The 1998 International Annapurna I South Face Expedition has been granted permission by His Majestys Government, Kingdom of Nepal, to attempt the South Face of 8091-meter high Annapurna I during the autumn of 1998.
Annapurna is significant in that it was the first 8000-meter peak ever climbed. The 1950 first ascent via the North Face was immortalized in Maurice Herzogs book Annapurna, the sine qua non of mountaineering literature. It took 20 years for another team to succeed on the mountain. The 1970 ascent of the South Face of Annapurna by Chris Boningtons team was a landmark in the history of mountaineering. This is a mountain that is among the most familiar of mountains, yet one that is very rarely climbed.
The South Face of Annapurna is one of the largest and steepest faces in the world. The face is awesome in size and difficulty. The South Face is 3000 feet higher than the southwest face of Mt. Everest. To our knowledge the only larger objective is the Diamir Face of Nanga Parbat, which is much less technical, having been soloed by Messner on its first ascent in 1970. Due to appalling avalanche hazards, fatality rates on Annapurna are nearly three times greater than for expeditions to other 8000-meter peaks, including Mt. Everest and K2. Annapurna claimed the lives of two women during the 1978 American Womens Annapurna Expedition. Anatoli Boukreev, whose participation in the heroic rescues on Mt. Everest in May of 1996, was documented in the popular books The Climb and Into Thin Air, was tragically killed by an avalanche on a satellite peak of Annapurna last Christmas day. The South Face is relatively free of the terrible avalanche hazards that plague the standard routes on the North Face of the mountain, despite the great difficulty; the South Face is a logical route to the summit. We are an American-Canadian team of non-professional, but skilled climbers who have the goal of climbing this 12,000-foot face by a new route. This new route is a direct finish to the Bonington route, through a 700 meter-high sheer rock face situated at an altitude of more than 7,000-meters. It is unprecedented for Americans to make a climb of this magnitude. In this era of wealthy socialites paying world famous climbers to guide them up well trodden routes on renowned peaks, it is a rare thing to see a group of highly motivated amateurs attempt a new route on one of the highest peaks on the planet.