None of the five 8,000 meter peaks of the Pakistani Karakoram Range have fallen to winter ascents, though strong teams have tried them. Excruciating cold, fierce winds, and the deprivations of camping for months in a frozen environment are the reason those attempts fell short of victory.
It’s a place where blue ice must be pick-axed from the glacier and melted over an unwilling kerosene stove just to have enough water for a cup of tea. And the fuel to boil it - as with all supplies - must be carried for a week to base camp on the backs of hired Balti porters.
Simone Moro and Denis Urubko are no strangers to this torturous lifestyle. In 2008, they made the first winter ascent of the Nepalese 8,000 meter peak Makalu. Now they have their sights set on another winter first: to climb both Gasherbrum 1 (8,068 meters) and Gasherbrum II (8,035 meters) in the winter of 2010. These two snowy giants – their names, in the Balti language, mean “beautiful mountain” - are adjacent to one another at the end of the Baltoro Glacier, on the border between Pakistan and China.
Ukrainian national Denis has already climbed all fourteen of the 8,000 meter peaks. Simone, an Italian, has climbed six of them, and he’s on track to complete the list in good time. They’re a proven team in the cold and at high altitude, and they’re part of The North Face Global Athlete Team.