Problems on Annapurna, Summit Push Aborted

8000ers Annapurna
Annapurna's upper slopes as seen from Base Camp. Photo: Kamran on Bike

There was so much blue ice above Camp 4 that the fixing team ran out of rope at 7,400m. Now at least 35 climbers are stuck precariously in C4, waiting for more rope for a new push.

For recent Himalayan expeditions, no news has rarely meant good news. Around the time the climbers perched at Camp 4 were supposed to set off toward the summit of Annapurna, their trackers went crazy, showing points up, down, left and right.

Moeses Fiamoncini’s tracker at noon today (Nepal time). Waypoints locate him at approximately 7,000m.

Viridiana Alvarez’s tracker shows she reached at least 7,300m before turning back to Camp 4. Once there, she posted a short message through her InReach device: “Back at Camp 4. [There were] 35 people pushing and no one was able to reach the summit. We got to 7,500m. There was no rope left. We will try again tonight.”

Viridiana Alvarez’s tracker shows her failed summit attempt.

Seven Summit Treks and Imagine Nepal were apparently in charge of fixing the route and have yet to comment. But sources in Nepal are already reporting on the problem: “Shortage of ropes on Annapurna I due to excessive blue ice routing above Camp 4 stopped the fixing team at around 7,400m,” Dream Wanderlust reports. Apparently, organizers have called for a helicopter to fly all the way from Kathmandu to drop 800m of fresh rope directly to higher camps.

A Long Wait at Camp 4 Could Spell Trouble

Though the problems may only be logistical, the situation in Camp 4 is potentially dangerous. Counting on a fast push during the first available summit window, climbers were not well acclimatized. Many of them are using O2 but were not expecting to remain in Camp 4 for long. They might run out of gas and food.

The long wait at altitude in freezing conditions will be even more difficult for climbers without O2. Brazilian Moeses Fiamoncini, Pakistani climbers Sirbaz Khan and Abdul Joshi, Antonios Sykaris from Greece, and Jaroslaw Zdanowicz and Waldemar Kowalewski from Poland are all reportedly without O2.

Camp 4 could get even more crowded. Some climbers spent last night in Camp 3, planning to move to Camp 4 today and reach the summit on Friday.

Retreating is not an obvious option either; climbers want to avoid repeated crossings of the dangerous passage between Camp 2 and Camp 3.

As always, the weather is key. Yesterday was rather windy and, while today’s morning forecast was good, there might be some snow showers this evening. According to the multimodel forecast, the wind is expected to increase by Saturday.

Multimodel forecast by Meteoexploration.com

This has been an exceptionally dry winter in Nepal. This might have provided better conditions on Annapurna’s avalanche-prone sections between Camp 2 and Camp 3, but it has left the mountain’s upper slopes covered in hard, blue ice.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Sarbland
Sarbland
5 months ago

SST there so their mismanagement is there too.. This was a good chance for teams and ropes shortened..

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Ronald
Ronald
5 months ago

Snow and problems on the upper slopes doesnt sound to good on notorious Annapurna. I hope they all can have a safe summit push. And i dont like to criticise but even with obstacles and blue ice between camp 4 and the summit, a shortage of 800 meters of rope seems a lot indeed. Good luck to all

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Uttam
Uttam
5 months ago

if a chopper drops a 800 m fresh rope on Annapurna I, will that be a first in high-altitude mountaineering? the chopper may also need to drop 02 bottles for those in Camp 4, who are running low on O2.

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Samson Simon Sharaf
5 months ago

So SST learnt nothing from K2 winter Chaos.like FIFA and ICC, THERE IS NEED OF AN INTERNATIONAL OVERSIGHT AND RECOGNISED AS A SPORT.
MY Pakistani boys are young and need to go places and reach heights. May God keep everyone safe.

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Jc ch
Jc ch
5 months ago

Why are they relying on SST or a fixing team then? Don’t want delays, climb the mountain yourself without having someone else fix the ropes for you till the summit

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Kate
Kate
5 months ago
Reply to  Jc ch

I don’t disagree with you JC (if you want a job done do it yourself!) but SST is getting paid to fix the ropes by their clients so one would think they would be able to do that and not be 800m short. It’s like going to a restaurant only to find out they don’t serve food!

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MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
5 months ago

SST planning assumes best-case conditions. No snow, no ice, no storms. But everyone knows best-case conditions are not the norm so logistics and supplies must take account of bad or even worst-case conditions. Another SST fail. But then climbers –including some who didn’t have a tent at Camp 4 on K2!!– continue to sign up for SST expeditions. So the climbers apparently haven’t learned either, very sad. How many failures will it take for clients and other operators to learn not to count on SST, for anything? Reminds me how Russell Brice/Himex was vilified for being a control freak. But… Read more »

Samson Simon Sharaf
5 months ago
Reply to  MuddyBoots

The Greek climber on K2 had been so critical. He is again there.

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MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
5 months ago

Exactly. In the US there is a saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

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newGp
newGp
5 months ago

Scam of mountaineering….No ropes, call the chopper. No O2, call the chopper. Get the chopper to go down as well. It should be called “Annapurna 2021 the easy way”

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spyridon armpis
spyridon armpis
5 months ago

Greek climber Antonis criticized SST on tent shortage on K2 which cost him his final push and left him by nearly amputating toes. But on Greek tv said he chose sst again for Annapurna as Comparatively still seem to be the most Pro ,,, He said though he would separate and had an independent Sherpa all the way , and climb alone ,,,, but it seems he did not,

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Dil Everester
4 months ago

I love the way you share the pictures and information about the trek, very impressive, well done. keep sharing the good feeds with us, we would love to see more of your experiences.

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Jackman
4 months ago

Well said, a nice post, thanks for sharing

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Lily pand
4 months ago

I AM WONDERING, WHY THIS MOUNTAIN IS BECOMING MORE CHALLENGING IN TERMS OF CLIMB.

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Sanjib
2 months ago

The shortage of rope was not expected though. The hardened blue ice might have increased the distance to be covered by the rope. Anyways, thanks, everyone climbed safely.

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