On the tenth highest mountain, Annapurna, 26,545 feet, at least one person has died, another is missing and over five needed to be rescued at 24,000 feet. Poor weather was part of the problem, and high winds and heavy snow are in the forecast for this weekend.
Noel Hanna, 56, died in his tent at Camp 4 at 23,300 feet after summiting without supplemental oxygen. His sister, Irene, told the BBC that her brother had called, saying he was not feeling well. His body was recovered and flown to Kathmandu. The Irish climber was an experienced mountain guide and had summited Everest ten times plus K2 in 2019.
He was highly respected within the mountaineering community. Bill Burke, who once held the record for the oldest American to summit Everest, said the Hanna showed amazing strength and courage when in 2017, he led a small Sherpa team to the summit of Burke-Khang, a mountain named after Burke. Hanna and his wife, Lynne, are the only married couple to have summited Everest from the Nepal and Tibet sides.
The missing climber is Indian, Anurag Maloo, 34, is missing after reportedly falling into a crevasse below Camp 3. He had abandoned his summit bid and was returning from Camp 4 to the base camp when he went missing. Ground and aerial searches have not found him. His family is calling for more help with the search. Both Hanna and Maloo were with the Nepali operator guide, Seven Summits Treks.
Meanwhile, helicopters using a long-line technique rescued at least five other climbers. Chhang Dawa Sherpa, Seven Summits Treks’ Executive Director, told the Himalayan Times. Three clients needed evacuation from Camp 4 after they became sick during their descent from the summit.
One evacuee, Pakistani climber Shehroze Kashif, 21, is famous in his home country, along with Sajid Ali Sadpara, who summited Annapurna over the weekend. Sadpara is the son of the highly renowned Pakistani climber, Ali Sadpara, who died while climbing K2 in 2021. The son has gone on to summit five of the fourteen 8000-meter peaks. Kashif, 21, is the youngest Pakistani to summit Everest and summited Broad Peak at age 17. The other climbers rescued included France’s Jonathan Lamy, Pakistani Naila Kiani, and Indian climbers Baljeet Kaur and Arjun Vajpai. Kiani is the first Pakistani woman to climb Annapurna.
A long-line rescue is a technique that involves a rope attached to a rescuer who is lowered to a person. The rescuer attaches the rope to a rescue harness; then, they are flown to safety. Some individuals can attach the rope themselves and don’t need aid. The method requires low winds and good visibility. On Annapurna, a small window appeared, allowing the climbers to be rescued one by one at approximately 24,000 feet. The highest long-line rescue was in 2013 at 25,590 feet on Everest.
Strong and experienced Polish climbers Bartek Ziemski and Oswald Rodrigo Pereira of Poland summited yesterday and skied down. They didn’t use supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. Annapurna used to have a death rate in the low thirties, but with Nepali companies using strong Sherpa support, the rate has fallen to the high teens. It remains a deadly climb, usually only attempted by the most experienced climbers.
Meanwhile, over on Everest, the fixed ropes are set to Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. I expect the Sherpas to reach the summit by May 1. As of April 18, 2023, the Ministry of Tourism has issued 396 permits to foreigners on thirty-seven teams. 18% of the permit holders are female. China now leads the country list with eighty-five climbers. The US is next at seventy-four and India at thirty-three.
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