Annapurna I (8091m/26,545ft.) is the 10th highest mountain in the world and the eighth highest mountain in Nepal. Annapurna I is lowest 8000m peak but is one of the most technical climbing peaks in the Himalayas. The peak was climbed by Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal on June 3, 1950. It was not until 1970 that Annapurna was summated again from its Northwest Ridge. The peaks exact location can be found at the coordinates of 28°35’45”N83°49’20”E. The Annapurna massif contains six major peaks, Annapurna I (8091m/26,545ft) Annapurna II(7937m/26,040ft) Annapurna III(7555m/24,786ft) Annapurna IV (7525m/24,688ft) Gangapurna (7455m/24,457ft) Annapurna South (7219m/23,684ft).
Annapurna in Sanskrit is literally translated to “full of food” but is normally translated to “Goddess of the Harvests.” In Hinduism, Annapurna is a goddess of fertility and agriculture and an avatar of Durga. The entire massif and surrounding areas are protected within the 7629 square kilometers (2,946 sq mi) Annapurna Conservation Area. This was the first conservation area in Nepal and still remains the largest conservation area in Nepal. The Annapurna Conservation Area is home to several world-class treks, including the Annapurna Circuit.
Annapurna is one of the world’s most technical mountains for that reason it has a bad fatality to summit ratio. The climb is a serious adventure and one of the most difficult 8000m peaks in the world. But there is a hope, a new route was used this year and will be the best and safest route to climb moving forward. The South Face of Annapurna is one of the largest and steepest faces in the world. The face is awesome in size and difficulty. The South Face is 3000 feet higher than the Southwest face of Mt. Everest. The South Face of Annapurna is relatively free of the terrible avalanche hazards that plague the standard routes on the North Face of the mountain. Despite the great difficulty, the South Face is a logical route to the summit of Mt. Annapurna.
Zambuling Expedition provides a comprehensive service organizing all necessary permits, climbing documentation, logistics including airfares, ground transportation, porters, food along the trek and other individual services required by clients. We advise clients to use a personal climbing Sherpa guide (which we will provide) to help you reach the summit. Your personal climbing Sherpa will set up camp I, camp II and camp III with food provisions, fuel and oxygen and will guide the client on summit day.
After arriving in Kathmandu you will have a day of preparations and briefing for your climbing permit. Following that, you will be flying to Pokhara and then driving to Tatopani by jeep. From here you will be trekking to Annapurna South base camp through wild jungles, along the way you will pass through villages such as Lete and Miristi Khola. After having a few days rest, acclimatize and receive basic training from your Satori Climbing Sherpa guide you will be starting your acclimatization period up to camp I, II and III.
Base camp to camp II is a very technical section of the route. it consists of an unstable and broken glacier that has dangling seracs which can come crashing down at any time. The climb is done with 3 camps. It takes 2 hrs to get from ABC to the bottom of the climb. The start of the route is a steep 70degree section that requires 500m of fixed rope. Here is the objective hazard area of the falling seracs. From camp I to camp II the climbing is slightly less steep but is still difficult with high objective avalanche danger. This section requires roughly 1000m of fixed rope. The route from camp II to camp III requires switchback navigation on the snowfield between the seracs of the broken glacier. The summit is on an exposed ridge and does not require fixed ropes; it is done as a free ascent.
