The mighty Annapurna, the tenth-tallest mountain in the world, is renowned worldwide for its beauty. But there is a shadow of this diamond too. The Annapurna is also known for its utter danger.
Climbing Annapurna is considered one of the most challenging and technical. Many people have also lost their lives while doing so. 9 News, a renowned Australian online newspaper, recently published a piece of news stating that out of the 365 brave mountaineers who dared to climb this beast, more than 72 have died while doing so.
Further, the journey of climbing Annapurna Himal is so dangerous that many experts even compare it to climbing Mount K2, the second tallest mountain in the world. This is not a good fact because Mount K2 is considered one of the trickiest mountains to climb in the 8000 peaks.
But why is it so?
Why is Annapurna considered one of the most dangerous mountains?
If these questions plague you like it does us, then continue reading this article as we discover the reasons behind the burning question of why Annapurna is so dangerous.
Why Is Annapurna Called A Dangerous Mountain To Climb?
The landscape of Annapurna is one of a kind, and knowing more about this might help solve the mystery of why is Annapurna so dangerous. Many mountaineers speculate that the reason behind the high mortality rate among mountaineers who bravely climb this mighty mountain is the landscape.
In addition, adding to the rugged and rough topography of the mountain is its instability which has claimed many lives throughout the years. There is also a large amount of glaciers and snow in the Annapurna area. Further, the trails are also pretty undefined.
Also, did you know that Annapurna’s turnover time, which is the time of climbing down after reaching the summit, is one of the longest? That means that coming down is also one of the most hazardous parts of your Annapurna climbing experience.
To find out more about why is Annapurna so dangerous, let us look at Annapurna’s topographical characteristics, which add to its danger factor.
The Seracs And Crevasses
Annapurna is a stunning mountain, but it is also filled with a large number of seracs. When crevasses intersect atop a glacier, it forms a huge column or block of ice known as a serac. Did you know a serac can be as big as a normal house? With a size that big, it is bound to be a looming danger while climbing it.
Seracs are felt as a threat in the mountaineering community because they can break down without any warning. Its unpredictability is something that makes it a hassle. Although the constant freezing temperature might make a serac intact for some time, constant glacier movement may trigger it to topple down.
Did you know that Ian Clough, a British expedition member who was the first to reach the south face of Annapurna in 1970, was killed by a falling serac? After successfully reaching the southern face of Annapurna Himal, Ian died just below Camp II while descending the mountain.
Also, crevasses or deep open cracks plague this area making the climb ten times harder. Many people have fallen inside the crevasses and have either been injured or even died because of it. An Indian climber named Anurag Maloo fell into a crevasse on April 17, 2023.
He fell after successfully reaching Annapurna I and climbing down. Just as he was about to reach Camp II, he was using a relatively shorter rope which resulted in him hitting a block of ice and eventually falling inside a crevasse.
Although many, even Maloo’s family members, had suspected that he was no more, he was miraculously rescued by a rescue team four days later.
The Steep Route
Climbers worldwide claim that the steep sections found while climbing Annapurna make it extremely difficult to walk on it. The steep route can be the top answer to why is Annapurna so dangerous.
In addition, the steepness of the route results from the rapid height gain. Although the length of ascending Annapurna is only 190 kilometers long, the amount of elevation you have to climb increases exponentially. Also, climbing from a place called Thulo Bugin campsite is incredibly hard.
Further, rocks and boulders that you will encounter make it hard to pass through. And if you are climbing during the monsoon season, the paths will be extremely slippery. Additionally, winters mean knee-deep snow, which will be hard to navigate. On top of that, there will be sleek glaciers too.
In addition, since you are spending a lot of time climbing and coming down to Annapurna Himal, the risk of falling is also high. So, the steepness of the route and the prolonged time you take is also the reason why is Annapurna so dangerous.
The Looming Risk Of Avalanches
Avalanches are a form of landslide. But instead of soil commonly eroded during a landslide, an avalanche is unique because it slides masses of snow, ice, rock, sometimes even soil, and other mountain-related materials very swiftly down a mountain slope. So, when climbing Annapurna, the chances of you coming close to an avalanche is high. The speed of an avalanche can be as high as 100 miles an hour.
