. His climbing partners on high altitude expeditions were Adam Bielecki, Gerfried Goschl, Alex Txikon, Rick Allen and many others.

How did you meet , if you did it live, with Daniele ?

 I never met Daniele in person. Since 2015 we had sporadic contact via internet. I heard about Daniele after the 2011 Bhagirathi route and the 2013 winter attempt with Elizabeth Revol.  After that, Alex Txikon contacted me to join him, Daniel and Ali Sadpara for the winter attempt of Nanga Parbat in 2016. I said no. Daniele invited me for the Nanga 2019 attempt but again I refuse and I tried to convince him no to go again. During the expedition we had regular contacts via WhatsApp especially when they lost a lot of equipment. I propose to send some equipment from my deposit in Pakistan. After all, it was ok, they had the essential to continue their ascent.

 What do you think about Daniele, what impressions and feelings gave him to you – as climber first, then as a man? 

Really motivated and goal oriented climber. He could climb hard technical routes as much as perform very well in high altitude. During our conversation, I could see that he was a real nice guy. Very idealistic and a dreamer who always want to improve and be a better version of himself. During our last conversation he told me one important thing, that he wanted: “to try to help people to change their life by inspiring them.» So for sure Daniele was a man who wanted to change the world around him, it was not about alpinism, collecting summits or seeking for first ascents, it was way more than about is own person.

I know he asked you to join in for his Nanga dream; then, you have some correspondence before telling him that you choose not to go in and asked him to rethink about it.  Can you explain me, after your experience of a partial new-route on Nanga in 2009, what drove you to the feeling that you have done, with that mountain?

I will start my answer with something I wrote to Daniele : “You’ll find it a bit esoteric, but I believe in the curse of the killer mountain. There is something with Nanga Parbat that blinds us climbers and draws us even more towards danger compared to the other 8000m.” I think it is because of all the folklore around this mountain. When you start to read a lot about it, it turns into fascination and passion. It is really attractive and you want to go. Then, when I was there in 2009, two people lost their lives and there was a lot of discord after that. The recent history of winter attempts is also filled with discord, accidents, backstage games and now deaths. It is a real tragedy. There is no other words to describe the past few years. Just think of the 2013 terrorist attack. I saw Daniele go back into this again and I wanted to do something to discourage him. I asked him if he wanted to find a completely different and positive project with me, but he told me that : “if I change idea and I want to join him and Tom, to let him know.”

Do you think that danger starts, for a climber, in the moment he got too much emotional about a mountain, a goal ? 

For a climber, danger starts as soon as he step inside the jeep that will bring him at the beginning of the trail going to base camp, that means at the very beginning of the expedition there is dangers. Mountaineering is an extremely dangerous sport. There are not many other sports in which you go on a vacation and you come back without your friend. Even if you are “too much emotional” about a project or a mountain, that does not mean that you are more in danger. Can this influence our decision-making? Certainly yes, or when there are other goals than climbing and feeling free, even goals that you don’t admit to yourself. You are always going to bring on an expedition the things that are not settled at home. Nothing that you will do in the mountains can resolve them, on the contrary.

I know that Daniele and Tom were professionals and they had the experience to climb Nanga Parbat in winter by a new route, but they unfortunately had a terrible accident. We will never know exactly what happened and it is terrible for the families. More than anything, we will never know their state of mind before the accident. Was it a distraction, was it a result of bad decisions like several accidents in the mountains? We do not know. What we do know is that the two climbers had strong experience and they completed each other very well in their team. Daniele had a solid high altitude and winter expedition background and Tom was one of the best technical climbers in the world. I don’t think their emotional state has anything to do with their death. It was a tragic accident.

