It seems I’ve been a little quick to write off the fall climbing season in the Himalaya. The arrival of Cyclone Phailin a couple of weeks back brought copious amounts of snow to the region and effectively put an end to several expeditions on the big mountains. But apparently not everyone gave up their climbs when the heavy snows arrived as ExWeb is reporting that there has been a pair of successful summits on Annapurna and once again they came from the difficult South Face.
According to the story, climbers Yannick Graziani and Stephane Benoist topped out yesterday morning local time after spending approximately a week on their summit push. The duo arrived in Nepal in late September and spent some time acclimatizing on smaller peaks nearby before heading over to Annapurna Base Camp. They arrived on the mountain late last week and almost immediately launched their attempt. They had expected to make the push in four days time, but it ended up taking them the entire week instead, although they were finally able to reach the top yesterday.
There is no word yet on whether or not they have gotten back down safely and we all know that is a big question mark on Annapurna. The mountain is known for being very difficult and prone to avalanches. Considering the amount of snow that has been dumped on the Himalaya recently, lets keep our fingers crossed that Yannick and Stephane get back to Base Camp safely.
This was the second attempt on Annapurna for this team. They made a previous go at climbing the mountain back in the fall of 2010. That attempt was thwarted by bad weather and excessive snow on the upper slopes of the mountain.
This is of course the second time this fall that climbers have successfully negotiated the South Face of Annapurna. Swiss climber Ueli Steck made his epic solo summit, in just 28-hours no less – a few weeks back along the same route. Conditions were a bit different then however as Ueli’s summit took place before the arrival the cyclone.
Congratulations to the French climbers on a successful expedition. Well done! Now get home safe.
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