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  Himalayan Triptych Reactivated – mBank Annapurna going for it ...

Yesterday (26th April) the team reached 6700 metres without fixing any more ropes. "We've got about 185 metres of rope left, perhaps it will be enough," they wrote in a short text message. Today the climbers are resting but tomorrow they will continue their way towards the summit. They're slowly approaching the altitude above which every step and every additional weight requires considerable effort. Still ahead of them is the long ridge and 1400-metre ascent.

Earlier: Piotr Pustelnik and Darek Zaluski reached C1 yesterday (24th April), having crossed the glacier in exhausting conditions - high temperature and melting snow made their way far from enjoyable. Piotr Morawski and Peter Hamor spent the day according to plan, i.e. fixing ropes beyond C1. They got to approximately 6100 metres which is about 100 metres below the ridge. Today the whole team is supposed to be climbing together. They're all feeling fine and the weather is fairly good

Earlier: Good morning, it's Piotr Pustelnik - mBank Annapurna Expedition - warm welcome to everyone from the Annapurna Base Camp.

In my last dispatch from Kathmandu I was confidently talking about our plans of getting a helicopter that would take us from Pokhara to the Base Camp but it turned out to be much more difficult than we had expected. Namely, because of the elections, all the helicopters appear to be busy flying around the country and collecting ballot papers and the government officials guarding them.

As a result we spent two days stuck in Pokhara, at the altitude of mere 500 metres and with temperatures reaching 40 centigrades - wasting our acclimatization as well as nerves... Our agency was doing all they could to find us a helicopter and finally this morning (15th April) a Russian pilot transported us to the Base Camp. Well, in fact it's not exactly where we wanted to land as we were hoping to be set down further up the valley but the pilot was a bit worried about flying into the valley itself and left us at the entrance to it, approximately four hours away. Still, it's far better than waiting in Pokhara any longer.

Otherwise everything is fine, we're all feeling well even though the altitude (around 4100 metres) did get to us after almost a week away from the mountains. The weather is fairly normal for the Himalayas: clear and sunny till about noon, then the rain comes. It looks as if there was going to be a storm today - it rained heavily in Pokhara yesterday. Let us hope that the weather stays kind to us.

The plan for tomorrow is to go into the valley to see how far it is to the actual face of the mountain, what the conditions are like and so on. We did get a glimpse of the conditions today from the helicopter and things look similar to what they were like on Ama Dablam - fairly little snow, some ice and generally less steep, which should make it easier for us.

So, from tomorrow we are beginning to act in earnest! We will be getting in touch every few days to let you know how we're doing. And now we're off for a chat with our next-door neighbours, a two-person expedition!

From the Base Camp, Piotr Pustelnik, mBank Annapurna Expedition. Talk to you soon!"


Earlier: "Good morning, Piotr Pustelnik, mBank Annapurna Expedition.

Our break in Kathmandu is coming to an end and our plan is as follows: tomorrow (12th April) we will fly on a scheduled flight to Pokhara, the second biggest city in Nepal. Then on Sunday (13th April), assuming the weather is good enough, we will fly by helicopter to the Annapurna North-West Face Base Camp. So, if everything goes according to plan, the day after tomorrow we should already be at the altittude of 4100 - 4200 metres.

Our team is fully relaxed and well-rested, the acclimatisation stage went well, so generally everything has been fine so far. Today we only need to finish off packing, check our equipment, replace whatever is missing - just the usual logistics.

The spring in Kathmandu is in full swing - it's very hot, around 40 centigrades, slightly cloudy but no rain on the horizon. Everyone here was rather worried about yesterday (the elections) and about "the day after" but it all has passed peacefully. The city is fully alive again and there has been no rioting in the streets, no protests etc.

Anyway, we're off then on this main and most exciting part of the expedition, i.e. the first ever attempt to repeat - after 20 years - the Czech+Slovak route on the North-West face of Annapurna. I hope this forth time will be lucky for us and we will get to the summit. For Peter Hamor though, it will be second ascent of Annapurna so he may become one of the very few people in the world who achieved that.

Warm greeting to everyone, Piotr Pustelnik, mBank Annapurna Expedition. Goodbye!"

Earlier: "Good Morning, it's Piotr Pustelnik - mBank Annapurna Expedition - speaking from Kathmandu.

Today (10th April) is a landmark moment for modern Nepal - the day of elections for a Constituent Assembly that will decide about the future of this country, one of the poorest in the world.

