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Opinion: Lhotse, K2 and Puccini

Italian Marco Confortola is planning a Lhotse ascent, teaming up with Pasang Lama from the Bhote family – one of the Sherpas who saved Marco on K2 in 2008’s tragedy.

The heated debate following the August 1st, 2008 tragic events has not completely died off – for Confortola at least. According to journalist Matteo Elia, Marco is haunted not only by the ghosts of K2, but also by fellow mountaineers.

Elia foresees a new chapter to the story – on Lhotse. Here is his article, for ExplorersWeb:

K2, Act 2
By Matteo Elia

K2 is the Italian mountain misplaced in Baltistan. Seductive, volatile and loud, she’s as Italian as Vesuvius ever was. And if this mountain could sing, it would be in italiano.

Pit an Italian mountain with an Italian mountaineer, or worse, two or three Italian mountaineers, and the spectacle becomes as lush and operatic as Puccini.

Act 2, Scene I:

The red velvet curtain parts. Marco Confortola, K2 survivor and toeless folk hero, announces his comeback, climbing Lhotse in the spring. His detractors promptly enter stage left.

In an unsparing interview with Corriera della Sera, Reinhold Messner jabs Confortola for a late summit on K2 and an over-hyped comeback via a normal route. Simone Moro takes center stage, asserting Confortola embroidered his account of the K2 tragedy of 2008, when 11 mountaineers lost their lives. [Nota bene: In Act One, Moro attended the casketless funerals for Karim Meherban and Jehan Baig, porters who were killed.]

The show must go on

Confortola weeps and goes into seclusion, vowing to clear his name. “I am being persecuted like Bonatti,” he tells the papers. Then quietly, deliberately, he prepares to face Moro, who will also climb Lhotse this spring — via a new route.

After an excruciating First Act and brief Intermission, Act Two of K2 has begun.

August 1st, 2008 was to be one of the finest days on K2 ever. Eighteen climbers from nine countries summiting together in a joint effort between the Abruzzi and Cesen teams. But the first news was not good. A Serbian mountaineer (Dren Mandic) let some climbers pass him on the Bottleneck, lost his balance and fell down the face. Shortly after, Pakistani porter Jehan Baig slipped trying to recover Mandic’s body. Almost everybody else summitted, the first at 2 pm, and the last wave at almost 8 pm. This was, unfortunately, the eye of the hurricane.

At 9 p.m., a huge serac broke from the superior ice field and caused an avalanche that swept the Bottleneck and the upper slopes, taking the life of Norweigan polar explorer, Rolf Bae. Eight others were trapped in the Death Zone when the avalanche cut off the fixed ropes. At the end of August 2nd the obituary had 11 names.

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