Annapurna I, North Face, New Route, and All 14 8000ers. This spring, Juanito Oyarzabal (or Oiarzabal, as it has sometimes been spelled), a 43-year-old Basque, climbed his 14th 8000er when he ascended Annapurna I (8091 m), the tenth-highest mountain in the world. A man who has been scrupulous about his claims, Oyarzabal last year went back up to reach the highest point on Dhaulagiri I after realizing that he had gone to a false summit.
He and his team were forced to pioneer a new line up Annapurna I’s north face from 5600 meters to the top because of frequent dangerous ice avalanching down the usual route to the right (west) of the line they climbed; the route they had to take was not completely safe from avalanches either, but it was much more so than others. “Annapurna is a very dangerous mountain—terrible,” Oyarzabal reported.
Nonetheless he summited on April 29, when the mountain was still very dry, but it took him and his two Basque teammates eight hours to climb from their last camp at 7200 meters the very long distance to the top. His first 8000-meter success was on Cho Oyu in 1985; he had now summited 14 in 14 years on a total of 20 expeditions. He said he felt some relief at having done all 14, but no elation. He is not retiring: next year he wants to scale Everest without artificial oxygen. It seems to be extremely difficult for climbers to stop climbing.
This spring’s other claim to have scaled all 14 of the 8000ers was made by Sergio Martini of Italy, who summited Everest from the north side on May 26 along with 12 others (and 11 from the south the same day). At the age of 49, he is the oldest person to claim all the 8000ers.
However, when he and his friend Fausto De Stefani were on Lhotse in the autumn of 1997, they reported that they had climbed to a point “very, very near” the summit but were unable to say how near it they had reached in very poor visibility, so their claim to Lhotse’s summit is not accepted by many observers. Martini said now that he does not plan to stop climbing and perhaps he will return to the 8000ers, maybe including Lhotse.