 

References and Sources

Daniele Nardi 

Nanga Parbat ed Elizabeth Revol, Mummery Spur 1st attempt : http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212505/Nanga-Parbat-Diamir-Face-Mummery-Rib-winter-attempt

Translimes Expedition with Tom Ballard, Kondus Glacier, Link Sar :

http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201214726/Kondus-Glacier-Link-Sar-Northeast-Face-Attempt-Fiost-Brakk-and-Other-Ascents

Farol West,unclimbed peaks in Karakorum :

http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201212928/Margheritas-Peak-5400m-South-Ridge-Open-Eyes-K7-West-6615m-Southwest-Pillar-Attempt-Farol-West-6370m-West-Face-Telegraph-Road

Baghirathi III :

https://www.planetmountain.com/it/notizie/alpinismo/bhagirathi-il-report-della-via-di-nardi-e-delle-monache.html

Thalay Sagar, with Alex Txikon, Ferran Latorre e altri :

http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201213829/Thalay-Sagar-Northwest-Ridge-Partial-New-Route

Tom Ballard 

The Six Northern Alps Great Walls, winter , solo :

https://www.planetmountain.com/it/notizie/alpinismo/tom-ballard-completa-le-sei-nord-delle-alpi-in-inverno-ed-in-solitaria.html

Drytooling, the most difficolt route so far :

https://www.planetmountain.com/it/notizie/alpinismo/tom-ballard-libera-una-via-di-d15-in-dolomiti-il-grado-di-drytooling-piu-difficile-al-mondo.html

Tomek Mackiewicz 

The long post after 2016 Nanga Expedition :

http://czapkins.blogspot.com/2016/06/witajcie.html

Simone Moro

on Mummery, Nardi and Ballard

https://www.desnivel.com/expediciones/expediciones-alpinistas/simone-moro-intentar-el-espolon-mummery-en-invierno-es-como-jugar-a-la-ruleta-rusa/

https://www.desnivel.com/expediciones/simone-moro-sobre-la-ruta-que-intentaban-daniele-nardi-y-tom-ballart-en-el-nanga-parbat-el-espolon-mummery-es-casi-suicida/

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/partner-of-lost-climber-tom-ballard-was-obsessed-with-killer-mountain-mtmzkflhr

on Nardi , 2016 expedition 

https://www.montagna.tv/93793/nanga-parbat-la-verita-di-simone-moro-a-filippo-facci/

http://alpinistiemontagne.gazzetta.it/2016/11/28/come-si-arrivo-alla-rottura-con-nardi/

Reinhold Messner

 https://www.ladige.it/news/cronaca/2019/03/09/tragica-morte-ballard-nardi-reinhold-messner-gl-iavevo-detto-non-andarci

Mckiewitz/Revol and the aborted summit bid due to ..bad weather

(1) 19th January 2016 : “Decisive days on Nanga.Tomek Mackiewitz & Elizabeth Revol spotted the colouir leading to the summit pyramidal [..]”

https://www.facebook.com/groups/185186314867223?view=permalink&id=1058684744184038

(2) 22th January 2016 : “Tomek and Elizabeth are at 7400 still climbing up[..]Alex,Alì & Daniele are at C2[..]”
(3) 23th January 2016 : “Simone Moro said that Tomek &Elizabeth are at 7300mt  and weather is worsening.So, their Summit bid was aborted [..]”

about Mummery tragedy, previously published 

http://montagnamagica.com/la-tragedia-sullo-sperone-mummery-fanatismi-e-alpinismi/

K2: a Fort for Txikon, reinforcements for the Russians and the wait for good weather

The two expedition on the K2 do not have any kind of human contact or technical exchange. A pity but it was predictable.

The abysmal differences in strategy, as well as cultural and personal ones, have become widely manifest in the last 20 days, when the action on the mountain has been reduced to the minimum due to the continuous bad weather.

However, the Russians-Kyrgyz-Kazakhs have continued rotations between Base Camp, Advanced Base and up to Camp 2, bringing materials and maintaining a minimum level of acclimatization; moreover, unlike Txikon, they have already practically passed the Black Pyramid and have the material ready to set up the upper Camps, the C3 at about 7300 meters and the C4 on the shoulder, at about 7950 meters.

