Freedom, pain and redemption in the Karakoram

After his tragic mission in 2016, Italian crow Enrico “MoseMosetti was back in Pakistan to ski a new line deep in the Karakoram range this spring. He tells us about this feat, and an incredibly beautiful and steep first descent in this wild mountain range. 

blackcrows: Enrico, can you tell us how this project to ride a new steep line in the Karakoram range started?  

It all started with a post on Instagram a few years ago. I was just scrolling pictures on a rainy day of October, 2020 and this photo of crazy spines captured my mind. I took a screenshot and put it in the “dreams” folder. 

Last November, I was picking up old photos for a spring trip and that post popped up again. I started to do some research and found out where exactly the mountain was in the Karakoram range, and approximately how high.  

My first time in Pakistan was back in 2016, with my friend the mountain guide Carlo Cosi, long time ski buddy Zeno Cecon from Tarvisio, the village where I live, and my best friend and passionate photographer Leonardo Comelli. We skied Laila peak from about 100 meters under the summit, and Leo fell to his death on the final traverse to the high camp [see our january 2017 blackmail “Tragic end to Laila Peak expedition“].  

For this winter project, I was joined by Davide Limongi, an old friend and climbing partner of mine from Tarvisio, and also Giovanni Zaccaria, a moutain guide who lives in the Dolomites. 

Blackcrows: How did it feel to go back to Pakistan, especially after what happened last time? Was it a kind of revenge, a tribute to your dead friend, or for yourself to overcome something? 

Since this trip in 2016, I knew one day I would come back to Karakoram, at least to visit my friend who has been buried on the way to Laila peak base camp. 

I would not say it was a revenge, I don’t believe in the narrative of “killer moutains” or stuff like that. I’ve always been to the mountains to have fun, feel free, and be myself.  

At the same time, I thought I should come back to climb and ski something that would be meaningful as a tribute to my friend. The peak we were looking for was still unnamed – and probably unclimbed, but I have to confirm this – and we gave him the nickname of Leo, “Romboss peak”. 

It would be nice that this descent and coming back to Pakistan would overcome something that I really miss but I guess saying so would be a lie. I had a bittersweet feeling at the summit, a mix of tears and joy. Let’s say I experienced a little redemption and a new connection with the mountain. 

I don’t know if I make myself clear, I think it’s a confusing answer, but I guess I still have confusing feelings about it. 

blackcrows: A lot of skiers were in Karakoram this spring (Sam Favret, Lusti, Chamonix youngsters…), is there something special to be found there? 

Well, the fact that below 6000/6500m you don’t have to pay a permit could be a good reason to travel to Pakistan to climb and ski. But I think the main reason is that there are thousands of beautiful lines waiting to be skied in Karakoram, and with a bit of luck you can have amazing conditions at that altitude. That’s exactly what happened to us this time, with perfect spring powder… 


blackcrows: How long did it take to get there, and how did you get to the snowline? 

It has been quite simple to get to basecamp. From where the road ended, in two long days with porters we got to basecamp, and on the way back it only took one day. Snowline started at 3700 m, and at this first camp (4150m) we already had about 1.5m of snow. 

We hired 28 porters to take all the gear and food, most of the weight being food and kerosene for cooking. For example we carried 120 eggs for 6 days!  

blackcrows: A word about winter camping in the Karakoram? How different is skiing here from your home mountain, the Julian Alps?  

For the first mission, the biggest line (we attempted another one later), we decided to go straight from basecamp. We had to cross a glacier and the face just rose above it for 1500 meters. On the second peak we attempted, we camped at 5100 meters, struggling with the cold. One night our Garmin said -38°C! 

I guess if I have to camp outside in Julian Alps it would not be so much different apart from the altitude. But 99% of the stuff here you can do in one day, sometimes a really long one. 

blackcrows: What about this big line, a first descent in the Karakoram, how did it feel to summit and to ski? 

The line in total is 1500m long. Giovanni took his ski to the very summit and sidestepped carefully the first ridge and jump turned the first spine. Davide and I left the skis on a kind of pass at about 5250/5300m. From there the first 500 meters were about 55°-50°, then another 500 meters at 50°-45° and the final 300m were around 40°. A bit like taking two Lyskamm north faces one above the other. 

Since the snow was really good we were kind of relaxed for the skiing, the way up was the hardest part, especially because our acclimatization was not the finest. At the end we came back the fifth day at basecamp, with just one day of supplies left to come back. 

blackcrows: Can you tell a little bit more about your vision of high mountain skiing, and what is coming next? 

I’ve always considered myself a skier first, and then an alpinist. As most of us, I love to ski powder all winter from deep days in the trees to couloirs, but at the same time I love to climb and I have to say I love to suffer. 

I guess high mountain skiing is the perfect combo for these three aspects of my life. And you know, I love to get high too. 

But what probably mostly motivated me to continue to go on the other side of the world just to ski a bunch of peaks, and sometimes not even summit one, it is not the skiing or the climbing. Those are my excuses to travel, to explore new countries, new cultures, new food, to get in touch with the people, walk and talk with them, share a tea mug. To live among them and get disconnected from everything, that’s what really enrich the experience. And that’s what I hope makes me a better human being when I come back home. 

I never talk about future projects beforehand, but I can say the “dreams” folder is pretty full of pictures, from South America to the Himalayas. 

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