Himalaya Spring 2016: Weather Window Slams Shut on Annapurna, No Summits


It was a tough weekend on Annapurna, where a number of teams had hoped to make a summit push amidst a narrow weather window. But that window proved to be shorter than expected and as a result no one managed to top out as planned.

On Friday, several climbers managed to reach Camp 4 at 7000 meters (22,965 ft) right on schedule.  After a brief rest in C4, they then set off for the summit that evening reaching as high as 7800 meters (25,590 ft) before high winds prevented them from going higher. This winds reportedly approached 60-70 km (37-43 mph), which is simply too strong and dangerous to allow anyone to press on to the top. All of the climbers turned back, and the majority of them have now safely returned to Base Camp while a few squads have rotated up to Camp 1 and 2 as they acclimatize.

According to Chris Jensen Burke, her team moved up to Camp 3 on this most recent summit push, but heavy snows at C2 slowed progress, and by the time they got to C3 it was becoming clear that the weather window was closing. Things were quiet at that point on the mountain, but higher up the winds were swirling dangerously. So, she and her group elected to abort their push and head back down.

Several teams are preparing to leave Annapurna today. Their resources and tie have run out, and now they must depart. But others remain, with Burke herself saying she has everything she needs to make one more attempt. That won’t come until after April 22 though, as the weather forecasts now indicate that the high winds and snows will blow through than. After that, they hope to make another summit push. That would start late this week or next weekend.

Elsewhere in the Himalaya, teams are getting settled in their Base Camps and starting their acclimatization rotations. On the South Side of Everest and Lhotse, the first teams have now moved through the Khumbu Icefall and climbed up to Camp 1. On the North Side of Everest in Tibet, teams are just arriving and getting settled as well. Rope fixing is underway, but acclimatization efforts haven’t fully launched just yet. That will change soon however as climbers go on the move.

That’s it for today. More to come soon.

Kraig Becker