At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Simone Moro - mountaineer

Bergamo climber with unique record


Simone Moro has been climbing since he was 13 years old
Simone Moro has been climbing
since he was 13 years old
The mountaineer Simone Moro, who is the only climber whose list of achievements includes the first winter ascent of four of the so-called eight-thousanders, was born on this day in 1967 in the city of Bergamo in Lombardy.

The eight-thousanders are the 14 peaks on Earth that rise to more than 8,000m (26,247ft) above sea level. All are located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in Asia.

A veteran of 15 winter expeditions, he completed the winter ascent of Shisha Pangma (8,027m) in 2005, Makalu (8,485m) in 2009, Gasherbrum II (8,035m) in 2011 and Nanga Parbat (8,126m) in 2016.

He has scaled Everest (8,848m) four times, including the first solo south-north traverse in 2006. In total he has completed more than 50 expeditions, conquering peaks in Tien Shan, Pamir, Andes, Patagonia and Antarctica as well as the Himalayas and Karakorum.

Moro is also renowned for his courage and bravery. During his 2001 attempt on the Everest-Lhotse traverse, he abandoned his ascent at 8,000m and battled through the most dangerous conditions in darkness to save the life of British climber Tom Moores.

In recognition of his bravery, Moro was awarded a Civilian Gold Medal by the Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.   He was also awarded the Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy by UNESCO and the David A. Sowles Memorial Award from the American Alpine Club.

Makalu in the Himalayas - the highest of the four eight-thousanders Moro climbed in winter
Makalu in the Himalayas - the highest of the four
eight-thousanders Moro climbed in winter
An experienced helicopter pilot - the first European qualified to fly in Nepal - in 2013, Moro and two other rescue experts carried out the world's highest long-line rescue operation on a helicopter, on Lhotse, at 7800m.

In 2015, he set a new flight altitude world record in an ES 101 Raven, turboshaft powered helicopter reaching 6,705m.

Born into a middle-class family, Moro grew up in the borough of Valtesse, a suburb of Bergamo in a valley to the northeast of the Città Alta, between the elevated medieval part of the city and the Maresana Hill.

He had the enthusiastic support of his father, who was also a climber and a high-altitude biker, in his passion for the mountains and tackled the 2,521m (8,271ft) Presolana and other massifs of the Alpi Bergamasche when he was only 13.  There is a strong climbing tradition in the Bergamo area, which produced another famous mountaineer, Walter Bonatti.

Once had had graduated from university, he took on climbs in the Grigna - a massif in the province of Lecco, northwest of Bergamo, before attempting more ambitious climbs in the Dolomites.

Moro often makes public appearances to share his expertise and experiences
Moro often makes public appearances
to share his expertise and experiences
He did his military service at the Alpine Military School of Aosta, finishing his 15-month stint as a sub-lieutenant of the Alpini, the mountain troops of the Italian Army.

He participated in his first Himalayan expedition to Mount Everest in 1992 and the following year achieved the first winter ascent of Aconcagua in Argentina, at 6,960.8m (22,837 ft) the highest mountain in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres.

Moro has also used his own money to help various charitable projects, including the financing of a school for 396 Sherpa children in the isolated Nepalese village of Syadul.  Near the Nanga Parbat base camp, he built a small masonry building for the shepherds and a small hospital in the village of Ser.

He performs free rescue missions in the Nepalese area using a helicopter he bought with his own money in 2009.

Moro raises the funds for his missions by making frequent public appearances and providing motivational speeches. He has also written a number of books, including an autobiography entitled Devo perché posso - I Must Because I Can.

He is married to Barbara Zwerger and has two children, 19-year-old Martina and eight-year-old Jonas.  He still has a home in Bergamo.

The walled Città Alta is one of the two centres of Bergamo
The walled Città Alta is one of the two centres of Bergamo
Travel tip:

Bergamo, where Moro was born and grew up, is a fascinating, historic city with two distinct centres. The Città Alta, upper town, is a beautiful, walled city with buildings that date back to medieval times. The elegant Città Bassa, lower town, still has some buildings that date back to the 15th century, but more imposing and elaborate architecture was added in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Grigna massif in the province of Lecco
The Grigna massif in the province of Lecco
Travel tip:

The Grigna is a mountain massif in the province of Lecco, with an elevation of 2,410m (7,907ft). It is part of the Bergamo Alps, and it has two peaks, Grignone or Grigna settentrionale, the higher, and the lower Grignetta or Grigna meridionale (2,177m).  To the southwest, the Grigna massif descends precipitously towards an arm of Lake Como known as Ramo di Lecco (The Branch of Lecco). To the east, the mountain rises gently through fields and forested land into Valsassina. The northern side of the mountain, which is known for its many caves and crevices, leads to Passo del Cainallo and the town of Esino Lario.

More reading:

The Bergamo climber whose career was marred by a 50-year row

The climber from the Dolomites who conquered Everest

Riccardo Cassin - mountaineer and resistance fighter

Also on this day:

1952: The birth of Oscar-winning actor Roberto Benigni

1962: The death of controversial industrialist Enrico Mattei


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