Silvo Karo (Slovenia) – climber

Stars of Banskofilfest 2023

Silvo Karo (Slovenia) – He is one of the greatest protagonists of the golden age of Slovenian mountaineering between the 1980s and 1990s, honoured with the Piolet d’Or for Lifetime Achievement, the world’s most prestigious award in mountaineering during 2022.  In 2007 he founded the Mountain Film Festival in Slovenia, which aims to increase the production of Slovenian mountain films and popularize mountain culture. The both festivals in Slovenia and in Bansko city, Bulgaria are proud members of The Alliance of Mountain Film Festivals together. He will present his story  “Light and Fast” on 24th of November, 18:00 h, Big Hall, Culture Center “Nikola Vapcarov”, Bansko city. 

Silvo’s path took him from the romantic, analog 1970s to the fast-paced, digital life of the new millennium, from the rural countryside to brutal Patagonian storms, endless Himalayan expanses, Karakoram granite spires soaring into the sky, Indian monsoons, vertical big walls of Yosemite, and the beautiful Julian Alps. He was a member of the rock and roll generation that brought energy and rhythm onto mountain faces. Commitment, boldness, enthusiasm, and an honest friendship produced the Three Musketeers: Franček Knez, Janez Jeglič, and Silvo Karo. The big walls of Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, and Bhagirathi were the milestones of his career, which included Himalayan giants as well as 8a sport climbing. He followed the trends of cutting edge alpinism and developed a strong affinity for climbing light and fast. His essay Patagonia: Terra Mystica was published in Voices from the Summit (2000). The film Cerro Torre South Face won the Best Mountaineering Film award at the 1989 Trento festival. His love for film eventually led to the Festival gorniškega filma (Mountain Film Festival), which he started in 2007. He’s been a member of the French Groupe de Haute Montagne since 1991, became an honorary member of the Alpine Club from Great Britain in 2010, and was awarded the Order of Merit by Slovenia’s president.



Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Wall – a long-awaited autobiography of the protagonist of the golden age of Slovenian mountaineering, led by the call of the mountains from the rural countryside to brutal Patagonian storms, vast Himalayan heights, radiant chimneys of the Karakorum granite, the Greenland horizon, Indian monsoon, the Julian Alps, and Yosemite precipices. His mountaineering career was most marked by the great walls of Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, and Bhagirathi and the dedication, audacity, zeal, and sincere friendship that gave birth to the alliance of three musketeers – Silvo Karo, Franček Knez, and Janez Jeglič – Johan.

Picture: Silvo Karo climbing Wyoming Sheep Ranch on El Capitan, Yosemite, USA, in 1993  Silvo Karo archive

Karo has climbed over 2000 routes and made more than 300 first ascents. A selection of his most significant contributions outside Slovenia include:

1983: Fitz Roy, east face, new route, Devil’s Dihedral (6a A2 90°). Aguja Val Bois, east face, new route. D.E. (5 100°)
1985: Yalung Kang, north face, new route, reached 8,100m. Grandes Jorasses, north face, third ascent of Rolling Stones (6b A3 80°)
1986: Cerro Torre, east face, new route, Hell’s Direct (7a A4 M6 95°)
Broad Peak, normal route Torre Egger, southeast face, new route, Psycho Vertical (6c A3 90°). El Mocho, north face, new route, Grey Yellow Arrow (7a A0)
1987: Lhotse Shar, southeast ridge, reached 7,300m 1987-88. Cerro Torre, south face, new route (6b A4 75°)
1990: Bhagirathi III, west face, new route (6b A4 85°). Everest, west ridge to 7,500m
1993: El Capitan, Wyoming Sheep Ranch (5.10 A5)
1996: Nalumasortoq, new route, Mussel Power (7a A3). El Capitan, Salathé Wall in 10h 25min. Half Dome, Direct Northwest Face, 11h 20mins (speed record at that time)
1997: El Capitan, West Face (5.11c) in eight hours car to car
1999: Fitz Roy, west face, Ensueno, second overall and first free ascent (6b+ obl 45°). Fitz Roy, Slovak Route, alpine style with new variation from Glaciar Torre (6c 40°)
2000: La Esfinge, new route, Cruz del Sur (7b)
2002: Grand Pilier d’Angle, Divine Providence to Mont Blanc summit
2003: Cerro Murallon, first ascent of main summit
2005: Cerro Torre, southeast ridge, new route, Slovenian Sit Start (in a single push of 28 hours; 7a A2 70°). Aguja Poincenot, Sperone degli Italiani, second ascent (and first of this route to the summit, 6c A3).
2006: Trango Tower, Eternal Flame, first one-day ascent (7a A2 M5)
2009: Tofana de Rozes, south face, Goodbye 1999 (7b on sight, repeat). Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, Punta Brendal southeast face, Nero su Bianco (7b on sight, repeat). Meru Central, attempt on the then unclimbed Shark’s Fin in alpine style.

During all this time he made many new routes, first free ascents, and speed climbs in his native Julian and Kamnik Alps, including mountain routes such as Zaumak Nerva (7c) that were the most difficult in the country at the time. At his peak he was redpointing 8a.


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