In fact, there were so many relatively inexperienced climbers this year on Annapurna that even easier sections had to be fixed, which meant that the lead team ran out of rope high on the mountain. The expedition then radioed for a helicopter that dropped rope, oxygen, food and other supplies at nearly 7,000m on the north face of Annapurna. A helicopter also lifted a Taiwanese climber suffering frost-bite from Camp III to Base Camp.
This use of helicopters has led to more criticism about the over-commercialisation of Himalayan mountaineering, and some climbing bloggers have contrasted it with the pure pioneering adventure of the French expedition of 1950 on Annapurna.
But it was also this that allowed 68 people to summit the 8,091m peak by 16 April without a single fatality—all the more remarkable because Annapurna has the highest ratio (32%) of deaths on any mountain in the Himalaya. Of the 68 who got to the top this season, 14 were women, and among them six were Nepali.
It helps that Dhaulagiri is just across the Kali Gandaki Valley and so close to Annapurna that climbers just moved across for the second climb. Most Annapurna summiteers are also on Dhaulagiri, where fresh snow had delayed climbing till early this week.
While most, including 82-year-old Carlos Soria and the six Nepali women, are on the easier north ridge route, there are some veterans attempting the never-climbed northwest spur of Dhaulagiri which at 8,167m is the world’s seventh-highest mountain. Many of the climbers on the northwest ridge have tried to get to the top on this route several times in the past.
Read also: The Other ABC Trek, Bimal Kadel