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Annapurna push: Ralf's team in C1, Simone's team C2
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May 23, 2004 17: 59 EST
"Simone via satphone:

“Hello. We waited until today to start out from BC (4200m), as the weather was bad. Denis and I left BC at 3 AM and reached camp II at 6000 meters after a 10 hour battle.

We had snow up to our knees and had to break a trail all the way up. In the end we almost didn't even find the camp because of all the heavy fog.

Ralf, Gerlinde, Hirotaka and Boris stopped at camp I, because Ralf was injured to his leg (Ed note: by another rock this time, not the rock fall on Shisha) and Hirotaka has problems with his stomach.

They will decide tomorrow morning if they will continue or not. Also Denis has some problem with his stomach, but not so bad.

Tomorrow morning Denis and I will decide if we will continue to 7000 meters, where the rocky part begins, or if we will stay one more day in camp II to a rest after today's hard work in the snow…

Bye till tomorrow

Simone”

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.

Piotr Pustelniks team, who were climbing Annapurna South Face via the classic Bonnington route aborted their climb at around 7500 meters due to bad weather. This would have been Piotr's 13th 8000er and then only Broad Peak left. Serguey Bogomolov, 43, was 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.

Image of the climbers on Anna right now, courtesy of Simone Moro.


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