One of the expeditions that I was most interested in following this season was Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger’s attempt to traverse the entire length of the Kangchenjunga Massif. Their daring climb was truly one of the most audacious and difficult announced for the spring of 2017, and I appreciated the fact that these two talented climbers were focusing their talents somewhere other than Everest. But news of their progress was sparse, and updates were few and far between, and now we’ve learned that they have dropped the curtain on this attempt and have headed home.
When last we checked in with the Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition – as the project was called – Simone and Tamara had turned back at 7000 meters (22,965 ft) due to Moro suffering from poor health. After spending a few days resting up, they launched a second attempt, only to reach 7200 meters (23,622 ft) before the illness caught up with the Italian climber for a second time. This time, Simone’s condition was so bad he had difficulty standing, which is obviously extremely dangerous at such high altitudes. Knowing that only rest and recovery at home would allow him to get better, the team decided to pull the plug on the expedition and head home.
The initial plan had been for the duo to make the highest and longest traverse on the planet, covering some 5.5 km (3.4 miles) across the four main peaks of Kangchenjunga, while climbing above 8400 meters (27,559 ft) for almost the entire time. They had planned on making the traverse in alpine style and without the use of bottled oxygen, which meant a very long period of time above 8000 meters without supplemental O’s.
Unfortunately, Simone and Tamara never got the chance to even come close to the 8000-meter mark. But, they say they aren’t quite ready to call it quits on this plan just yet. The mountain may have one this round, but they intend to learn from their experience and potentially come back at another time to try again. Moro is quoted as saying “We will keep everything we have learned this time on this mountain, as we did with the Nanga Parbat. It’s an ambitious goal … but nothing is impossible.”
So, for now, this big expedition is over and Simone and Tamara are headed home. Hopefully we’ll see them back again to give it another try when they are both feeling strong and healthy.