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Annapurna South: Going up tomorrow!
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May 10, 2005 18: 12 EST
Piotr Pustelnik just can’t wait in BC for the weather to improve. The team is going up tomorrow, hoping for the wind to drop and aiming for the summit. This is Pustelnik’s latest:

“Good morning, this is mBank Lotto Annapurna South Face Expedition. Welcome from the BC. Today Vlado Strba and two Sherpas went up to Camp 2, where they will make some improvements if necessary. Vlado will wait for us there, because he needs to improve his acclimatization."

"Tomorrow the rest of the expedition’s members will start climbing. First we will reach ABC, then Camp 1, Camp 2...I hope that in the meantime the Sherpas will bring the 400-500 m of rope to the place where we finished our work, and we will start from there our way to the summit. We have decided that we will try to reach the summit with one more camp on the route. We will settle it if we don’t reach the summit in one day. Thus we will be able to sleep there and go for the top on the morning."

"Everybody feels good, everything is OK. We are a little impatient; we would like to be higher, closer to the summit. Keep your fingers cross for us. The weather is quite good, but there is a strong wind near the summit. I hope that it will be ok. 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 summitted. 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 summitted Annapurna - last year Ralf Dujmovits, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Denis Urubko summitted the mountain from the North side.

Image of team members on Annapurna’s South face some days ago, courtesy of Piotr Pustelnik.

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