Ueli Steck and Don Bowie on their current expedition to Annapurna in Nepal. But it appears that the Swiss Machine has found success during the fall season after missing out on the summit two previous attempts. Details remain light at the moment but it appears that Ueli made a solo summit of the South Face of the mountain yesterday in what sounds like a remarkable climb.
News of this successful summit comes our way courtesy of Planet Mountain. Apparently Steck sent a brief text message yesterday proclaiming his victory on Annapurna. That message simply said: "Summit, alone, South Face." Planet Mountain is also reporting that Ueli hs already back in Base Camp after what must have been an amazing effort.
We'll have to wait for the full story once Ueli and Don have a better Internet connection as I am sure there is much to tell. Climbing Annapurna is never an easy feat and it is widely considered to be one of the toughest mountains in the world to summit. It also has the highest death-to-summit rate of any of the 8000-meter peaks. A solo summit on this mountain is an impressive accomplishment for sure.
At some point I'll probably stop being so surprised and amazed at Steck's accomplishments, but I'm not really sure when that will happen. For my money, he is the best high-altitute alpinist in the world today and he continues to change our perceptions of what can be accomplished in the mountains. I'm so glad to see that he's back in the Himalaya and doing what he does best. Considering the events that took place this past spring on Everest, I wasn't sure if he'd ever go back to Nepal.
We'll have to wait to see if he and Don will attempt another summit together or if they'll now wrap up the expedition. Their climbing permit is good through November 15, so there is a chance that they'll stay on the mountain for more climbing. On the other hand, most mountaineers will tell you not to push your luck on Annapurna, so they may move on.
Congratulations to Ueli on a job well done!