Annapurna Chaos: One Climber Dies, Six Rescued

Last night on Annapurna, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. A large number of climbers got stuck in high camps in very bad weather, eventually running out of food, fuel to melt snow for water, and supplementary oxygen. Some of the exhausted climbers and Sherpas sustained frostbite.

We are waiting for details, but it seems that the climbers didn’t descend in the morning because of problems with the route. Eventually, Noel Hanna passed away in his tent at Camp 4 early this morning. He was a 10-time Everest summiter and attempted winter K2 in 2021. He climbed, as always, with Seven Summit Treks.

Helicopters have flown in today to rescue climbers in long-line operations. At least six climbers have been evacuated in this way. Without this high-risk measure, things could have gone much worse.

Noel Hannah's selfie with K2 in the background.

Noel Hanna at K2 Base Camp in 2020-21. Photo: Noel Hannah


But hope is fading for Indian climber Anurag Maloo who fell into a crevasse yesterday. Base Camp sources say that the chances of finding him are slim.

Contradictory information

Since early this morning, the situation has been very confusing. Rumors swirl and the climber’s relatives anxiously await news. We are left with unofficial information and mostly silence from the outfitters.

Pioneer Adventure’s chairman Pasang Sherpa told The Himalayan Times that Indian climber Baljeet Kaur went missing above Camp IV while descending from the summit. Kaur has seven 8,000’ers under her belt and had reportedly reached the top without supplementary oxygen. Yet the newspaper ran a headline that Kaur had died and the news spread fast.

In fact, rescuers found Kaur alive at 7,300m. She was eventually airlifted back to Base Camp and from there to the hospital. It remains unclear why Kaur was alone at 7,300m. She had pushed for the summit supported by Pasang Sherpa and Kami Sherpa of Pioneer Adventure but was somehow left alone shortly after reaching the summit.

Kaur launghs while standing by a tent at a higher camp on Annapurna, wearing a down yellow and grey jacket.

Baljeet Kaur some days ago on Annapurna. Photo: Pioneer Adventure

Climbers evacuated

Rescue services evacuated French climber Jonathan Lamy this morning. He texted a “back” message on his InReach. Details are still sketchy but sources in Pakistan confirm helicopters also airlifted Naila Kiani and Shehroze Kashif from 6,700m, the altitude of Camp 3.

Selfie of lamy, hardly recognizable in face mask, dawn hood and sunglasses.

Jonathan Lamy is safely back in Base Camp. Photo: Jonathan Lamy


Ziemski skis Annapurna

There’s also good news from Polish climbers Bartek Ziemski and Oswald Rodrigo Pereira. The first reports located them in Camp 4, but it seems that the two climbers went up and down the mountain as planned. After a swift ascent without oxygen or personal Sherpa support, the climbers reached the top at around 7 am. Then Ziemski descended all the way on skis. He rappelled down several sections amid the seracs between Camp 3 and Camp 2 but kept his skis until the snow ended.

It appears that Pereira also made it down to Base Camp yesterday but we are trying to confirm this. Their physical strength and self-sufficiency saved them from getting stuck in a difficult situation.

Ziemski skis down a steep, windswept slope, mountains in background.

Bartek Ziemski skis down Annapurna. Photo: Oswald Rodrigo Pereira


Storm coming

Without the helicopters, the situation would have been much worse. The helicopters were only able to fly because of extremely good luck with the weather. The forecasts had been grim. There is a major storm heading for Nepal’s mountains that will affect not only climbing expeditions but also trekkers.

“Anyone trekking in the Annapurna or Manaslu regions in Nepal at the moment, please be aware there will be heavy snow and high winds from tomorrow for at least five days,” Roland Hunter of The Mountain Company posted on Facebook. “The Everest region will also have heavy snow (16cm) on Sunday, April 23.”

Hunter strongly recommends that trekkers stay away from high passes over the next few days. Here’s the forecast for Larkya Bhangjiang Pass and Annapurna.

We will cover further news throughout the day, and hopefully hear from the climbers themselves.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.