Winter Climb of Shishapangma

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Here’s one for the history books: The Tibetan giant Shishapangma (8,027 meters) has received its second “first winter ascent” of the season. Piotr Morakski of Poland and Simone Moro of Italy reached the top Jan. 14 in hurricane-force winds. It was a sweet victory for the two men, who attempted Shishapangma last winter and almost summited, but then retreated in the face of a nearly certain bivouac at 8,000 meters. In mid-December, the Frenchman Jean-Christophe Lafaille soloed a route on the South Face of Shishapangma, reaching the top on Dec. 11. Lafaille has claimed the first winter ascent of the peak despite the fact that the calendar winter begins Dec. 21, saying that the mountain was already in winter conditions and that the official Himalayan winter-climbing season begins Dec. 1. Regardless of which climb is awarded the first winter ascent by historians, this is the first time a non-Polish climber has made an 8,000-meter peak’s first cold-season climb. Seven other 8,000-meter peaks have been climbed in winter, and all for the first time by Poles. (And, of course, a Pole reached the top Jan. 14.) The last 8,000-meter peak to get its first winter asecnt was Lhotse in 1988.