Tamara Lunger knows all about the power of dreams. When she was a 14-year-old girl, living in the South Tyrol region of Italy, she announced that one day she would climb an 8,000m mountain. Nobody paid much attention to this strange ambition, but in 2010, at the age of 23 years, 11 months and 17 days, she became the youngest ever woman to summit Lhotse (8516m).
Birthdate: June 6th, 1986
Hometown: Gummer, Bolzano, Italy
Homebase: Gummer, South Tyrol.
Favourite Book: “The call of the Ice" by Simone Moro
Favourite Food: Pizzoccheri, a buckwheat pasta
Biggest Dream: reaching not only the summits, but reaching also the total happiness and satisfaction in all I do.
Best advice ever received: To be myself.
Tamara took a long and winding road into the world of mountaineering. As the daughter of the renowned ski mountaineer Hansjörg Lunger, she grew up with mountains on the mind, but initially excelled in track and field, twice winning a medal in the Italian discus championships. She took up ski mountaineering in 2002 and with her natural stamina, good genes (thanks, dad), and intense dedication, she went on to become the Italian champion in 2006 and 2008, as well as the long-distance world champion in 2008.
But she never forgot the promise she made to herself when she was 14. After making an adrenaline-pumping ascent of the North Face of Ortler (3905m) in 2007, she decided to dedicate her energy to mountaineering. In 2009, the famous Italian climber Simone Moro took her under his wing as she attempted to summit Cho Oyu (8201m) in Tibet. Diplomatic problems brought that mission to an end, but the following year she returned to the Himalayas to successfully complete her record-breaking ascent of Lhotse.
Later in 2010 she was confident enough to make a solo attempt on Cho Oyu, eventually reaching 7750m. In 2011 she endured horrendous weather to summit Kahn Tengri (7010m) in Krygystan and in 2014 another stellar achievement followed as she summited K2 (8611 m) without oxygen.
Although she still enjoys getting her skis on, it is mountaineering that offers the isolation, freedom and adventure she craves. For Tamara, records and recognition are not as important as the basic human challenge of discovering new boundaries. The competition is with herself, not with other climbers.
It’s hard to believe Tamara has achieved all this and she is still only 29. At the start of 2016 she is attempting to make the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat (8,126m) with Simone Moro. But her horizons are broadening all the time. In the years ahead she wants to climb other 8000m peaks, enjoy a women-only expedition to Pakistan or Alaska, and unite her love of fitness and mountaineering by performing fast climbs on lower peaks.
Tamara still treasures an old photo of herself climbing in the garden as a child. The smile remains the same, but now she’s clambering up the world’s highest mountains instead.