October 9, 2013: Summit success on Annapurna Southface

Monday, 14 October 2013 18:46
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Since our arrival our teamwork was perfect. We have installed our ABC at 5000 meters. Tenji and Nima always brought us some fresh food up there. The weather war great until October 3, 2013. Then - right at my birthday October 4, 2013 - the weather became bad and we had a reason to go back to our base camp.

Since our arrival our teamwork was perfect. We have installed our ABC at 5000 meters. Tenji and Nima always brought us some fresh food up there. The weather war great until October 3, 2013. Then - right at my birthday October 4, 2013 - the weather became bad and we had a reason to go back to our base camp.


A couple of days later, it was rainy, we went back to ABC. Don followed up later on. He wanted to wait until the weather would get better. It has snowed quite a lot and we decided to wait another day. We …. observed the wall. We wanted to know what was going on in the wall. We all spent together the day. The weather was beautiful at ABC. The sun worked all day long so that the snow could harden.


On October 9, 2013 at 05.30 am we started. Dan Patitucci and Jonah, Don Bowie and I. We moved to the foot of the face. Dan Patitucci and Jonah are responsible for the pictures.


Finally all just fit. The weather was ok, but the wind was quite strong. Don Bowie, my parnter, decided at the Bergschrund not enter the face. He said that it was technically too demanding to climb the face without rope. And this is the basic premise for such a route. From the Bergschrund I climbed alone.


At the first moment it was difficult for me to switch on soloing. But the good conditions helped me to quickly get focussed on the climbing. Once more everything just fit. At 6100 meters we had placed some equipment. The weeks before we had acclimatized ourselves in the face and we had placed rope, tent, cooker and something to eat up there.
I packed the tent and the cooker in my backpack. The rope I left there, since I had a 6mm reep rope with me, which I took with me from the ABC. I left the sleeping bag because of weight reasons together wit gas and food an existing rope and fixed it at a hook.


The ascent to the headwall was relatively easy. From 6600 meters on I had wind and spindrifts. I climb until below the headwall. Here I wanted to build my tent and wait. I had different possibilities: To wait until the wind got less and I could continue to climb or I would descend the day after.


Since I did not find a protected place I started to descend. 100 meters below I found a crevice. It turned out to be a perfect bivouac place and I could place my tent sheltered from wind and spindrifts. Now I ate and drunk a lot. In the meantime the sun had gone. And everything calmed down. This I noticed also the evening before from ABC. And it was again exactly the same. Fast it darkened and it was calm. This was my chance.


I was sure that the following day the wind would turn on again. So this was my only chance to reach the summit during the night.
The headwall was a line of ice and firn. So it would be possible to the way in the night.


Approx. one hour after I reached the bivouac I continued my climbing. During short passages the ice/firn was quite thin and a couple of times I had to climb in the rock. The steepness was surprisingly not really vertical, only a couple of uplifts were vertical. So it was the ideal solo terrain.
As long as I could climb I was extremely efficient. This I had in my mind all the time. The thin air at 7000 meters is not yet death zone. At this height I could move quite easily. Only the cold was a problem.


A couple of hours before at daylight I wanted to photograph the headwall in order to have an overview picture at night. A was hidden by a spindrift. I could only get grasp my ice gear in order not get knocked out of the wall. In this way I lost one of my down glove and my camera was thrown out of the wall. Now I had to climb with my finger gloves. The down glove which was left I wore once at my left hand and then at my right hand - depending on the cold of each hand.


The headwall presented itself shorter that I thought. Difficult to say how many pitches, since I did not use the rope. Instinctively I was at the upper end quite fast. Here I realized for the first time, where I really was and what this would mean. Now I was just a beat against the wind.


Step by step I moved on. I kept telling me "Just fight, just fight". Again and again. When I reached the summit ridge I could hardly believe it. It was night, the sky full of stars and the ridge going down in front of me.


With my altimeter I checked everything very carefully, I followed the ridge and I knew: I was on highest point.


I spent not even 5 minutes up there before I started to descend. I was still full under tension. My goal was to reach the Bergschrund. Then everything would be fine!


Tenji, Don and Dan meet me at the glacier. They had followed me the entire time while I was climbing. Now they came towards me. Tenji had a Coke, bread and an apple for me.


It is simply great. I made it. Everything is over now. From now the others make the decisions. The tension get less.


On October 10, 2013 at 09.30 am we all are back at base camp.


Ueli Steck