Annapurna Conservation Area
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Annapurna (Sanskrit, Nepali, Nepal Bhasa: अन्नपूर्णा) is a series of peaks in the Himalayas, a 55 km (34 mi)-long massif of which the highest point, Annapurna I, stands at 8091m, making it the 10th-highest summit in the world and one of the 14 "eight-thousanders". It is located east of a great gorge cut through the Himalaya Mountains by the Kali Gandaki River, which separates it from the Dhaulagiri massif. (Dhaulagiri I lies 34 km west of Annapurna I.)
Annapurna is a Sanskrit name which literally means "full of food" (feminine form), but is normally translated as Goddess of the Harvests. In Hinduism, Annapurna is a Goddess of fertility and agriculture and an avatar of Durga.
The entire massif and surrounding area are protected within the 7,629 km2Annapurna Conservation Area, the first and largest conservation area in Nepal, established in 1986 by the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation. The Annapurna Conservation Area is home to several world-class treks, including the Annapurna Circuit.
The Annapurna peaks are the world's most dangerous mountains to climb, with a fatality to summit ratio of more than 40%.
The Annapurna massif contains six major peaks over 7,200 m:
Annapurna I was the first 8,000-metre (26,200 ft) peak to be climbed. Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, of a French expedition led by Maurice Herzog (including Lionel Terray, Gaston Rébuffat, Marcel Ichac, Jean Couzy, Marcel Schatz, Jacques Oudot, Francis de Noyelle), reached the summit on 3 June 1950. (See the documentary of the expedition "Victoire sur l'Annapurna" by Marcel Ichac). Its summit was the highest summit attained on Earth for three years, until the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. (However, higher non-summit points—at least 8,500 metres (27,900 ft)—had already been attained on Everest in the 1920s.)
The south face of Annapurna was first climbed in 1970 by Don Whillans and Dougal Haston, members of a British expedition led by Chris Bonington which included the alpinist Ian Clough, who was killed by a falling serac during the descent. They were, however, beaten to the second ascent of Annapurna by a matter of days by a British Army expedition led by Henry Day.
In 1978, The American Women's Himalayan Expedition, a team led by Arlene Blum, became the first American team to climb Annapurna I. The first summit team, comprising Vera Komarkova and Irene Miller and Sherpas Mingma Tsering and Chewang Ringjing, reached the top at 3:30 p.m. on October 15, 1978. The second summit team, Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz and Vera Watson, died during this climb. (Vera Watson was survived by her husband, the computer scientist John McCarthy.)
On 3 February 1987, Polish climbers Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer made the first winter ascent of Annapurna I.
On April 29, 1995, Carlos Carsolio summited becoming the first Mexican to do so. It was his tenth eight-thousander.
Annapurna I holds the highest fatality rate among all 14 eight-thousanders. As of 2005, there have been only 103 successful summit attempts, and 56 lives have been lost on the mountain, many to the avalanches for which it is known. Climbers killed on the peak include famed Russian climber Anatoli Boukreev in 1997, Christian Kuntner in 2005 and Iñaki Ochoa in 2008.
The first solo climb was October 2007 on the South Face by Slovenian climber Tomaž Humar.
On April 27, 2010, Oh Eun-Sun, a South Korean climber, may have become the first woman to ascend the world's 14 highest mountains by climbing the Annapurna with no oxygen. However, her claim to have climbed all 14 is currently treated as disputed by influential record keeper Elizabeth Hawley pending further investigation.
Annapurna II, the eastern anchor of the range, was first climbed in 1960 by a British/Indian/Nepalese team led by Jimmy Roberts, via the West Ridge, approached from the north. The summit party comprised Richard Grant, Chris Bonington, and Sherpa Ang Nyima. In terms of elevation, isolation (distance to a higher summit, namely Annapurna I, 30.5 km/19.0 mi) and prominence (2,437 m/7,995 ft), Annapurna II does not rank far behind Annapurna I. It is a fully independent peak, despite the close association with Annapurna I which its name seems to imply.
Annapurna III was first climbed in 1961 by an Indian expedition led by Capt. Mohan Singh Kohli, via the Northeast Face. The summit party comprised Mohan Kohli, Sonam Gyatso, and Sonam Girmi.
Annapurna IV, near Annapurna II, was first climbed in 1955 by a German expedition led by Heinz Steinmetz, via the North Face and Northwest Ridge. The summit party comprised Steinmetz, Harald Biller, and Jürgen Wellenkamp.
Gangapurna was first climbed in 1965 by a German expedition led by Günther Hauser, via the East Ridge. The summit party comprised 11 members of the expedition.
Annapurna South (also known as Annapurna Dakshin, or Moditse) was first climbed in 1964 by a Japanese expedition, via the North Ridge. The summit party comprised S. Uyeo and Mingma Tsering.
Hiunchuli (6,441 m/21,126 ft) is a satellite peak extending east from Annapurna South, Hiunchuli was first climbed in 1971 by an expedition led by U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Craig Anderson.
Machapuchare (6,993 m/22,943 ft) is another important peak of the Annapurna Himal, though it just misses the 7,000 metre mark. Machapuchare and Hiunchuli are prominently visible from the valley of Pokhara. These peaks are the "gates" to the Annapurna Sanctuary leading to the immense south face of Annapurna I.
The Annapurna Conservation Area is a well known trekking region.
There are three major trekking routes in the Annapurna region: the Jomson Trek to Jomsom and Muktinath (increasingly disturbed by a road-building project); the Annapurna Sanctuary route to Annapurna base camp; and the Annapurna Circuit, which circles the Annapurna Himal itself and includes the Jomsom route. The town of Pokhara usually serves as a starting point for these treks, and is also a good starting place for other short treks of one to four days, such as routes to Ghorepani or Ghandruk.
The Mustang district, a former kingdom bordering Tibet, is also geographically a part of the Annapurna region, but treks to upper Mustang are subject to special restrictions.
About two-thirds of all trekkers in Nepal visit the Annapurna region. The area is easily accessible, guesthouses in the hills are plentiful, and treks here offer incredibly diverse scenery, with both high mountains and lowland villages. Also, because the entire area is inhabited, trekking in the region offers unique cultural exposure and experience.
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