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Annapurna 2006 new images: Peter Hamor's bivouac in hell

Posted: Jun 27, 2006 03:42 pm EDT

(MountEverest.net) With an overall summit/fatality rate of 40%, most 8000er collectors leave Anna for last. This year, Annapurna has been summited only by Peter Hamor, member of Piotr Pustelniks team, and by Kazakh climbers Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov. Piotr Pustelniks expedition climbed the east ridge, repeating the descent line of the Polish Kukuczka/Hajzer route, which merges with the Swiss (Loretan-Joos 1984) line at Roc Noir. The east ridge is 7,5 km (4,4 miles) long and Peter was on his own for the most difficult section of the climb which he did completely alone, in the night.

Artur: "The part between East Summit and Main Summit is difficult"

As Piotr Pustelniks mBank Lotto Himalayan Trilogy expedition was following his line, Artur Hajzer kept in touch with the climbers over SMS right to the very end. Meanwhile, he also told ExplorersWeb about the route, "the first part up to 6200 is not very comfortable, through the glacier, up to the bottom of Glacier Dome and Roc Noir."

"The ridge from Roc Noir to East summit is easy but the part between East Summit and Main Summit is difficult. And while the ridge is easy - our team mate Ramiro Navarette Carera died on descent, after he lost orientation on Roc Noir and climbed down the north part."

Peter vanished on the horizon

Piotr Pustelnik said about the ridge, We started climbing along the edge. By Roc Noir the route was steep and loaded with snow. Then came a very sharp snow ridge. It took us two days to climb it. It took us some time to reach the East summit and then to find the ridge leading towards the middle summit."

While Peter disappeared out of view braking trail and scouting the route to the Middle summit, Tibetan climber Lotse began to show problems. The remaining climbers turned back to high camp with him, and eventually helped Lotse down in a nightmarish descent with their snow blind team mate.

Peter's solo night out

Unaware of the problems Peter Hamor continued the climb; headed for the tough part between East Summit and Main Summit. He reached the summit at 9.15 pm, solo without gas, food or a radio.

He descended in pitch darkness, and was forced to dig a bivouac in a snow cave just below the summit on 8000 meters - right at the hard section between the Middle and the Main summit.

The cave was not ready until 2 am next day - Peter spent 4 hours to dig it. He then spent the rest of the night there freezing to the core. By 5 am he woke up and climbed back to the expedition high camp where he met up with the rest of the team.

Get down before it is too late

Piotr Pustelnik reported, The three of us were sitting in the tent. Piotr Morawski and myself in pretty good shape, Lotse crying all the time. Peter arrived after his bivouac. I sent him down on his own, he was well and couldnt help us anyway.

All our food reserves were finished by that time. We had to descend it was clear that Lotse wouldnt recover his sight, and soon become too weak to go down. We had thought of returning to the East summit in order to retrieve our fixed roes there and use tem to help Lotse down but we were too weak. It was an extremely difficult situation, we couldnt count on anyones help in the middle of the ridge.

We decided to free climb down, I told Lotse we were leaving, and he asked up or down? It was a tragicomical situation. It took us about 12 or 13 hours to get out of the mess, hours of watching every single step. By the evening, we finally saw Peter and Don by the deposit, preparing a place for us. My legs trembling, I thought to myself: Jesus, we did it. We had managed to descend without belay, and didnt have to cope with the moral issue of leaving a man behind on the mountain. I hope I will never have to go through something like this again.

Slovak Peter Hámor has summited Everest (1998) and climbed "the Alpine Trilogy" the difficult north faces of Matterhorn, Grandes Jorasses and Eiger.

Piotr Pustelnik has 12 of the 14, 8000ers completed. Only Annapurna and Broad Peak remain on his quest to summit the world's tallest mountains - but only last week Piotr announced that BP will be his last 8000er climb.

Piotr Morawski achieved the first winter climb on Shisha Pangma on January 14, 2005. Also on the summit was Italian Simone Moro, who describes Morawski as one of the best Polish climbers today.

Curiously enough, the most awe-inspiring of the 8000ers was also the first to be summited.

In 1950, French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal used only a rough map as a guide, and picked their way up an unattempted route to the summit. Their descent turned into a hellish nightmare, leaving them near death, with their extremities completely deadened by frostbite. Lachenal lost all his toes. Herzog lost all his toes as well as all his fingers.

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. The strong climber had survived the deadliest season on Mount Everest the year before, and aided three other climbers to safety in a brutal storm.

In 2005, a falling serac killed Italian Christian Kuntner, who had already summited 13 8000ers. Three other climbers were severely injured in the accident.

This year, Annapurna has been summited only by Peter Hamor, member of Piotr Pustelniks team, and by Kazakh climbers Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov.

At 8,091m, Annapurna I, most commonly known as Annapurna, is number 10 on the list of the fourteen 8,000m peaks, and is the ninth highest Himalayan peak in the world. It is located in north central Nepal, flanking one end of the Annapurna massif which includes Annapurna II (7937m), Annapurna III (7,555m), Annapurna IV (7,525m), Gangapurna (7,455 meters) and Annapurna South (7219 meters).


Hamor's more familiar face: on the summit of Annapurna, solo without shelter, gas, food or a radio.
Hamor's summit joy was brief. A terrible night descent was ahead, and he was left alone to negotiate Annapurna's death zone.
Image by Peter Hamor courtesy Peter Hamor, SOURCE
Hamor's hand on Annapurna 8091 main summit at 9.15 pm local time, May 21st 2006.
Roc Noir. Image Peter Hamor (click to enlarge).
The 2006 climb followed the descent line of the Polish route. The image shows that the Swiss (Loretan-Joos) and Polish (Kukuczka-Hajzer) lines merge from Roc Noir. The 7,5 km (4,4 miles) long east ridge was first climbed by Loretan-Joos in 1984. Topo courtesy of Artur Hajzer (click to enlarge).
Starry night. Without supplies but in desperate need of rest, Hamor proceeded to dig a cave. It took four hours. Freezing to the core, he stayed in the bivouac until 5 am when he woke up and used the light of dawn to descend. Image of the cave by Peter Hamor.
Image by Peter Hamor courtesy Peter Hamor, SOURCE
Traverse below Roc Noir summit. Glacier Dome in the back. Image Peter Hamor.
Image by Peter Hamor courtesy Peter Hamor, SOURCE
Roc Noir. Image Piotr Pustelnik .
Piotr is currently on his way to Broad Peak, the third and last stage of his mBank Lotto Himalayan Trilogy expedition. Pustelnik plans to bid the 8000ers farewell in style: With a new route on Broad Peak. Image of Piotr's briefing in Pakistan last Thursday, Saltoro Summits/ExplorersWeb.
Tres Pedros in Annapurna high camp.