Simone Moro, Denis Urubko and Cory Richards are currently on expedition to Gasherbrum II, Pakistan.
The peak, which at 8035m is the 13th highest on Earth, has never been climbed in winter.
GII was first climbed by an Austrian expedition; Fritz Moravec, Josef Larch and Hans Willenpart reached the summit on July 8th 1956.
Simone Moro is the expedition leader and is a well known Italian alpinist, having been on over 40 expeditions,, including the first winter ascents of Shishapangma (2005) and Makalu (2009).
Denis Urubko is a Kazak alpinist and has been climbing with Simone Moro for 11 years. He was partnered with Moro when they both summited Makalu in the winter of 2009.
Cory Richards is an American alpinist and photographer, who will be climbing with Moro and Urubko and documenting the ascent.
The team have just reached base camp at 5000m using a military helicopter, but from here they are climbing alpine style - fast and light. If they succeed this will be the first winter ascent of an 8,000m peak in the Karakoram - without sherpas, porters, and oxygen.
In preparation for their ascent the team have just acclimatised on Khosar Gang (6400m).
Moro commented on the expedition blog:
"Today in a very stormy and cold weather we started from C1 for the summit push of Khosar Gang 6400m (but 6000/6100 in reality). We arrived very near to the summit on the col between the shoulder and the summit but I aborted the final effort because Cory was frozen and really in danger to get serious frostbite. So instead to send him down alone I ordered to Denis to stop in that place and go down all together. Cory appreciated a lot... and also Denis understood that Khosar gang was an acclimatization Peak and not our goal and it was important to stay all together avoiding serious risk like frostbite or get lost (it was cloudy and foggy with strong wind and I was not of the idea to leave cory alone coming down). Anyway now we are happy, safe, shaved and clean and in 2 days we should fly by helicopter to our real main goal. I and Denis feel very strong and also Cory is fit. Today for example we did 1200mt up and 4000 down.... The base of the mountain is 2000m and the top 6100m. We did nearly 7000m positive in very few days with no acclimatization..."
Gasherbrum II Time Line:
1956 First ascent
1975 Second ascent by a French group, 19 years after the first ascent. This expedition also saw the first death on Gasherbrum. Three other expeditions summit including a Polish women's team headed by Wanda Rutkiewicz.
1979 A Chilean and a German expedition succeed on the sixth and seventh ascents. The Chilean was the first Latin American climb an eight-thousander.
1982 Reinhold Messner reaches the top with two Pakistanis, Nazir Sabir and Sher Khan.
1983 Jerzy Kukuczka with Wojciech Kurtyka climb the Eastern Ridge - a new route. Alpine style ascent without the aid of oxygen.
1984 Messner and Hans Kammerlander traverse Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II without returning to base camp in between.
1984 First descent by ski by team CAF Besançon (France) lead by Daniel Croisot.
2005 Ski descent by Jørgen Aamot (Norway) and Frederik Ericsson (Sweden).
2007 Three Italians, Karl Unterkircher, Daniele Bernasconi and Michele Compagnoni, reach the top opening a new route on the north face, in alpine style.
VIDEO: GII Winter Expedition | Simone, Denis and Cory | The Beginning
VIDEO: GII Winter Expedition | Dispatch #1 | Flying into the heart of Karakorum
The Expedition is sponsored by The North Face