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Annapurna weekend - Snowstorm!
image story



Apr 25, 2004 15: 41 EST

Late Friday 30-40 cm snow fell on Base Camp and the guys spent most of the night to battle it. The team decided to abort all plans for the next few days, repair the tents and consider their options. Piotr was a bit concerned: "Only yesterday we joked around that this was just like Manaslu - except this is Annapurna and we don't want a repeat."

But yesterday, the sun came back and with it the teams spirits:

"The sun is shining bright today, and our spirits have improved much from yesterday! The snow is slowly melting away, and small avalanches are falling from the higher parts.

If these conditions stay, one team will go upwards tomorrow to check how the tents and ropes look after the last weather breakdown. If possible, they'll start fixing ropes to Camp 2. If the weather holds Monday, the next team will go up and we will work together.

Everything is getting back to normal, we are really enjoying the sunshine. We know that this situation won’t last very long, but it’s enough to increase the group’s morale. We hope that everything will be OK, and we will call you tomorrow or on Monday."

Best greetings
Piotr Pustelnik

Piotr Pustelnik is on Annapurna this spring and might also be going for Broad peak. After his ascent of Manaslu last spring, Annapurna and Broad are the only two he has left in his quest to complete all 14 8000m peaks.

Annapurna (8,091 m) is statistically the top 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. In total, only 130 climbers have summited Annapurna.

Piotr's team is going to climb Annapurna South Face via the classic Bonnington route. "We want to establish ABC near the wall and three camps up above. We need to put fix ropes in the most dangerous places on the wall." Serguey Bogomolov, 43, is joining the team. For Serguey this will be his 12th 8,000er. In July 2002 he climbed Shisha Pangma by a new route, crossing to the formerly unclimbed North-East ridge. Serguey is a member of the Kazakhstan National team’s Mountain Peaks project, who are climbing Makalu this spring.

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. Ed is returning to Annapurna this year.

Other climbers this year are the Italian/Kazakh combo of Simone Moro and Denis Urubko, who will first be attempting the North Wall on Baruntse, 7129m. After getting acclimatized, Simone and Denis will move onto Annapurna’s North Face, possibly attempting a new line. Both climbs will be in Alpine style.

The most recent addition to the who’s who on Annapurna is the trio of Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Ralf Dujmovits of Amical Alpin, and Hirotaka Takeuchi. The trio were all on Kangchenjunga together last year, but were thwarted by poor weather.

Japanese climber Hirotaka has summited Makalu, Everest, K2, and most recently Nanga Parbat in 2001. He summited Everest and K2 back to back in 1996 and became the youngest ever to summit the world's two highest mountains at the age of 25. Ralf Dujmovits is the owner of Amical Alpin and has summited Dhaulagiri, Everest, K2, Cho Oyu twice, Shisha Pangma, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II, and most recently Nanga Parbat in 2001.

Gerlinde, an Austrian woman, has summited Cho Oyu, Makalu, Manaslu, and most recently Nanga Parbat this past summer. Before Annapurna, the trio will get their feet wet on Xifeng Peak and then Shisha Pangma’s South Face.

Image snow in ABC, courtesy of Piotr Pustelnik.


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