Kathmandu looks very different today from what it's usually like: it's almost like a ghost town. I've taken a few unique photos in Thamel and the city centre - unique because the place is virtually empty. There are few people walking around, mainly tourists, and there are hardly any cars except those belonging to foreigners or the Red Cross. It's quite clear that the nation is focused on the polls and ultimately on their decision about the shape of this country that for over a decade was torn by an internal conflict and fighting between the Maoists and the government forces.

The atmosphere in the city today isn't tense but rather sober. In a way, it's only elections day and nobody really knows what will follow in the coming days and months, whether the political parties will accept the results or whether they will be more rioting and political squabbling - all this is just one big question mark. The results of today's polls are expected over the next ten days and there are bound to have a tremendous impact on the country's future.

It's a nice day for the tourists though as there're hardly any cars that normally cause a lot of air pollution and it's comperatively quiet. It reminds me of Poland on Corpus Christi day!  I'm emotionally very attached to this country as I've spent almost three years of my life here and that's why I wanted to talk about this day. It's not often that the history takes place before your very eyes...

From a very peaceful Kathmandu, Piotr Pustelnik, so long!"

Earlier: "Good Morning, it's Piotr Pustelnik - mBank Annapurna Expedition - warm welcome to everyone. We got to Camp I from the Base Camp yesterday (30th March) over that dreadfully long way again and today all four of us climbed up to Camp II. Tomorrow Piotr and Peter will stay in Camp II and take a look at the route to Camp III while Darek and myself will bring up more provisions (a tent, some ropes, food and fuel) to make this camp well-supplied.

Hopefully, unless the weather fails completely, we should reach the top of Ama Dablam in three days. The weather pattern has been quite simple so far: relatively fair till about 1 pm and then it clouds over and snows a little. But it's rather normal and we can't complain about the weather, just the opposite. It's fairly dry and the mountain is very different from what it's like in the autumn. There isn't any snow and it's quite difficult to find where the camps should be, we're also having problems finding ice to melt and so on.

We are all feeling fine: no broken or bruised limbs. I reckon it's going to be a good acclimatization for us before Annapurna - I must say that our thoughts are increasingly drawn towards Annapurna, our main aim. Still, Ama Dablam is a fine and ambitious mountain.

From Ama Dablam, Piotr Pustelnik, mBank Annapurna Expedition. So long!"

Update Four: Good evening, Piotr Pustelnik from the Ama Dablam Base Camp.

As I said in my last dispatch, we left for Camp One yesterday (26 March) and it was a very long climb indeed. Today, all four of us spent the day setting up fixed ropes and we got as far as Camp Two, where we pitched a tent. The route isn't particularly long but it's technically quite difficult, kind of alpine-style climbing, very enjoyable though! The weather is relatively fine, despite strong wind.

We got rather tired today and run out of rope near Camp Two so we have to go down to the Base Camp for more, we may also have a day rest. Still, we reckon we should be able to set up Camp Three in two days

We're all feeling fine, very well in fact. Very warm greetings to everyone; from Camp One, Piotr Pustelnik, so long!

Update Three: Hello! It's Piotr Pustelnik - mBank Annapurna Expedition - warm welcome to everyone from the Base Camp of Ama Dablam, our high-altitude training mountain, which we reached yesterday.

Well, it took us a bit longer than expected as we spent one extra day in Kathmandu waiting for a flight to Lukla and we also had a rest day in Namche Bazaar. Still, we're all here now, getting ready - we've got today to sort out our loads and tomorrow the whole expedition is off to Camp One. Looking at the rocky hills on the way there, it does look like an awfully long way (...) and it does give me shivers to think about our trek there with our heavy rucksacks but... Well, everybody manages somehow so we'll manage as well!

We're still in high spirits and no stomach bugs so far, so it's OK. The
weather is so-so, i.e. it usually starts nice in the morning but the
afternoon brings more fog and it snows lightly in the evenings. The
usual spring "norm" in a sense. It's quite chilly for this type of a
warm valley though, and the winds get pretty strong at times... Still,
it's not a problem really!

Belated Happy Easter to everyone! We spent Easter in Namche Bazaar and had Easter Sunday breakfast with a group of Polish trekkers, which was very nice.

We're are on our own here in the Base Camp, which is slightly unusual for such a popular route and yet we got used to the fact that we have those camps very much to ourselves...

Anyway, we're off tomorrow so keep your fingers crossed! The conditions are quite good, not too much snow above all and quite a lot of ice so I think that everything should go well tomorrow and we'll get to Camp Two relatively fast as well. We may need to fix some ropes if the terrain requires it but we'll see.

