Annapurna: The Descent

A record 70 climbers summited Annapurna yesterday afternoon. Some may already be back in Base Camp and most should be out of avalanche danger by now.

An unprecedented number of people summited Annapurna yesterday afternoon. On their descent, virtually all stopped for the night at around 7,000m in Camp 4.

Today, the task is to descend back to Base Camp, down the fixed ropes and through some avalanche-prone areas. The weather forecast suggests a cloudy day with some snow in the afternoon and heavier snow tonight.

The danger posed by avalanches will be exacerbated by the large number of very tired climbers descending the ropes. The terrain will also have changed after two days of intermittent snowfall.

Weather forecast for Annapurna’s summit today. Photo:


The climbers’ tracking devices now have low batteries and have presumably been turned off during the night.

At 7 am local time, the Pakastani team’s manager at Base Camp, Saad Munawar, spoke to climbers Abdul Joshi and Sirbaz Khan. Joshi and Khan were still in Camp 4 eating breakfast. By noon, the climbers were well on their way and below Camp 3. At around 2 pm, the pair briefly switched on their tracker and were near Camp 1 at 5,500m, safely below the most dangerous area.

News from other teams and climbers is expected soon.

Pakistan team tracker with the climbers’ location (5,500m) at 14:15pm local time.

Record figures – at what price?

We are still waiting for official figures, but outfitters have suggested that nearly 70 people summited Annapurna yesterday. Roughly half of these are paying clients in commercial teams and the other half are Nepali guides and rope-fixing teams. While the success rate is mind-blowing, critics in the climbing community have expressed concerns about the continued commercialization of major peaks, the risks involved with such massive teams, and a worrying dependency on helicopters, O2, and fixed ropes.