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Annapurna North: Climbers at 6600 - summit push tomorrow?
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Apr 24, 2005 10: 22 EST
Friday, Gnaro and his 4 friends climbed to C2, fetching 50 meters more rope on their way up, needed to reach 7.000 meters. They made it to C2 in only 4 hours, in spite of deep snow. They planned to continue to 7100 Saturday morning and try their first summit push today with the help of the light of the full moon. The weather forecats warned of a windy weekend - Veikka summited Cho Oyu yesterday in windy conditions.

6600 meters

Idel shot over the latest news a few hours back: "The climbers reached 6.600 m today, and stopped under a serac for the night. The weather was ok till 2 o'clock, after that it started snowing. They've been working very hard; they don't have enough rope to fix so they have had to climb up and down to fetch lines. They are moving on the mountain with heavy loads and no sherpa support.

7100 and up tomorrow

They will try to reach 7100 meters tomorrow, and make a bivouac there for a few hours of rest. They will make a summit push on April 25, as they feel very well."

Silvio climbs with his regular climbing mate, Mario Merelli, and also Mario Panzeri, Daniele Bernasconi, and, in his first Himalayan experience; Silvio's friend Christian Gobbi. 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.) Annapurna (8,091 m) is statistically the most dangerous peak of all the eight thousanders. The overall summit fatality rate is 40% (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 lost their lives over the years.

On Christmas Day 1997, Anatoli Boukreev was killed in an avalanche, an event that shocked the mountaineering community. In total, only 135 climbers have summited Annapurna - last year Ralf Dujmovits, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Denis Urubko summited the mountain from the North side.

Mondinelli was born in Gardone (Italy) in 1958. Since beginning climbing at 18 years old, he has done major climbs all over the world, including nine 8000ers: Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Everest, GI, GII, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, Kangchenjunga and K2, plus Shisha Pangma’s central summit.

Image from another climb, courtesy of Silvio Mondinelli.

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