Himalaya Spring 2019: First Summits of the Season on Annapurna!

The first successful summits of the 2019 spring climbing season in the Himalaya took place on Annapurna today with Seven Summits Treks reportedly putting ten climbers on top of the mountain. A brief weather window reportedly opened up earlier today that allowed the team to reach the top of the tenth highest peak in the world in the late afternoon Nepali time with the potential for more climbers to follow suit tomorrow.

Amongst those who summited Annapurna today was Nirmal “Nims” Purja, the former Gurkha soldier who is attempting all 14 8000-meter peaks in a single year. Reportedly he was amongst the first to summit, knocking off the first of his objectives as part of his Project Possible 14/7 expedition.

If all goes according to plan, he’ll summit five more Himalayan peaks this spring, before traveling to Pakistan this summer for another five 8000-meter mountains there. After that, it’s off to Tibet in the fall for the final three peaks located in that country.

Those plans are contingent on a lot of different variables of course, including adequate weather windows, logistical support, and Nims staying healthy too. Still, he’s now knocked off one of the most difficult of all of the big mountains, clearing a significant hurdle for sure.

According to The Himalayan Times, the other members of the team that summited Annapurna today included American Don Bowie, Turkish climbing legend Tunc Findik, Naoko Watanabe and Yachiyo Suzuki of Japan, Sebastiano Valentini from Italy, Haakon Aasvang of Norway, and Xin Gu Xiaodan Gao from China. They were accompanied to the summit by their Sherpa guides and high-altitude support team as well, with roughly 20 people in total topping out today.

If this current weather window holds out there could be even more climbers heading to the summit tomorrow. Seven Summit Treks chairmen Mingma David Sherpa says that his team sent 31 climbers up the slope, with some in position at Camp 4 to make the push to the top. A stable weather pattern is expected over the next few days, so it seems likely that we’ll have more successful summit soon.

While April 23 may sound early for the first summits of the season, in recent years that has been fairly normal on Annapurna. Over on Everest they’re just starting their acclimatization rotations with an eye on summiting sometime around May 10 or so.

But due to its proclivity for avalanche danger, climbers have been getting to Annapurna early, prior to the spring thaws. This helps to keep the mountain safer, as once temperatures start to warm up things get a lot dicier on the peak. Hopefully that continues to hold true for a few more days and everyone will have a chance to get up and down safely.

We’ll be keeping an eye on where Nims Purja goes next as his progress will be fun to follow. Now that he is acclimatized properly he should be ready to go for his remaining objectives. As a reminder, back in 2017 he summited Makalu, Lhotse, and Everest twice in the span of just five days. That means that provided the weather is cooperative, he could knock off a few more summits in rapid succession. We’ll keep you posted.

Kraig Becker