“I am a dreamer in love with the mountains.” Tamara Lunger
It’s not every day that you get to go on a hike with Tamara Lunger, a woman who climbed her first 8,000-meter peak at 23 years old (Lhotse), attempted the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, paraglided in India’s western Himalayas, and explored one of the coldest and remotest places on earth, to cite just a few of her adventurous feats. (And she’s only 34!)
And yet, thanks to Dolomiti Walking Hotels, a group of lucky hotel guests got to experience a weekend with Tamara, hearing her recount her adventures and going on a beautiful hike through the woods and canyons of Italy’s Val di Non.
I was one of the lucky participants – being a lover of mountains and adventure myself, and a woman, this was an especially inspiring encounter. Here’s the scoop on the event!
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“Overcoming fear thanks to nature” – Tamara Lunger
On Saturday morning, May 8, our group left on foot from Pineta Nature Resort. The energy was palpable and everyone was eager to ask Tamara questions about how she trains, what life is like at base camp, what her next projects are, how it feels to be a female alpinist in a world still largely dominated by men (“I never complain and I act in a way that proves I am just as capable as they are,” she said).
All this while we walked down towards the Sanctuary of San Romedio, one of Val di Non’s main attractions, a pilgrimage site built on a 70-meter-high rocky spur located in a spectacular position at the bottom of a canyon.
We then continued along a leisurely trail flanking the Rio San Romedio creek, before we tackled our first ‘ascent’ of the day (we felt very motivated!), which took us to the quaint village of Don, where views opened up over the valley.
There was still quite a way to go so we continued past the village to take another uphill trail in the woods before we stopped for lunch by a small hut. During the 16-km long excursion, Tamara ate the whole of… two apples. This hike for her must have been like a stroll in a city park (!).
Rested and refreshed, we began the descent through a marvelous beech forest that took us back to the bottom of the canyon near San Romedio – but not before we could admire beautiful views over the Lake of Tavon and the Brenta Dolomites behind, and a spectacular waterfall jutting out from the wall of the canyon.
Once at the bottom, the final ascent back to Pineta awaited us, and most of the group opted to go on foot, despite the hotel staff offering to take us back by van. But hey, no cheating! We had to prove ourselves to Tamara after all 🙂
This day hike was part of a special weekend event with Tamara (“Vincere la paura grazie alla natura” – ‘Overcoming fear thanks to nature’), which began on Friday night (May 7), when Tamara, who was born in South Tyrol and has a background in sky-mountaineering, gave us a presentation of some of her latest adventures, including the attempt in 2017 to link the four 8,000m+ peaks of the Kangchenjunga massif with Simone Moro, her longtime climbing partner (they had to give up because Moro wasn’t feeling well and the weather was bad); the two months spent in India’s Himachal Pradesh, a region of scenic splendor in the western Himalayas, paragliding, hiking, climbing and running, an experience that helped her realize her fulfillment doesn’t necessarily come from just climbing the eight-thousanders, but also by simply being close to nature in wild, far off places.
Indeed, in the winter of 2018, after much pondering, she decided to go on an expedition to one of the most far-flung and coldest places on earth, the Siberian region of Sakha, where temperatures can reach -70°. She was with Simone Moro again, and together they were the first to reach Pik Pobeda, the highest mountain in Siberia, in the freezes of winter.
While Tamara made it clear at the beginning she wouldn’t talk about her last expedition, the attempt to climb K2 in winter – too painful still as several alpinists died including her climbing partner Juan Pablo Mohr – what emerged from her presentation and the day spent hiking with her is her wonderful combination of strength and simplicity, her passion for life and adventure, her openness, her desire to test herself in the great outdoors, leaving aside the controversies that sometimes can put mountaineers against one another.
Among her next projects are the writing of a second book and possibly organizing training camps for women. We’re looking forward to both of them, Tamara!
“Each moment I spend in the mountains makes me more aware of who I am and more grateful for life.”