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Annapurna South - live pics, and climb up to C2 this weekend
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Apr 29, 2005 13: 30 EST
In their previous report, The Annapurna South Face climbers reported fog, and a descent to BC through terrible weather: "We almost chose the wrong couloir. Had we gone down that route it would have ended in some vertical seracs."

The climbers came down after spending a few hungry nights in Camp 1 (Sherpas had dumped the supplies somewhere else), and organizing an evacuation of their sick cook from BC.

When they finally reached BC, they decided to rest and head back up in two days. Here's their latest today - with some stunning pictures from the ongoing climb!

Day 41 – 29th of April

"Good Morning this is mBank Lotto Annapurna South Face Expedition.

Greetings from ABC. Yesterday all members of the expedition, Sherpas and our cook moved to Advanced Base Camp.Today Marcin Miotk and two Sherpas have gone up to Camp I. Piotr Morawski, Vlado Strba and myself will join them tomorrow.

Our plan for the next days is to fix rope to Camp II, and even further if possible - up to the first difficult sectioins. That would be great - we could then easily return to BC, have some rest and then start our summit push."

Eternal snow and clouds

"The weather is not good, snow falls almost daily. It's clouds, snowfall, clouds...on and on. We never have two or three days without snow or clouds. We pray for improvement, but haven't seen it yet. Everybody feels good.

Tomorrow I think that I'll be able to report from Camp 1 how the conditions have changed up there while we were down in BC. Thank you and goodbye. Piotr Pustelnik"

Second update just minutes ago - all well in C1

Day 41 29th of April - afternoon

Good Morning this is mBank Lotto Annapurna South Face Expedition. Greetings again... We have just received a message from Camp I, that it survived the bad weather and everything is OK.
We are free to fix ropes to Camp II. As I said in the previous message, tomorrow we will go up to Camp I, and Marcin Miotk with Sherpas will bring new fix ropes. We are praying for good weather for the next two days, it would open the way to Camp II, or even further...Pray with us...Thanks far all...Piotr Pustelnik

Piotr now has 12 of the 14, 8000ers completed. Only Anna and Broad Peak remain on his quest to summit the world's tallest mountains. He has climbed Gasherbrum II twice (1990 and 1997), Nanga Parbat in 1992, Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma Main in 1993, Dhaulagiri in 1994, Everest in 1995, K2 from the North in 1996, Gasherbrum I in 1997, Lhotse in 2000, Kangchenjunga in 2001, Makalu in 2002 and Manaslu in 2003.

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.

Images:

1. Vlado Strba during the attempt to set Camp I
2. Approach to Camp I
3. Avalanche near Camp I
4. Digging out ABC (4950)
5. Camp I (6050)
6. The South Face at sunset

All images courtesy of Piotr Pustelnik.

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