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Annapurna North - New central route back on track
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May 21, 2004 09: 34 EST

Gerlinde, Ralf and Hirotaka just pulled in to Anna BC. Now that Boris has his climbing team the foursome will begin the classic route. Simone and Denis will now go back to their original plan and climb a new route up the central North Face. Here is the latest:

"This morning Ralf, Gerlinde and Hirotaka arrived in BC by helicopter. The team is now complete except for Ed Viesturs and Veikka who cancelled their participation because of their involvement in the Everest Film Project and climb.

Today we decided on the route and teams for the climb. Ralf, Gerlinde, Boris and Hirotaka will climb the classic French route. Denis and I will try a new central route direct to the summit.

We want to start tomorrow even if the rain and clouds of this afternoon cause a delay.

Ciao,

Simone Moro"

First off, the Italian/Kazakh combo Denis Urubko and Simone Moro, along with Camos, climbed the North Wall on Baruntse, 7129m. They reached the Kali Himal (Black Summit) of Baruntse, also known as the North Summit at 7014m via a new route up the North Face. The true summit was left untouched due to hard wind. The new line is named "Ciao Patrick" as a tribute to Patrick Berhault, lost to Dom this month. Now, Simone, Denis and Boris Korshunov have moved to Annapurna’s North Face, attempting a new line on it.

Piotr Pustelniks team, who were climbing Annapurna South Face via the classic Bonnington route announced that they have aborted their climb. This would have been Piotr's 13th 8000er and then only Broad Peak. Serguey Bogomolov, 43, is also joining the team. For Serguey this would have been his 12th 8,000er. In July 2002 he climbed Shisha Pangma by a new route, crossing to the formerly unclimbed North-East ridge.

Year after year, climbers return to Annapurna despite its reputation as a difficult, dangerous mountain (a reputation earned in large part due to the high risk of avalanche.) In autumn 2002, an International Expedition team including Carlos Pauner and Silvio Mondinelli called off their attempt after heavy snows rendered the route too dangerous to continue.

Avalanche risk also prevented Ed Viesturs from summiting the peak in spring that year, his second attempt in two years. For Viesturs, whose own climbing career was inspired by reading Herzog’s book when he was 16, Annapurna remains his final 8,000m summit in his Endeavor 8000 quest to scale the fourteen 8,000m peaks.

Annapurna (8,091 m) is statistically the most dangerous peak of all the eight thousanders. The overall summit/fatality rate is 41% (although not all climbers summit of course).

Annapurna was the very first 8,000m peak ever summited. In 1950, French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal used only a rough map as a guide, and picked their way up an untried route to the summit. Their descent turned into a hellish nightmare, leaving them near death, with their extremities completely deadened by frostbite. Herzog and Lachenal survived their ordeal, but too many others have tragically lost their lives over the years.

On Christmas Day 1997, Anatoli Boukreev was killed in an avalanche, an event that shocked the mountaineering community. Now, Denis Urubko is climbing the mountain in Anatoli's honor. In total, only 130 climbers have summited Annapurna.

Images of Denis and an Anna avalanche courtesy of Simone Moro.

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