Because this mountain lies in the horizontal avalanche area, which is among the most receptive to avalanches among other mountains, since climbing Annapurna is already incredibly hard and technical, coming in contact with an avalanche makes the experience even more difficult. So, do not expect a completely safe climbing experience while climbing this mountain unless you are an incredibly lucky individual with a killer mountain climbing record.
Also, the chances of you being rescued from or after an avalanche are nonexistent. Rescue missions are incredibly difficult in Annapurna, so they do not even exist. Expecting to be alone in and after an avalanche is almost the only predictable thing while climbing this mighty mountain.
In 2014, mountaineers from various nationalities lost their lives due to an avalanche while climbing Annapurna. The number of dead individuals was as high as 39! However, there is also a chance that the number may exceed 39. The avalanche was caused by a hurricane named Hudhud. Also, there was a recent avalanche that occurred in January of 2020. Annapurna Himal is also very susceptible to a deadly event known as a rock fall.
So avalanches are also one of the answers to why is Annapurna so dangerous question.
The High-Velocity Winds
The chances of you facing high-velocity winds in the Annapurna Himal region are extremely high. In addition, it is a known fact that winds blowing at Annapurna’s summit are as strong as a hurricane.
And since summits are notorious for having freezing temperatures, the cold mixed with the high-velocity wind is why is Annapurna so dangerous. Finally, the wind, which blows at full power, is unpredictable and can arrive in any season.
The Heavy Snowfall Zone
The snow found in this area is almost permanent all year round. Also, when and at what time the snow will appear is unpredictable. Snow makes it difficult to climb. The chances of skidding in snow are also high, making injury almost certain.
Although snowfall may happen anytime during your climb in Annapurna Himal, the probability of it is high during winters.
So, if you are considering climbing Annapurna, double-check the climatic condition to ensure you face the wind and heavy snowfall as little as possible. Since the Annapurna trail is already so steep, adding snow into the mix results in danger.
Snowfall leads to the weather in Annapurna to be extremely cold, and sometimes the temperatures may drop to minus. Because of the low temperature, many people are susceptible to frost bites.
In addition, frostbite is a dangerous medical condition in which the skin and the tissues lying under it freeze. If left untreated can even cause death. Also, adding to the frostbite of hypothermia, climbing Annapurna results in the death of many individuals because of the high probability of slips and falls all over the area.
Also, many suffer from slurred speech due to the extremely low temperature. Since the amount of oxygen is also less with increasing altitude, the freezing temperature makes it even more difficult to ascend to Annapurna Himal. Additionally, the wind, almost at full speed in this area, is known to blow people over. Blowing over can lead to dangerous consequences like trapping one in an icy condition.
Although Annapurna boasts a shorter climb than Everest, the length does nothing in its favor. It adds to its danger because people might need to pay more attention to how difficult climbing Annapurna is.
Successful mountaineers who were lucky enough to reach the summit had a hard time passing over after reaching the summit too. So, if one thinks reaching the summit is hard, the fact may be quite the opposite.
The Tricky Weather Condition
Annapurna is a hub for unpredictable weather from snow falls to high-velocity winds is a normal incidence in the region. There is no end to determining the exact climatic condition of this beautiful mountain. In addition, the weather is extremely unpredictable throughout your climbing experience, but it worsens after passing Thorung La.
Thorung La, which is 5,416 meters or 1,7769.03 feet above sea level, is unforgivable. The weather can make you sick and unfit to resume climbing.
Additionally, Annapurna Himal is prone to unpredictable rainfall. Although rainfalls are mainly booked for monsoon and summer seasons, you can expect a downpour almost anytime while you climb the mountain.
One thing that is a permanent unpredictability of rainfall is an overcast sky that, in turn, reduces any climber’s visibility making the climbing expedition even more difficult. If you can’t see, then the chances of you falling on steep slopes or ravines and landing on rocks are high.
Also, the trend of keeping records of Annapurna’s weather, climate, and temperature could be more consistent. So, the lack of accurate information also answers the question: why is Annapurna so dangerous?
