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Viesturs attempt confirmed by home team, climbers delay push
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May 9, 2005 19: 50 EST
We only had the news from fellow climbers this morning, but now Outside Online has checked with Viestur's Public Relations who confirm that Ed is on the attempt tonight with Gnaro's Italian climbers. The home team has pushed the attempt time somewhat later than the original schedule: The climbers plan to go up at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nepal time (8:00 p.m. EST Monday).

AdventureWeather satellite images shows the jet wind positioned right above Annapurna, with high summit winds but relatively dry above 7000 meters. Winds should start decreasing Wednesday.

Big mountains, big dreams

Currently in camp 3, seven climbers are hoping for a break this morning.

Silvio Mondinelli is climbing Annapurna with his regular climbing mate, Mario Merelli, and also Mario Panzeri, Daniele Bernasconi, and, on his first Himalayan experience, Silvio's friend Christian Gobbi.

Mondinelli’s ambition aims far beyond Annapurna though. He wants the 14 8000ers and he wants them now. “I can't waste much time. I'm getting old!” he told ExplorersWeb, only half joking. After Anna he plans on climbing four more 8000ers - If he succeeds, he'll finish the year as a brand new member of the 14 8000er summiteers’ club.

The peak that started it all

For Ed too, this summit is special: If he succeeds, Ed will become the first American to join the small number of climbers who have stood atop the summits of all 14 8,000 meter peaks in the world, and climbed them without oxygen.

But Annapurna is special to Ed for other reasons as well: "As a kid, the book Annapurna inspired me to become a climber. Never did I think that that book would have pushed me this far and for this long. It seems appropriate that Annapurna is the final 8000 meter peak. It is probably also appropriate that, being the trickiest to climb, I will need all of the experience that I have gained to do it safely," he told ExWeb.

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.

Image of climbers on Annapurna North last year, courtesy of Simone Moro.

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