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Asia, Nepal, Annapurna I, Northwest Ridge, New Route

Annapurna I, Northwest Ridge, New Route. A 10-member expedition (eight Poles, one Ukrainian and one American) led by Michal Kochanczyk, successfully surmounted the formidable unclimbed northwest ridge of Annapurna I, the world’s tenth highest mountain (8091 m). Kochanczyk says this ridge should become the standard ascent route on Annapurna I “because it is logical and safe.” It is very much safer than the nearby northwest buttress, which has been fatally attempted by several expeditions over a number of years. But it is “much worse—more difficult—than the west ridge of Everest,” in the opinion of one of this team’s summiters, Andrzej Marciniak, who made an ascent of Everest in May 1989 by its west ridge and says this Annapurna I route is the most difficult he has ever climbed.

Marciniak and his Ukrainian teammate, Vladyslav Terzyul, summited on October 20, which turned out to be the last day of weather good enough for a summit push before heavy new snowfall and strong winds set in. They and their fellow members (they had no Sherpas to help them on this climb) had fixed a total of 2000 meters of rope, most of it above their third camp at 6100 meters on the very sharp cauliflower ridge and then up the most difficult section, a rock barrier that began at 7400 meters and took four days to fix. The summit pair made their final push to the top without bottled oxygen from the expedition’s highest camp. Camp V, which had been pitched on October 15 before the rock barrier just below the northwest ridge at 7100 meters.

Elizabeth Hawley