Annapurna Southwest Ridge:
Annapurna Advanced Base Camp (4200m/13,780ft):
Zambuling Expedition operates the Annapurna expedition in both the autumn and spring seasons. We normally operate the expedition from the normal route which is the Southwest ridge. However, we will operate the Annapurna expedition from the Southwest face and the Northwest Ridge. The approach starts south of Annapurna and takes you through Tatopani, Lete and Miristi Khola. Base camp is usually set up on a flat, grassy area that is sheltered from avalanches. Zambuling Expedition advanced base camp will be set up for almost a one month period. On an 8000m expedition, climbers spend most of their time at base camp, so naturally on any long expedition, base camp becomes a home away from home. We establish our camp at a walking distance between meeting points of different group and at strategic viewing positions of the Annapurna massif. Zambuling Expedition provides a personal tent which becomes your private retreat, a dining tent that is the common area, a shower tent, and toilet tent. When you arrive at the base camp it will already be fully established with hot beverages and snacks available immediately. Waiting for you upon your arrival will be your base camp staff and high altitude climbing Sherpa. Prior to your climbing period, you will have a Puja ceremony at the base camp for good luck. This is one Nepalese tradition not to miss; it represents safe climbing passage for everyone involved in the expedition.
Annapurna Camp I (5200m/17,060ft) 4hrs:
Once you have reviewed basic and advanced training from your climbing Sherpa guide, you will be ready for your attempt to climb to camp I (5300m/17,388ft). In this section of the climb, you will encounter mixed terrain. The first sections of the ridge rock and glacier. You will fix camp I in the middle of the glacier on a slope of 25º. This is a safe location and is protected from avalanches. This section of the climb is a bit technical and your climbing Sherpa guide will fix rope through this section. Some stronger climbers will skip this camp after and go right to camp II.
Annapurna Camp II (5700m/18,700ft) 4½hrs:
The climbing from camp I to camp II is a moderate section of ice with a few mixed sections of climbing. Comparing with other sections the terrain from camp I and camp II is safer and easier but you still have to climb and cross the black rock wall before heading up the glacier. Then you encounter several steep sections of blue ice at 45º, these sections are roughly 50-60, there is also another 60m high rock wall to negotiate. This section is said to be the crux of the route. Camp 2 is situated above the snowy terrace.
Annapurna Camp III (6500m/21,325ft) 5-6hrs:
Camp II to camp III is the longest distance of 800m/2,655ft. Between camp II and camp III Sherpas will fix 80% of the route. This first section of climbing you will be crossing a glacier from east to west; you will then meet a 55º wall, which is almost 500m in length. Climbers have reported that this section is easier climbing but is still not to be taken lightly, your Sherpa will fix ropes on this section of the route. Be advised that there is exposure to cold and wind in this section. In autumn there have been reports of direct sun hitting this section making it feel very warm. This section is little dangerous in the autumn season because the snow slope is covering a layer of ice which makes the section avalanche prone.
Annapurna Camp IV (7100m/23,294ft) 3½hrs:
Climbing from camp III to camp IV feels like a short distance. Continue on the plateau where there are crevasses and seracs. Continue to the base of a spur which will join a big couloir. Camp IV can be set between 7100m-7200m in a panoramic rock cave. As all climbers are aware the oxygen levels are very low at this altitude so it is expected that any effort no matter how minimal or trivial will feel arduous. In this section, you have to climb for 3 hours on steep snow and big wall at a 50-55º slope. This section is little dangerous in the autumn season because the snow slope is covering a layer of ice which make the section avalanche prone. Zambuling team will make an easy traverse to Camp IV at 7100m which allows you to have a shorter summit day.
Annapurna Summit (8,091m/26,545ft)16-17hrs:
Summit day is the main goal during the climbing period. Most climbers begin their summit bid at 11:00-12: 00 pm. If all goes well you will reach the summit between 7:00-10: 00 am. Below the main summit is a false summit, the main summit is reached via a ridge. It takes about 4 hours to return to camp IV from the summit and another 2 hours to get to camp II for an overnight stay. It requires an average of 900m of fixed rope above camp IV and below the summit. This is the reason we request almost 900m rope above camp III to the summit. Most sections are blue ice and snow. The climbing is not technical in the early part as you ascend through several basins with short snow headwalls. The climb passes the false summit and finishes on an exposed ridge to the true summit for a spectacular view of the mighty Himalaya. Zambuling Expedition Sherpa guides will fix ropes, break trail and make every effort to assist the group to reach the summit of the 10th highest mountain in the world.