April 6, 2012
Annapurna IV (Photo by Brad Clement)
What makes Annapurna 4 different?
Annapurna may be new to IMGs line up but this isn’t the first time IMG has run an expedition to this mountain. In 1987 Eric Simonson & Craig John and a few adventurous clients made it to 7000m on the peak, but we’re forced off the mountain due to a massive snow storm.
Twenty five years later, that trip continues. Now, I can’t say exactly what the last 500m to the summit will be like, so I’m excited that there is an element of the unknown with this peak for everybody. Without a doubt we all are as prepared as we could ever be; we’ve read all there is to read and studied the pictures, we’ve even gone on google maps to simulate the climb, but unlike many of the other peaks I’ve climbed, I can honestly say I don’t know exactly what will be around the corner. It definitely presents a great guiding challenge, and the opportunity to go where very few people have ever been before. Though their footsteps are long gone, I’m excited to retrace those of Eric and Craig. This is going to be a great adventure for all involved.
What are you looking forward to most?
Four years ago I sat in a tent at Karanga camp on Kilimanjaro listening Craig John talk about his attempt on Annapurna IV in 1987. He talked passionately about the brilliant ridge climbing and described it as one of the most beautiful peaks he’d ever been on. I have to admit that I was a little embaressed because though I had walked the Annapurna circuit two years prior to hearing Craig talk about A4 I couldnt place the peak mentally. Everything is so big over there that I spent my entire time just in awe. Fast forward a few years to last fall when I lead IMGs first expedition to Chulu West along the Annapurna circuit. This time I was on the lookout during our approach to Chulu, not yet knowing I’d be leading the Annapurna IV trip. We we’re able to spend a couple days walking along side and underneath Annapurna IV. CJ was right, the mountain was beautiful. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but I told myself one day I would be back to guide A4. The stars aligned, Simo gave me a call, and as I type this email to Tye, I’m sitting at SEATAC on my way. Pretty cool stuff.
What kind of climb are you expecting?
The research we’ve done tells me we’re looking at a very exciting climb. To start, we’ve got a seven day trek into base camp, which offers some of the most incredible views and interesting trekking terrain I’ve ever experienced. After we acclimitize at base camp, our first objective will be to get through the 1000ft. rock band that will give us access to the ridge and our first camp. From Camp 1 we are looking at navigating our way up the ridge where we will be met with moderate rolling terrain with the potential for some short sections of steep climbing. I anticipate this to be magnificent! From there on up to camp three we will have to find a way over the bergschrund (a very large crevasse formed from the top of the glacier pulling away from the mountain). Once we get past the “schrund” we’ll be weaving our way across the top of the ridge where we may trade the fixed lines for more traditional glacier travel to reach C3. From there I think we will be using a mix of fixed lines and traditional glacier travel with the possibility of a little bit of rock before reaching the summit at 24,700ft. A little bit of everything and I can’t wait.