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Asia, Nepal, Annapurna III

Annapurna. III. An Indian expedition made the first ascent of Annapurna III (24,858 feet) on May 6. The climbers were flown to Pokhara, whence they set out on May 25. Their original Base Camp was established on April 4 above Manangbhot, a mile from the great north icefall that descends from the peak. A reconnaissance began immediately; a likely route appeared to lead over a 20,000-foot ice dome between Annapurna III and Annapurna IV and an 18,500-foot col on the eastern slopes of the mountain. Investigation of the eastern icefall and east col route made them decide on April 14 in favor of this route. Because of better access to this route and also because of the marked hostility of the Manangbhot villagers, Base Camp was shifted to near Braga village. Camp I was established at 15,400 feet on April 15, Camp II the next day at 17,400 and Camp III (Advanced Base) at 18,800 feet on April 19. Above Camp III they had to surmount a 300-foot ice wall to emerge on the north shelf, a vast snowfield, where Camp IV was set up at 20,800 feet on April 22. Camp V was established at 22,000 feet on April 23. From there, on April 26, the leader, Instructor-Lieutenant M. S. Kohli of the Indian Navy, Sonam Gyatso, Army Captain A. B. Jungalwala, and Flight-Lieutenant P. C. Chaturvedi made a try for the summit, but after a ten-hour climb they were beaten back by the weather still some 500 feet from the top. After a rest at Base Camp, where they found a platoon of Nepalese troops sent to protect them from the persistent threats of the Manangbhot villagers, they headed back upward on May 2. Camp V was moved higher to 22,300 feet on May 5. On the next day Kohli, Gyatso and the Sherpa sirdar Sonam Girmi headed for the east saddle (24,000 feet), which they reached after seven hours of ascent. Above the saddle the snow gave way to ice and the angle of the slope increased until it was extremely steep. After finally reaching a false summit, they hurried some 300 feet along the ridge to the south to the highest point in rapidly deteriorating weather. As they got to the top, snow began to fall heavily. They descended to Camp V in thunderstorms. Bad weather precluded any further summit tries. The other members of the group were Naval Lieutenant V. S. Shekhawat, K. P. Sharma and Dr. A. N. D. Nanavati.