Text Box: Xpedition 8000

Dispatch Thirty-one: April 24th, 2010

Annapurna Expedition 2010

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Day Thirty-one: Heavy Snow Complicates Summit Push; Koreans in C1

Last night, the afternoon snow storm blanketed base camp and raised fears of increased avalanche danger higher on the mountain among a number of expeditions. I decided, based on the conditions I had seen in Camp II when there had been significantly less snow, that I would wait a day and get reports from climbers higher on the mountain regarding conditions, allowing me to make a more informed decision about whether the single day of decreased wind on top was worth the risk of climbing to Camp III with new fallen snow and increased avalanche danger. After breakfast, we received word from Piotr and Peter via radio that the conditions were acceptable up to Camp II and that very little new snow had accumulated in and around Camp II. I checked another weather report to see whether there was any possibility of a better, later summit day after the 27th. The report wasnít encouraging, as 33cm of snow was forecast to fall on both the 28th and 29th. Although the winds on these days are forecast to be lower than on the 27th, it still remains the best day overall to arrive to the summit, despite high winds enroute to Camp III on the 25th. After lunch, Jorge and Martin headed up to the Korean camp where they found out that the Koreans had retreated from Camp III down to Camp I due to the high winds blasting the upper flanks of Annapurna. They plan on climbing to Camp II tomorrow, then climbing directly to Camp IV the following day, aligning their summit plans with ours (the 27th on top). After some deliberation, Jorge, Martin, and I decided that we would most likely climb to Camp II tomorrow, sleep, then proceed to Camp IV the following day when the winds are forecast to be low (the 26th), rest and attempt the summit early on the 27th. We will, it appears, have a large group to split the work breaking trail to the summit. The Korean expedition, their seven Sherpas, Carlos, Juanito, Tolo, Javier, their two Sherpas, Piotr, Peter, Kinga, Horia, Jorge, Martin, and I will all be heading up on the 27th for the summit. We will more than likely be stuck descending in less than desirable conditions from Camp IV to Base Camp following our summit attempt (low wind, but heavy snow and poor visibility), but itís worth it if we have the chance to summit. We have no idea when or if another summit window will appear, so we must make the most of the less than ideal one we are currently facing.

 

Photos: Left: Annapurna this morning (when itís normally calm) blasted by high winds; Right: The ice pellets that fell all afternoon in base camp; the perfect primer layer for a slab avalanche