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Ueli Steck and the first ascent of the direct line up the South Face of Annapurna.
Photo by ©PatitucciPhoto

Annapurna south face, Yannick Graziani and Stephane Benoist’s reported ascent


Last Thursday 24 October the French guides Yannick Graziani and Stephane Benoist are reported to have climbed the south face of Annapurna, repeating the route climbed by Ueli Steck on 9 October. This news, reported on many specialised web sites, has not been confirmed, nor is it known whether Graziani and Benoist have returned to Base Camp.

Confused news from the Himalayas and of Annapurna is being relayed on the internet, and up to now there is no direct confirmation. Only a fortnight after Ueli Steck’s magnificent solo of the beautiful but terrible S Face, on Thursday 24 October the two French guides Yannick Graziani and Stephane Benoist are reported to have made the first repeat of this route, first started by Jean-Christophe Lafaille and Pierre Beghin in 1992 and then finished by Steck on the 9 October in 28 hours of climbing including the descent. The two very strong French alpinists are reported to have climbed alpine style (in 5 or 8 days in total according to the different internet reports). At the time of writing, though, there has been no direct confirmation nor, after the arrival at the summit on Thursday, is it known if the climbers have returned to Base Camp.

The website www.explorersweb.com first broke the news on Thursday, with a report by correspondent Raheel Adnan on his blog AltitudePakistan. The lack of confirmation and news of a return to Base Camp was underlined yesterday by the French site www.kairn.com and newspaper Le Dauphiné Libéré as they relayed the news. The Dauphiné Libéré suggested that the pair set off to climb a new route and then decided to follow Steck’s line. We are currently awaiting the return to Base Camp of Graziani and Benoist, not just to have confirmation of the ascent..

According to explorersweb.com, Graziani and Benoist set off from Base Camp on the 17 October to reach the summit on the morning of 24th, encountering difficult conditions on the face (unlike Steck, who reported perfect conditions). It should be remembered that the pair attempted the same line in 2010 but gave up at 6800 m due to bad weather. Graziani and Benoist are certainly among France’s and the world’s top Alpine and Himalayan climbers.

Yannick Graziani (Alpine Guide, Chamonix) - among his most important climbs the first ascent of Chomolonzo in 2005 (nominated for the Piolet d'Or), Pumari Chhish (7350m) in 2007, and the S face of Nemjung (7140 m) in 2009, Makalu SE crest in 2004.

Stephane Benoist (Alpine Guide from Nice) - among his most important climbs the N face of Thalay Sagar (6904 m) for which he was nominated for the Piolet d'Or 2003. In 2008 the new route on the S face of Nuptse for his second Piolet d'Or nomination.





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