Kathmandu, Jan 16: An ambitious winter Annapurna expedition involving a team of Eleven including climbers, Sherpas, and an assistant has been aborted due to bad weather conditions. Winds at over 100 km/h are primarily responsible for the termination of the venture, said Thaneswar Guragai, the General Manager for the Seven Summit Treks, a prominent trekking and expedition company based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The temperature also dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius during sunny days, worsening the situation, he added.
Winds at up to 35 km/h are considered safe for the climb, he said. The climbing team could only manage to reach around 6,900 meters height of Camp III, he said.
Organized by SST in collaboration with Alex Txikon, a renowned Spanish alpinist, the climbing team included Moeses Fiamoncini, a Brazilian climber, Mattia Conte, Sherpas; Chhepal Sherpa, Gyalu Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Ming Temba Sherpa, Lakpa Temba Sherpa, Pemba Tasi Sherpa, Tashi Sherpa, and a photographer Andres Navamuel.
On February 3, 1987, Polish climbers Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer made the first winter ascent of Annapurna (8,091 meters) without supplemental oxygen through the north face.
Artur Hajzer, Wanda Rutkiewicz and Jerzy Kukuczka, Annapurna 1987
On December 20, 1987, the Japanese Toshiyuki Kobayashi, Teruo Saegusa, Yasuhiro Saito, and Noboru Yamada stood atop the world's 10th highest peak for the first winter ascent of the south face and the first ascent of the mountain by Japanese in the winter. But the expedition ended in tragedy resulting in the death of Kobayashi and Saito on the descent. Since then, no one has reached the summit of Annapurna in winter.
According to his latest Facebook updates, Txikon announced the abortion of the expedition.
"Maybe we should be at BC, but for some reason, we are not, surely we have not been smart or effective enough on Annapurna. We fought it, I made a mistake on my own and we all stood up. I think staying would be foolhardy given the compromising and risky conditions on the mountain. We have decided to say yes to life, leaving behind our pretensions of continuing to try."
Attempting an 8000 meters peak is considered a challenging job, and the situation becomes more demanding in winter with the winter expedition posing challenges caused by extreme cold, high winds, and the potential for heavy snowfall.
But attempting peaks in winter was not a new task for Txikon.
In January 2023, Txikon along with six Sherpas summited Mt. Manaslu (8,163 meters) marking the historic winter ascent. Txikon stood atop the mountain in his third attempt (after an unsuccessful attempt in 2021/22 winter). It may be noted that Mt Manaslu was not summited in winter in over 20 years. As of January 2023, the peak got only five winter expeditions, and 22 climbers reached atop during winter.
In the winter of 2010, Txikon led a team of climbers to Ama Dablam before attempting winter Everest. At that time, they scaled Ama Dablam during both meteorological and astronomical winter.
The 42-year-old Spanish climber climbed 11 of 14 8000'er peaks. In 2016, he along with Simone Moro and Ali Sadpara set a record becoming the first climbers to scale Nanga Parbat in winter.
Annapurna is the world's 10th highest peak situated in the Annapurna mountain range in north-central Nepal. Soaring to 8,091 meters (26,545 feet) above sea level, the mountain is known for the difficulty and danger in its ascent and descent.
What inspired him and his team?
I would like to confess that we, and myself in particular, are so passionate about what we do that we are capable of risking our lives to reach the top; "Winning, more than anything, our freedom, achieving our goals and exalting our ego to the utmost, carrying out the most selfish act we can undertake is what pushes us to take on challenges involving the ascent of winter Annapurna." - Alex.
This was Moses Fiamoncini's fourth attempt on Annapurna
This was his fourth attempt on Annapurna. Earlier, he attempted the peak three times without supplemental O2 each time. This time too, he attempted without bottled O2.
Fiamoncini, 44, who has already made summits of eight peaks above 8000m making history as the first Brazilian to climb Dhaulagiri and the true summit of Manaslu and becoming the first Brazilian to conquer most summits of peaks above 8000m, lost his four friends--Spanish Sergi Mingote, Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr, Pakistani Ali Sadpara, and Bulgarian Atanas Skatov on K2 in winter 2021. He befriended them during his ascent of Dhaulagiri.
Now, he is on his mission to climb all 14th 8,000'er mountains. Of them, he already scaled 8 peaks. He climbed Nanga Parbat (8126m), the world’s ninth-highest peak, and K2 (8611m), the second-highest peak on earth, in 2019. He made other summits of Broad Peak (8,051m), the world’s 12th highest peak, Gasherbrum II (8035m), the world’s 13th highest mountain, Gasherbrum I (8,080m), the 11th highest peak on earth, Manaslu (8,163m), the world's eighth highest peak, Dhaulagiri (8167m), the world’s seventh highest peak and Everest (8848.86m), the world’s highest peak. He conquered all the mountains without supplemental oxygen except Everest.
This was Mattia Conte's second attempt at an 8,000'er peak in winter
This was Mattia Conte's first attempt on Annapurna in winter. Earlier, Conte, an Italian climber, attempted K2 in 2021. He declined to continue the summit push of K2 after his friend and expedition partner Sergi Mingote was killed after falling off. Previously, he has made summits of Manaslu, Gasherbrum II, and Broad Peak.