2019/20 Winter Himalaya Climbs: Moro Escapes Death & Ends Gasherbrum Attempt

If you climb long enough in icy, crevassed terrain, you or a teammate will fall in a crack. It happened to Simone Moro on Monday, January 20, 2020, in the Icefields at the base of Gasherbrum.  Thankfully he and his partner knew what to do.

Basically, it appears a snow bridge collapsed under Moro’s boots after Tamara had walked over it. This is not uncommon. It happened to me on Everest outside of Camp 1 in 2001. He fell into the crevasse about 20 meters/65 feet pulling her to within 50 centimeters/ 1.5 feet of the gap. She held his full weight plus pack, around 90 kg/198 pounds, for 2 minutes while he put an ice screw in to relieve the load. He then spent two hours slowly crawling out of the crevasse using a technique called piolet traction where you hold your ice axe by its shaft near the base, swing overhead and plant the pick firmly but carefully in the ice. Do the same with the other tool and then work your feet upward. It’s slow, tedious and exhausting.

They were both evacuated by a Pakastani military helicopter and are now back in Skardu seeking medical checks. The expedition is officially over.

Simone gave this detailed update on Facebook:

All’s well that ends well.

Without going too far around the concept, yesterday we really came just a breath away from a tragic and disastrous epilogue for both Tamara and me.

We were planning to spend two nights on the mountain, reach camp 1, sleep there and then head to camp 2 the next day.

We were FINALLY out of the icefall, we had passed the last big crevasse and proceeded to the summit plateau. Always tied up because we knew that the crevasses were always lurking and antennas were always straight but the morale was high and the satisfaction of having overcome everything.

The big ice maze.

But the day was not over and what lay ahead was terrible.

Approaching a crevasse I put myself in position as always to secure Tamara who first crossed it and then moved into the safety zone, 20 meters beyond the crevasse.

Then it was my turn and after a split second, a chasm opened under my feet and I fell. Tamara suffered such a violent tear that she literally flew to the edge of the crevasse while I free falling upside down for 20 meters banging back legs and buttocks on the blades of ice suspended in the endless gut where I continued to descend. No more than 50 cm wide, in complete darkness.

Above Tamara had the rope wrapped around her hand and held it like a vice and caused her excruciating pain and numbness. I was in the dark and she was slowly sliding down the edge of the crevasse. All complicated by the fact that she had snowshoes on her feet. I managed with one hand to put a very precarious first anchorage and, while feeling myself slowly descending towards the abyss, I had the lucidity to take the ice screw I had in my harness and secure it in the smooth and hard wall of the crevasse. That screw stopped me from slipping and probably pulling down Tamara into the crevasse.

From there, without going into details, we invented the way out. Almost two hours later. hours of contortion and an excruciating effort I was able to climb up in piolet traction the whole crevasse, completely in the dark and squeezed between two walls 50 cm wide.

Shivering and with a thousand bruises I hugged Tamara who was also crying from the pain in her hand. While I was climbing she had managed to organize a nice recovery stop and to secure me while I was climbing the 20 endless meters of smooth ice. We descended to base camp, who had already been alerted and reassured by radio.

Today I organized the evacuation with a request for medical checks for both of us. Today the pains are obviously stronger and Tamara’s hand is partially numb out of use.

[ Simone’s Team ]

Crevasses near Gasherbrum Winter 2019:20. Courtesy of Tamara Lunger

Lunger posted this update on Instagram along with a great photo:

Maybe I need to adjust my goals? Sometimes you may want too much, but yesterday it wasn’t like that at all! We just wanted to go up and sleep in our camp 1.

We were fast and happy and we crossed the ladder and the weather was getting worse, but now we were just a stone’s throw away from the safe landing!  Finding the route seemed easier than ever and as always we were careful. But then, after I crossed the crack and did that steep bit, I stopped. I was about to do the half boatman to get Simone to come, he took his first step and suddenly disappeared into the hole. My hand got stuck in the rope and I flew half a meter away from the hole. I did everything and more, time seemed endless and in the end, I could forget the thoughts of death, thank God! We both worked at our best to get Simone out of his 20 mt. flight!

We’re safe now! The hand paid heavily, as I held on to my thumb, 90 kg of Simone plus the backpack for at least 2 min. I screamed like I was being killed, and I knew what was going to happen… I faced all the work with one hand, between trust and tears.

Again, we’re safe! Simone has organized the evacuation and medical checks. Let’s see!

Winter 2019/20

Everest At 6000 meters


Broad Peak, then K2?

  • Denis Urubko – Tagged 6700 meters, back at BC

Gasherbrum I/II

  • Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger – Over

Ama Dablam

  • Zoltán Szlankó, Alex Goldfarb

Climb On!
Memories are Everything


Share this post:

4 thoughts on “2019/20 Winter Himalaya Climbs: Moro Escapes Death & Ends Gasherbrum Attempt

  1. So was Tamara not ready for the crossing – that is why her hand got stuck with the rope and is now numb? I’m trying to picture what was happening….

    1. She was ahead, rope in hand. When he fell, the momentum pulled her off her feet but she, amazingly, stopped just before the crevasse, never letting go of the rope and then clinched it until he could get his weight off the rope.

Comments are closed.