First Winter Ascent of an 8000m Peak in Pakistan

Posted on: February 2, 2011

The Gasherbrum-Broad Peak group seen from high on K2 to the north. (A) Gasherbrum I (B) Gasherbrum II (C) Gasherbrum III (D) Gasherbrum IV (E) Broad Peak Central (F) Broad Peak Central Foresummit (G) Broad Peak Main. (Photo) K2 Shared Summits Expedition

In a three-day push from base camp, Simone Moro, Cory Richards and Denis Urubko completed the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum II. On February 2 the team reached the summit of Gasherbrum II (8035m) in the remote Karakoram Range in northwest Pakistan.

"It has been very hard, but the three of us feel well," Simone reported from the summit. The team left their 6900m camp at 3 a.m. and reached the summit around 11:30 a.m. As weather conditions continue to deteriorate, they hope to descend to Camp 2 or 1 by this evening, before returning to base camp tomorrow.


Gasherbrum II is the thirteenth tallest peak in the world. The standard route follows the southwest ridge, relatively safe from avalanche and icefall hazards. GII is considered one of the easiest of all the 8000m peaks.

Despite poor weather and relentless cold, the team launched their summit bid early Sunday morning in anticipation of a weather window forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday. They reached Camp 1 Sunday night, and continued to Camp 2 on Monday. The weather, though still windy, began to improve and on Tuesday the team climbed to 7100 meters to establish their final camp.

The climb marks Simone Moro's third winter first on an 8000-meter peak. He was the first non-Pole to join the winter 8000m club when he climbed Shisha Pangma with Piotr Morawski in 2005. Moro then attempted Broad Peak over two consecutive winters, but after being shut down on both attempts he diverted his attention to Makalu in 2009, where he succeeded with current teammate, Denis Urubko.

The team is not alone this winter in the Karakoram, two other teams are attempting nearby peaks. On Broad Peak (8047m), a Polish team is working towards the summit, despite the evacuation of expedition member Arkadiusz Grzadziel due to pulmonary edema. Gasherbrum I is also being attempted, though the Canadian and Austrian team has only reached base camp after an eight-day trek up the Baltoro Glacier (for images of the Baltoro see Fabiano Ventura's photo essay in Alpinist 32).

Of the fourteen 8000m peaks, the five that have not been climbed in winter are all in Pakistan. The Polish took the first seven winter firsts on an eight-year marathon in the 1980s. Due to its remote location and notoriously atrocious weather, the Karakoram has resisted a winter ascent until now. Alex Txikon, a member of the Gasherbrum I team currently at base camp, said of the climb, "Simone has spent three winters here and I think he has fought a lot, we are super happy for him... if anyone deserved it, it was him."

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Keese Lane

Cory! Glad you guys made it down! Apologies about your nationality there. I hope you accept our joking birth certificate response. Best Wishes - Keese Lane

2011-02-07 03:10:36

Thanks all for your support and comments...very nice to see and read...and very much appreciated.

As my parent dutifully pointed out, I am American. I enjoyed three amazing years in the Canmore community and some of my closest friends live there still. However, I am, through and through, American.

As Keese points out, the 1988 incident was a tragic blunder. But, as it has been noted, it was not an actual ascent. Generally speaking, these things don't bother or concern me. However, in this situation when people begin to nit pick, details become extremely important...thus, that climb, no matter how amazing and close it was, did not become the first winter ascent of an 8000 m peak in the became the closest thing we had to amazing effort that should be celebrated and never ever overlooked. However, it was not the first winter ascent of one of the Pakistani 8000ers.

Cheers and thanks again...very humbling and much appreciated.


2011-02-05 17:27:29

Major props, kudos and high fives to congratulate them on such a huge achievement. Kitcourt, that is priceless. Though it maybe somewhat wise to travel under a Maple leaf internationally. Still some may need to be shown the birth certificate ha ha ha.

2011-02-04 02:46:08

Although Cory Richards lived in Canmore, Alberta, for a couple of years, he is definitely an American, born and raised! We should know...we're his parents. :)

2011-02-03 04:59:12
Keese Lane

@carlos We agree with your doubt and have edited the Newswire accordingly, until we can check Cory's birth certificate. @ deian from the link you posted "The nearest success on any of Pakistan's 8000-meter peaks dates back to March 6, 1988, when Maciej Berberka climbed solo to what he thought at the time was the summit of Broad Peak (at the time blowing snow obscured onward vision). Only when he was later shown photographs did he realize that he had stopped at the ca. 8030-meter rocky foresummit fewer than 20 meters lower than the main summit."

2011-02-02 23:36:57

The first who reached 8000m in Karakoram during the Winter season was the polish mountaineer Maciej Berbeka who climbed Rocky Summit (8030m) on March 6, 1988

2011-02-02 15:50:16


2011-02-02 13:42:57

Congratulations to the team! I have a doubt: Cory Richardson is really a canadian or american?

2011-02-02 09:45:30
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