Black Pyramid zone, russian team shot

Alex Txikon has chosen not to move, and not to move any of his Sherpa, even in the presence of moderate bad weather. His strategy is “save energy for when there will come the good weather”. In the meantime, he kept busy by setting up a “wall” of ice, on the principle already used to build the igloos, to protect the tents from the strong winds expected in the last days; the visual effect … is that of a military fort!

The Txikon Wall built at BC

The team of the Russians-Kyrgyz-Kazakhs led by Braun and Plivstov remained in action, though obviously reduced, after February 1, when the team had equipped until the 7200 meters of the Black Pyramid zone; in these 20 days, rotations were made up to C1 and a bet to C2, moreover 3 Kazakh mountaineers arrived at Base Camp, thanks to a late sponsorship.

In an interesting interview with Wspinaie.pl, the great Polish mountaineer Leszek Cichy, geodesist expert and protagonist, among others, of the first winter at Everest with Krzysztof Wielicki in 1980, expresses his thoughts on the strategies of the teams, about the terrain that will challenge the team between the Black Pyramid (which he faced in the winter 1987-88) and the summit of K2, in a very sharp way :

“The Black Pyramid does not present great technical difficulties but it is long, compared to the Tatra I would say a III / IV degree, moreover there are many ropes, not particularly ruined given the exposure and the rocky area, which allow a fairly fast progression in good condition “

Black Pyramid zone, russian team shot

“… the real problem will be in the area between C3, at the end of the Black Pyramid and the Shoulder: there are about 700-800 meters of route that, from the sketches and stories of Denis Urubko in the last attempt [last winter,ndR]  is considerably full of crevasses and dangerous, depending on the presence of snow or ice, and it could be difficult to find the right path “

On acclimatization: “the Russians, if they think they are going to climb by the end of February – that they consider the real end of winter – they need to sleep at least one night over 7000 meters.. “.

But it is speaking of Alex Txikon that Cichy is lashing: “his two expeditions to Everest and what he has done so far to K2, that is to remain almost always at Base Camp, show that something with him is really wrong, either is logistics, or strategic…he’s not prepared at all, he never managed to climb even the Everest South Saddle [..] now he and his team have no acclimatization, which is only [gained] by making active efforts ; putting the fixed parallel ropes has been insane. “

Also Denis Urubko expressed his thoughts in a similar way, and he is convinced that none of the 2 teams will manage to climb by February 28th, the end of Winter for the mountaineer of Kazakh origin. In a newly released interview, Denis said he was rather tired of 8000ers expeditions, and he think he will do three more before retiring: one at Gasherbrum II this summer to make a new route, one at Broad Peak in winter and in two years the decisive one, at K2 winter..

“The good mountaineer is the old mountaineer,” said Urubko, who in this winter has perfected himself on rock in Patagonia with his partner Pipi Cardell.

In the next days  is  predicted a rather long window of good weather, all to be confirmed  – both on K2 and Nanga, and soon we will see if there are minimal chances of success by one of the teams present ..

 Nanga Parbat : snow, snow and snow again

A brief update from Nanga Parbat: Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard have been practically stopped for over 2 weeks at the Base Camp, except for a few run at C1 and one at C2 (5700 meters), to dig up the bag with the material.

                  toward c2 foto Nardi

At Nanga the amount of snowfall has been considerable, even if normal for the season; above all, in the short windows of good weather, the two could not move much for the avalanches resulting from the accumulations, very dangerous right in the C2-C3 area, at the base of the Mummery Spur.

In the meantime, bearers arrived with supplies of food and technical gear [the duo lost lot of material buriedby snow  at Mummery bottom] , hoping to be able to climb the Mummery in speed during a good weather window.

                       tom ballard foto Nardi

The acclimatization is now lost, even if the two remain very positive and active at Base Camp, where Nardi and Ballard often train in drytooling on Boulder boulders and lately Tom Ballard in a nice downhill skiing from a side gully of Nanga

Tom Ballardsaid :

“This expedition seems more and more a nice holiday, we are well at Base Camp, we always find new problems of drytooling on the boulders around, and lately I had a lot of fun skiing on magnificent snow …”

Even for them, waiting for a window long enough in good weather is the dream of the moment …