Trekkers on the Annapurnas Circuit

Travel Inspiration Annapurna Nepal - A Brief Synopsis

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Annapurna is bordered on the south by the Pokhara Valley, by the Kali Ganaki Gorge to the west, and by the Marshyangdi River on the north and east sides. 

The Annapurna Massif boasts a single peak (Annapurna I) topping out at 8,091 metres (26,500 feet). More importantly, there are at least 13 more peaks higher than 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) and a further 16 that are more than 6,000 metres high (20,000 feet).

Annapurna literally means 'She Who is Full of Food', but a better translation is 'Goddess of the Harvest'. Annapoorna devi is a Hindu mother-goddess of the hearth and kitchen, and provider of food and comfort. She is closely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Annapurna Conservation Area

This was the first conservation area in Nepal, and is still the largest. It was established in 1985, and is the responsibility of the National Trust for Nature Conservation.

It incorporates more than 7,500 square kilometres of territory, including lands in the Lamjung, Myagdi, Kaski, Mustang and Manang districts. Its lowest point is only 790 metres above sea level, and its highest is the peak of Annapurna I at more than 8000 metres.

View from the Annapurna Sanctuary

The Annapurna Peaks

These have been called the most dangerous mountains in the world for climbers, and with good reason. Of the 191 summit attempts on Annapurna I up to March of 2012, there had been 61 fatalities. This is a fatality to summit ratio of 32%, which is the highest of any 8,000 metre plus peak worldwide. In October of 2013 alone more than 39 people died in snowstorms and avalanches both on and around Annapurna.

The picture isn't quite so bleak if you only look at modern data. If you only include figures for the last 25 years, Kangchenjunga has a worse safety record. Nonetheless, these are not peaks for beginners of any kind.

Annapurna I - 8,091 m (26,545 ft)

Despite this deadly history, Annapurna I was actually the first peak of greater than 8000 metres to be climbed. Louis Lachenal and Maurice Herzog were the first to reach the summit in June of 1950. Until Everest itself was finally summited a few years later, this was the highest summit ever attained, despite the fact that higher non-summit climbs had been made on Everest as early as the 1920s. There is a documentary about the expedition called "Victoire sur l'Annapurna".

The first successful winter ascent of Annapurna I only occurred in 1987, by Artur Hajzer and Jerzy Kukuczka. Annapurna's South Face remained unconquered until 1970 when Dougal Haston and Don Williams first managed it, narrowly beating Henry Day's British Army expedition. The first successful solo of the South Face was in 2007, by a Slovenian named Toma? Humar. His route took him first to Roc Noir then on to Annapurna East at 8,047 metres. In October of 2013 Ueli Steck managed a solo attempt along the Lafaille route in what has been called one of the most impressive climbs in Himalayan history. This was Steck's third attempt, and he managed to get from Base Camp to the summit and back in only 28 hours.

Annapurna II - 7,937 m (26,040 ft)

Annapurna II is the easternmost of the large peaks. It is a fully independent peak, and not much lower or any less prominent than Annapurna I. It was first successfully summited by J. O. M. Roberts' expedition in 1960, a feat not repeated until 1969. The Macartney-Snape expedition summited Annapurna II in 1983, the first to take the south spur route. The expedition was trapped on the mountain by a blizzard, and had been without food for five days when they finally made Base Camp, much to the surprise and relief of their camp crew. The first successful winter ascent of Annapurna II was in 2007, by Lhakpa Thinduk, Lhakpa Wangel, Temba Nur and Philipp Kunz.

Annapurna III - 7,555 m (24,786 ft)

This peak was first conquered in 1961 by Captain Mohan Singh Kohli's expedition. Captain Kohli made the summit with Sonam Girmi and Sinam Gyatso.

Annapurna IV - 7,525 m (24,688 ft)

Annapurna IV was first successfully summited by the Heinz Steinmetz expedition.

Gangapurna - 7,455 m (24,457 ft)

Gangapurna went unclimbed until 1965, when G?nther Hauser's expedition successfully ascended by the East Ridge. Fully eleven people took part in the summit attempt.

Annapurna South - 7,219 m (23,684 ft)

Annapurna South is also called Moditse and Annapurna Dakshin. It was summited by Mingma Tsering and S. Uyeyo in 1964, as part of a Japanese expedition.