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  Piotr Pustelnik Himalayan Triptych” Reactivated – mBank Annapurna West Face Expedition Update

"Hello from Lukla from Piotr Pustelnik mBank Annapurna
Expedition! We got here just a few minutes ago and perhaps tomorrow (9th April) we will fly back to Kathmandu for a short break and then off to Annapurna.

Well, I'd like to sum up in a few sentences our acclimatization
on Ama Dablam. First of all, I'd heard a lot about Ama Dablam
before this expedition but those stories were mainly about climbing
in the autumn season. In the spring Ama Dablam looks completely
different, there's hardly any snow, and whatever snow there is,
is frozen solid. (...) What surprised me as well was how brittle
the rocks were: I fell off a couple of times when the stones simply
slipped away from under my feet. And then at some point during the
final descent my heart sank when I dislodged a big boulder that
quietly tumbled down the mountain...

Secondly, the mountain is technically very challenging and, in some
places on the ridge, even fixed ropes wouldn't help if one
were to make a mistake of some sort. Hence I'm rather surprised
that there're so few accidents there. Still, the climbing was
great and we had very good time but I'm rather astonished that
many commercial trekking companies offer Ama Dablam to potential
clients as it's not an easy mountain.

Anyway, we're going back to Kathmandu now though the timing is
slightly unfortunate because of the Nepalese elections. On the
other hand, if we get there before the elections we may
involuntarily witness this historical moment for Nepal which may
decide its future.

Still, our thoughts are on Annapurna now and I'd hope that the
conditions there are better even though the reports from Dhaulagiri
talk about substantial snow in the Kali Gandaki Valley and above.
Hopefully it won't stop us from climbing Annapurna but
we'll see.

Thanks everyone for keeping your fingers crossed for us, we're
all feeling fine, but carry on crossing your fingers as the main
part of our project is still to come! Warm greetings to everyone
and till the next dispatch! Piotr Pustelnik in Lukla, mBank
Annapurna Expedition"

The acclimatization stage of the mBank Annapurna West Face Expedition (Himalayan Tryptych Reactivated) has been completed. All members of the team reached the summit of Ama Dablam (6812 metres above the sea level). Piotr Morawski and Peter Hamor summitted on the 3rd of April, while Piotr Pustelnik and Darek Zaluski reached the summit the following day (4th April). Currently, the expedition is on its way towards their main aim, i.e. Annapurna.

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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