Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Annapurna South Face | French climbers evacuated from Annapurna BC, Stephane suffered frostbite

“The pair came down the south face. Stephane suffered frostbite and two climbers were evacuated from the moraine to the hospital in Kathmandu.”

The big news came in from Annapurna last Thursday, where two French alpinists, Yannick Graziani and Stephane Benoist, reached the top via South Face. Unlike the rapid excursion of Ueli Steck, a couple of weeks ago - the French climb took place in almost one week. Having left the ABC on 17th, the climbers reached the summit on October 24th. Surviving such an extended period of time on one of the most perilous walls in the world is a big feat in itself. At the time of publication of my previous article, no news was available about the descent of the climbers.

Acclimatizing during 2010 Annapurna expedition. Source

The situation remained a bit vague until a while ago, when Nicolas Feraud, a fellow guide of French climbers, confirmed that the two climbers are back in Kathmandu. Although precise details of descent are not available as of now, it appears that coming down the face wasn’t easy. It’s reported that Stephane suffered frostbite and has been evacuated to Kathmandu, along with Yannick. The two climbers are currently receiving medication at a hospital in Kathmandu. From the message, it can be assumed that the situation of Stephane is not too serious.

Their return to France is expected in a few days. 

Returning from 2010 Annapurna Expediton; Source

Yannick Graziani is a mountain guide from Chamonix, Haute-Savoie, France, who has previously opened new routes on several 7000m peaks. He made first ascent of Chomolonzo north (7200m) and central (7550m) in 2005, Pumari Chhish (7350m) in 2007, and Nemjung south face (7140m) in 2009. In 2004, he ascended Makalu via SE ridge. Christian Trommsdorff has been his climbing partner on majority of Himalayan climbs.

Yannick and Stephane at Annapurna BC in 2010; Source

A professional guide since 1998, Stephane Benoist has been ice and rock climbing since early 90s. He has extensively guided expeditions in Alps and to South America, along with climbing in Himalayas and Karakoram. His Thalay Sagar (6904m) north face climb got him first Piolets d’Or nomination in 2003. He was also a part of Chomolonzo north (7200m) first ascent in 2005. His new route on south face of Nuptse in 2008 was again nominated for Piolets d’Or.

List of Annapurna South Face new route ascents can be accessed here

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