American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Upper Dolpo, Annapurna Himal, Annapurna II, First Winter Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2008

Annapurna II, first winter ascent. The main success winter success in Nepal was the first winter ascent of Annapurna II (7,937m). Philipp Kunz (German) employed three Sherpas from east Nepal: Lhakpa Wangel, Temba Nuru, and Lhakpa Thinduk, the latter two with no real previous high-altitude experience. The team followed the route of the first ascent from the north, establishing base camp on January 16 at 5,000m. Strong winds and heavy snowfall stopped activity for a while, but the then Sherpas forced a route to a site for advanced base on the glacier below Annapurna IV, at 5,800m. Kunz joined them there on the 28th. The Sherpas fixed more rope and the whole team camped at 6,600m on the 31st. They spent another night there while working on the route above, then moved up on February 2 to a camp at 7,400m. Next day they camped at 7,600m and on the 4th reached the summit. The crux of the route was a 55° section of mixed rock and snow above 7,100m. In all the Sherpas fixed 2,500m of rope, a hard job in the very cold weather and one which Kunz realizes would have been much easier with a bigger team. They had planned to have six camps above base but found this was not possible, due to lack of available sites. Only one other party had previously attempted the peak in winter: a 1983 British expedition, which failed to make any real progress because of deep, unconsolidated snow.

Annapurna II has only had five confirmed ascents. The summit was first reached in 1960 by the British-Indian-Nepalese Services Expedition led by Jimmy Roberts. They placed camps up the north face/northwest ridge of Annapurna IV (7,525m), following the route of the first ascent of that mountain by Germans in 1955. By the middle of May they established Camp 5 on a shoulder of Annapurna IV, where the long west ridge branches off to Annapurna II. After a slight loss of altitude, they found a place for Camp 6 near the base of the summit pyramid at 7,200m. Two Sherpas established this camp while Chris Bonington, Richard Grant, and Ang Nyima started out from Camp 5 and climbed all the way to the summit. The route up the final pyramid followed a 45–50° rock rib interspersed with boulders and perched slabs, giving difficult rock climbing. Yugoslavians from Slovenia repeated this ascent in 1969, also climbing Annapurna IV. In 1973 Japanese shortcut the route by climbing directly up the north face between IV and II before continuing along the west ridge. Katsuyuki Kondo reached the top in a remarkable solo performance. Koreans may have repeated the original route in 1989. Some of the expedition climbed Annapurna IV, and later two members radioed that they were close to the summit of Annapurna II on the west ridge and would have to bivouac on the descent. They disappeared but are generally credited with having reached the top. The only ascent that has not taken place from the north was in 1983, when a strong Australian team climbed the south face.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, www.climbmagazine.com, and Richard Salisbury, The Himalayan Database

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