From records, we can say that the best months for climbing Annapurna are April and May. But keep in mind that these months also aren’t bulletproof.
The Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is also one of the most dangerous parts of climbing Annapurna and the reason why is Annapurna so dangerous. In addition, altitude sickness is a major health condition with symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, and a noticeable lack of energy.
Also, in a more complex case, a person may suffer from high-altitude pulmonary edema and cerebral edema, leading to death.
Normally, acclimatization solves the altitude sickness problem, but since the height gain of Annapurna is so rapid, this condition might become a problem. On top of that, there is also the unpredictable weather and difficult topography to battle.
Confusing Number of Peaks
Yes, adding to the unforgiving landscape of Annapurna, this mountain doesn’t cease to surprise us by shocking us with a plural number of summits, does it?
So, did you know that Annapurna has four main summits and two auxiliary summits? Yes, adding to the burning question of why is Annapurna so dangerous is its vast list of summits. Annapurna Himal isn’t just a tall and proud mountain; it is more of a range known as the Annapurna massif range. Let us break it down for you.
The summits, most popularly known as Annapurna I and Annapurna II, stand 26,545 feet or 8,091 meters and 26,040 feet or 7,937 meters above sea level. And they can be found at the western and eastern end of the Annapurna Himal, the Nepali name of Annapurna.
Similarly, the other two peaks, Annapurna III and Annapurna IV, are at a height of 24,786 feet or 7,555 meters and 24,688 feet or 7,525 meters. These two peaks lie between Annapurna I and Annapurna II. In addition, the two auxiliary summits, the Annapurna South and Annapurna Fang, are 7,219 meters or 2,3684 feet and 7647 meters or 25089 feet above sea level.
So, reaching the summit is more than just an adventure. It is a conquest. Also, many say that reaching Annapurna I, the westernmost peak of Annapurna Himal, is filled with steep topography.
Adding to the ghastly steepness, there is also a rock wall of 2987.04 meters or 9,800 feet you need to climb while reaching the summit. Getting your rock climbing gear on is probably a good idea. Also, while you make your arduous journey towards Annapurna I, you will meet friends, such as rock falls, extremely unpredictable and unstable grounds, and icy walls.
So, reaching the Annapurna IV summit would be a good idea if you wish to climb Annapurna and want a safer journey.
All your friends will ensure you either injure yourself, fall somewhere, or even die. Don’t believe us? Well, two lion-hearted climbers who climbed Annapurna Himal were found dead under seedy circumstances. So, no wonder why is Annapurna so dangerous is one of the most searched Google questions when anyone is even thinking of climbing this mountain.
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How Can We Prepare to Reduce the Difficulty?
Annapurna is dangerous; this is a fact.
But there are things you can do to mitigate the dangerous journey of climbing this beautiful mountain. Of course, the unpredictability of the weather conditions makes it a difficult climb, but preparation will come in handy, even saving your life.
Even though the trend is that only experienced mountaineers embark on climbing Annapurna, you can still do it. Make sure that you do extensive exercises and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Also, climb other mountains to know about the ins and outs of climbing an 8000s.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
Health problems are rampant while climbing Annapurna, ranging from altitude sickness, frostbite, and falling to fractures and heart attacks. So, in your mountain climbing team, include a health professional with extensive knowledge about mountains. Also, train yourselves and your teammates in first aid and basic medical skills so that everybody can help each other.
Prepare, Prepare, And Prepare
Preparation is the key to success while climbing Annapurna. Gather every tool, gear, and equipment you need while embarking on this journey. Keep everything within the focus, especially in harboring a good list of everything you need and collect everything and have a proper plan of carrying it too.
Do proper research about everything from weather, climate avalanches to winds, etc., and prepare for them.
Climbing Annapurna is possible. People have done it. Did you know that there is someone who climbed Annapurna without external oxygen?
A Pakistani mountaineer, Sajid Ali Sadpara, climbed Annapurna Himal without oxygen in 2023.
Of course, he was well-experienced and properly trained, but you can do it. So train and prepare well and who knows, you might be the one climbing this dangerous peak.