Yesterday I posted a Himalayan Update in which I said it was “Now or Never” on Annapurna. I reported that Spanish climber Iñaki Ochoa, along with Romanian Horia Colibasanu, and Russian Alexey Bolotov were making a summit push amidst cold and snow weather. This morning ExWeb has posted a newsflash saying that Iñaki could be in trouble on the mountain.
According to the report, the three men were approaching the summit and were within 100m of the top when Iñaki gave up his bid and turned back with severe frostbite on his hands. Horia turned back with him to assist him down to camp at 7400m, while Alexey continued upward. When they reached Camp 5, the Spaniard called home and said that they had run out of rope near the top and that he didn’t want to risk damaging his hands further when they were already in a delicate state.
At the time of the call he seemed to be alright except for the frostbite, but apparently a half-hour later he suffered what ExWeb calls a stroke, and began to cough and vomit violently. The update says that he was left in a near unconscious state. As of the last update from his team, Iñaki and Horia were still in Camp 5. Horia has administered some medicine and was helping Iñaki to rest, but he was searching for someone to help them down the mountain.
The climbers are starting to run low on supplies. It is reported that their satellite phone batteries are running low and no doubt their stores of food and fuel are near an end as well. The question is, does anyone else remain on Annapurna’s South Side to assist in a rescue? Ueli Steck and Simon Anthamatten were in base camp a few days ago, after abandoning their summit bid, but it is unclear at this time if they are still there or have begun the trek out.
Keep your fingers crossed that Horia and Alexey can work together to get Iñaki down. Annapurna is a treacherous enough mountain when everyone is health, and a rescue at 7400m, with the threats of avalanche, will be no small feat. Iñaki is a very experienced mountaineer having topped out on 12 of the 14 8000m peaks, but this is another example of how altitude sickness can hit anyone, and just how dangerous it can be.
I’ll post updates as they become available.
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