Christian Kuntner dies after being hit by an avalanche on Annapurna. Mario Panzeri, Mario Merelli, Daniele Bernasconi, Ed Viesturs from America and Veikka Gustafsson all reach the summit of Annapurna, while Romano Benet, Nives Meroi and Luca Vuerich have abandoned hopes of reaching the summit of Dhaulagiri.
Terrible news, from the Himalaya: Christian Kuntner from Italy has died on Annapurna after being hit by an avalanche. Kuntner was climbing up from Camp 2 together with Abele Blanc when he was hit by falling seracs at circa 07.15 on 18/05/05. The duo were following team mates Mondinelli, Gobbi, Camandona, Andrew Lock and two mountaineers from Colorado, who had miraculously escaped the tragedy. These climbers immediately descended to their rescue, but Kuntner died of inner hemorrhages in Camp 2.
Christian Kuntner had climbed 13 8000m peaks without supplementary oxygen, his latest achievement being Lhotse on 15 May 2004. Annapurna should have been completion of the highest mountains in the world. Christian Kuntner was a silent, tenacious and extremely strong mountaineer. When asked about his 8000m peaks, he preferred talking about his other adventures: the Silk road by mountain bike and the long mountain bike traverse from Alaska to Patagonia's Terra del Fuoco.
Kuntner's death overshadows the successful summits of the Italians Mario Panzeri, Mario Merelli, Daniele Bernasconi, Ed Viesturs from America and Veikka Gustafsson from Finland on 12/05/05. For Viesturs, Annapurna is the culmination of 16 year quest, for in reaching the summit he becomes the first American to climb all 14 8000m peaks, all without the use of supplementary oxygen.
On nearby Dhaulagiri Romano Benet, Nives Meroi and Luca Vuerich have abandoned hopes of reaching the summit this year. Desperate weather conditions forced the Italian trio to turn back after reaching 7700m: the large snow field beneath the summit was simply too dangerous to cross. The trio had leaft Base Camp together with Inaki Ochoa from Spain, Ivan Vallejo from Equador and Christian Stangl from Austria on 17/05/05. After climbing through a snowstorm they reached Camp 2 at 7300m, where they spent the night. Ochoa and Vallejo had descended back to Base Camp, while Stangl spent one night at Camp 1 before descending. Benet, Nives Meroi and Vuerich had wanted to try everything possible, but faced by the inevitable they too made the right choice... All are now safely in Base Camp.
Annapurna (Photo Loris Marin).