American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Annapurna I, South Face, Attempt and Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Annapurna I, South Face, Attempt and Ascent. On the fifth anniversary of Ukrainian independence, the Ukrainian Federation of Alpinism organized the First National Expedition to the Himalayan peak Annapurna I (8091 m). The People’s Deputy of Ukraine, Valentine Simonenko, headed the organizing committee, which successfully lobbied for government support and the help of sponsors. Our team was going to climb the south face of Annapurna from 7000 meters to 7600 meters by a new variation through the center of the wall, but a great snowstorm broke our plans and we were obliged to go by the route of Chris Bonington.

On August 28, the airline Fly Service (Odessa) delivered 12 participants and two tons of supplies to Kathmandu. On September 8, supplies were dropped by helicopter to a Base Camp located beneath the South Face Glacier, at 4300 meters. This camp is 1000 meters closer to the south face than usual. The route from ABC (4800 m) to Camp IV (6800 m) was established by three alternating groups. The first group consisted of Sergei Bershov, Vladimir Alperin, Sergei Kovalov, and Igor Svergun. The second: Vadim Leontiev, Mstislav Gorbenko, Roman Koval, and Vasily Kopitko. Climbers in the third group were Vladimir Gorbach, Gennady Lebedev, and Igor Chaplinsky.

On September 15, Camp I (5300 m) was established, and on September 17, Camp II (6100 m). Above, up to 6800 meters, the ridge presented a dangerous series of cornices and ice “mushrooms” with snow tops. Camp III at 6500 meters was established on September 23, and Camp IV on October 2. The first powerful snowfall, which began on October 2, practically erased our three week’s work on the route. Seven days were required to restore the path, and on October 15 we set up an additional Camp V at 7000 meters in a “bergschrund” (an overhanging crevasse). Here we had to relinquish the plans for making a first ascent of the cliff from 7000 to 7600 meters as it was in terrible condition, covered by snow and ice. We were forced to advance by the Bonington Route. On October 17, five climbers set up Camp VI at 7350 meters, and on October 19 established Camp VII at 7700 meters. At the seventh camp they dug out a snow cave. On October 20 at 4:10 p.m. Sergei Bershov, Igor Svergun, and Sergei Kovalov reached the summit. Vladimir Gorbach, and Igor Chaplinsky came to within 200 meters of reaching the summit. Two days later the second group undertook to storm the summit, but on the night of October 22 a major blizzard broke out that lasted six days. With great effort all the climbers were able to descend without trauma or losses. This was a huge success for the All-Ukrainian Team!

In May, a Russian expedition tried the same variation, but their attempt was unsuccessful and they did not reach the summit.

Mstislav Gorbenko, Director, Alpine Club “Odessa”

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