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Annapurna South: Pushing Camp 2, greetings to the North side climbers
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May 4, 2005 10: 35 EST

What a Wednesday in Himalaya! Early this morning, an avalanche wiped out most of camp 1 on Everest South side, climbers are on a summit push on Annapurna North since this morning, climbers on Dhaulagiri also departed - for a second push - this morning, and Piotr just came in with his report from Annapurna South. The good news is that weather seems to be supporting the rescue parties and summit bids right now!


Last week, the Annapurna South Face climbers had a rough time, wrestling the slopes in terrible weather. Friday they went back up on the mountain, and found Camp 1 in pretty good shape in spite oh heavy snow falls. Their plan for the weekend was to fix rope to Camp II, and even further if possible - up to the first difficult sections. "That would be great - we could then easily return to BC, have some rest and then start our summit push," wrote Piotr.
Well, luck has been with the guys at last. Here's Piotr's dispatch:

Day 46 – 4th of May

"Good morning, this is mBank Lotto Annapurna South Face Expedition, greetings from Camp I. I have good news; yesterday we fixed ropes to the spot where we will set Camp II. We have put one tent and some of the gear there. Today we have a rest and tomorrow we will go up with ropes and with the second tent in order to equip Camp II."

"On Friday we might try to fix ropes above Camp II, to the major difficulties on this route. The weather was quite good yesterday, it wasn’t snowing. If the good weather remains in the next two or three days, we will finish the rope fixing as we had planned.

Our friend Vlado is a little sick; he has some troubles with stomach and had to go down to BC. We will see what the doctor tells him. As I said earlier I hope that the weather is good and in a few days I will send you the message that we put the fix ropes to the latitude of 7300m (so far we have fixed to 6800-6850 m....) I would also like to send special greetings to the expedition on the north side of Annapurna.
Good bye. 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 Camp I (6050), courtesy of Piotr Pustelnik.

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