Well, once again warm greeting to everyone from the Ama Dablam Base Camp from Piotr Pustelnik, Annapurna mbank Expedition. Will be in touch soon again!

Update Two: The expedition team flew to Lukla yesterday (20th March) and after a two-hour trek got to Phakding (at 2610 meters), a large settlement half way between the airstrip in Lukla and Namche Bazaar. Most trekkers choose to stay in Phakding overnight before the long and exhausting climb to the administrative centre for the Khumbu region the next day. The team are in high spirits and are enjoying fair weather.

Update One: mBank Annapurna West: According to the information received via a text message, the team landed in Kathmandu yesterday (Monday), though after a series of mishaps. The journey started with a flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, which, according to Piotr Pustelnik, hasn’t changed much since his visit there is 1989:


 “Himalayan Triptych” Reactivated – part one: mBank Annapurna West Face Expedition.

"Himalayan Triptych Reactivated" has begun! After one-day delay caused by the airline, the team has left Warsaw airport this morning to start the first part of their expedition, i.e. the attempt at first ever repeat of the Czech route on the north-west face of Annapurna - the tenth highest peak in the world (8091 metres above the sea level).

The aim of the expedition is to repeat for the first time the Czech route on the north-west face of Annapurna – the tenth highest peak of the world (8091 metres above sea level). For Piotr Pustelnik it will also be the chance to finish the Crown of the Himalayas – the fourteen highest mountains in the world rising above 8000 metres. Piotr has already ascended thirteen of the Crown of the Himalayas peaks and Annapurna is the only one remaining. So far only thirteen people have managed to capture all fourteen jewels in the Crown…

Despite being one of the lowest eight-thousanders, Annapurna is definitely one of the most dangerous mountains in the world. By the year 2005, only 103 people have reached its summit while 56 have died attempting it. The Annapurna’s extensive massive consists of six main summits: the main one (8091m) as well as five others rising over 7000m. Interestingly, it was the first eight-thousander ever climbed – Maurice Herzog and Louise Lachenal have conquered it on 3rd June 1950. Eight Polish mountaineers have repeated this feat so far:

1987 – Artur Hajzer & Jerzy Kukuczka (first winter ascent)

1991 – Bogdan Stefko, Krzysztof Wielicki, Wanda Rutkiewicz, Ryszard Pawlowski and Mariusz Sprutta

1996 – Andrzej Marciniak

The mBank Expeditions have already tried to reach the summit three times, including twice (in 2004 and 2005) along the Bonnington’s route on the south face. In 2006, the “Himalayan Triptych” made up of Piotr Pustelnik, Piotr Morawski (Poland), Peter Hamor (Slovakia) and Don Bowie (USA) focused their efforts on the eastern ridge of Annapurna that had been climbed merely twice before. However, Peter Hamor was the only one to reach the main summit on 21st May while Piotr Pustelnik and Piotr Morawski got as far as the eastern summit (8010m). They turned back to rescue a Tibetan climber afflicted by snow blindness.

This year Piotr Pustelnik decided to return to Annapurna with a tried-and-tested team consisting of himself as the main coordinator, Peter Hamor, Piotr Morawski and Dariusz Zaluski, who will have the double role of a film maker. They have chosen the Czech route (also called “Gabbarrova”) on the north-west face of Annapurna. It has been climbed only once by Nezerka and Martis in 1988.

Ama Dablam - a relatively easy to climb mountain in the Himalaya range of eastern Nepal (6812 metres) – is to be the place for the team’s high altitude acclimatisation before their main effort. The expedition sets off on 15th March from Warsaw and will stay acclimatising on Ama Dablam till mid April. They will then be transported with a helicopter to their base camp beneath the north face of Annapurna. Their return is planned for 7th May.

Piotr Pustelnik has been climbing in the highest mountains since 1985, ascended all but one eight-thousand-metre high peak and has participated in many expeditions in the Himalayas, Karakorum, and all over the world.

Peter Hamor, the best Slovakian mountaineer has ascended five eight-thousanders (two of them as the first ever Slovak), and has conquered the Crown of the World (the highest mountains of each of the seven continents).

Piotr Morawski has climbed four eight-thousanders and was the first to ascend Shisha Pangma in winter.

Dariusz Zaluski has climbed four eight-thousanders and has taken part in many winter expeditions; he combines climbing with professional film-making and has authored many award-winning documentaries about the highest mountains of the world.



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