Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Himalaya Spring 2015: Two Climbers Perish on Annapurna Following Successful Summit

There is sad news from the Himalaya today where we have received word that two climbers have perished on Annapurna following successful summits yesterday. Details of what exactly happened remain scarce at this time, but it seems that Finnish climber Samuli Mansikka and Pemba Sherpa both died while descending the mountain earlier. They are the first two casualties of the Spring climbing season in Nepal, where most other mountaineers are only just starting to arrive in Kathmandu.

As reported yesterday, Samuli and Pemba were part of the Dreamers Destinations team that topped out on Annapurna. The squad managed to put 13 climbers on the summit amidst good, early spring weather. It seems likely that following their successful summit bid the team returned to Camp 4 and rested there overnight before attempting to descend back to Base Camp today. Apparently an accident  must have occurred on that descent, claiming the lives of both climbers. What that accident was remains a mystery, but Annapurna is notorious for having frequent and deadly avalanches.

According to the article linked to above, the teammates of the two fallen climbers are hoping to retrieve their bodies from the mountain. Rescue helicopters have also been sent to assist in that process. The two men lost their lives at roughly 7000 meters (22,290 ft), so that process will not be an easy one.

This is a sad start to the climbing season which remains on the brink of actually starting. As mentioned, most climbers are only now preparing to set out for the Himalaya, with most not arriving in Nepal until next week. But the Dreamers Destinations team – amongst others – arrived on Annapurna early in an attempt to climb the mountain before it gets more dangerous later in the spring. At this point, the mountain is mostly still frozen following the long winter, and the heavy snows that come later have not started yet. Their plans for summiting early seemed to have worked brilliantly, although this accident will cast a long shadow over Annapurna, a mountain that is considered to be one of the deadliest in the world.

My condolences go out to the friends and family of Samuli and Pemba in their time of need.

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