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Asia, Nepal, Annapurna IV, Winter Ascent

Annapurna IV, Winter Ascent. The Canadian Annapurna IV Winter Expedition climbed the 7525-meter, 24,688-foot mountain by the normal north-face route as training for this year’s Canadian Everest expedition. The leader was Gordon Smith and the other seven members were Roger Marshall, Don Seri, Steve Langley, Jay Straith, Carl Hannigan, my brother Alan Burgess and I. Our 110 porters began the walk-in on November 7 but we did not reach Base Camp at 16,000 feet until November 24. The snow-line was at 9000 feet after very early heavy snows and we understandably had great difficulty in getting our ill-clad porters to carry all the way. The following week we organized food and equipment and began climbing on December 1. My brother A1 and I established Ice-Cave I at 18,300 feet on December 4 and were joined by Marshall and Smith the next day. Heavy snow on the 7th delayed Langley, Marshall, A1 and me from occupying Ice-Cave II at 20,000 feet until December 14. The cave was dug by our two high-altitude Sherpas, Sonam and Dawa. A final ice-cave was dug at 21,000 feet and Marshall, A1 and I spent the night of December 21 there, prior to the summit day on the 22nd. We climbed the final 3700 feet in one long day. The temperature at Camp III was —30° C, but the greatest danger was from the “unreasonably strong” wind. We reached the summit at three P.M. with only two-and-a-half hours of daylight left. Fear of benightment drove us back to camp in two hours. A second attempt ended at 24,200 feet for Langley when he discovered his two companions were no longer with him.

Adrian Burgess, Alpine Climbing Group