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Asia, Nepal, Annapurna South, Winter Ascent

Annapurna South, Winter Ascent. Nikolai Cherny, Valeri Lobankov, Akhamadulla Minihaev, Vladimir Shataev and I ascended the south face of Annapurna South (7219 meters, 23,685 feet) alpine-style in eleven days of continuous climbing to reach the summit on December 17. This climb was technically not so difficult as our Ama Dablam ascent [See above] but it was harder work because of the greater altitude. It was hard to move in very cold weather with less than ten hours of daylight each day. Each man had to carry a very heavy load with enough supplies for two weeks. We could take only one tent, so we had to climb together or descend together. There was no possibility of some members dropping back during the ascent while others continued to the top. The climb began in the village of Chomrong at 1900 meters and took a line along the ridge which is the prolongation of the central spur of the south face. It rises 5300 meters in only ten kilometers. We had to surmount a number of small peaks since there was no way to avoid them because below were steep gorges covered with impassable jungle. Technical difficulties began at 4300 meters. From 5300 meters the glacier led up to a sharp ice ridge at 5800 meters. A rock gendarme interrupted the ice ridge at 6100 meters. The ice ridge ended at 6500 meters. This part between 5800 and 6500 meters is the most difficult. From there we ascended a steep snow slope with patches of ice to the beginning of the summit ridge at 7000 meters. An hour of easy ground took us to the top. Low temperatures and high winds caused problems. Once, Cherny was blown off the sharp ridge and was saved only because he was belayed. We were back in Chomrong on December 22. We found frozen ropes at 5400 meters and a rappel sling with three carabiners at 6100 meters. These were signs of the American expedition that had reached 6100 meters in 1988. [AAJ, 1989, page 221] There were two other unsuccessful attempts: French in 1970 and Japanese in 1984.

Vladimir Bashkirov, Russia