Summit day on Annapurna I. About 20 climbers from three commercial teams reached the summit of the tenth highest mountain on earth at 8,091 meters today, according to the Internet portal ExplorersWeb: about half Climbing Sherpas, the other half paying clients. In the latter group was also the Austrian Hans Wenzl, who thus scaled his tenth eight-thousander.
This is particularly remarkable for two reasons. First, Hans is not a professional mountaineer – nor is he a zillionaire: The 51-year-old earns his money as a foreman for an Austrian construction company, and takes time off for his expeditions. Wenzl lives in Metnitz, a town with 2,500 inhabitants in northern Carinthia, and has two grown-up sons with his wife Sonja.
On the other hand, he climbed his first nine eight-thousanders before Annapurna all without bottled oxygen. And I have no reason to believe that this time was any different.
Always without breathing mask
“If, then again without supplemental oxygen,” Hans had answered me in 2019 after his summit success on K2 in Pakistan when asked if he was already thinking about his tenth eight-thousander. And this is his eight-thousander list: Broad Peak (in 2007), Nanga Parbat (in 2009), Gasherbrum I and II (in 2011), Manaslu (in 2012), Cho Oyu (in 2013), Makalu (in 2016), Mount Everest (in 2017), K2 (in 2019), and now Annapurna I. He also reached the 8,008-meter-high Central Peak of Shishapangma in 2005, which is 19 meters lower than the main peak.
Tseng allegedly also without a breathing mask
According to the Nepalese operator Dolma Outdoor Expedition, Taiwanese Grace Tseng also reached the summit of Annapurna today without bottled oxygen, accompanied by Sherpas Nima Gyalzen and Ningma Dorje. It was Tseng’s sixth eight-thousander, the first without a breathing mask – should this be confirmed. Last winter, the 29-year-old had wanted to be guided up K2 by a team of seven supporters, as the only client – “fully supported” winter climbing was what I had called the style. However, bad weather had prevented a summit attempt.
Mingma’s team on Kangchenjunga back at base camp
This was now also the case for the first push towards the summit of Kangchenjunga this spring. The team of Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the operator Imagine Nepal, according to their own information, reached an altitude of 8,450 meters before they had to turn back due to bad weather. The summit of the third highest mountain on earth is at 8,586 meters. “Now they are back at base camp. They will rest for a few days and then plan the next summit push,” Dawa Futi Sherpa, manager of Imagine Nepal, writes to me.
Update 29 April: According to the operator Seven Summit Treks, Hans Wenzl was not only climbing without bottled oxygen, but also without Sherpa support (although it should not be concealed that the Sherpas fixed the ropes). The same – no breathing mask, no Sherpa support – had also applied to the Italian Giampaolo Corona and the Swede Tim Bogdanov, informed SST. There was temporary concern about Corona because contact with him had broken off during the descent. Today he was spotted at an altitude of about 7,400 meters. Giampaolo let it be known that he did not need help and could descend independently.