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Top Expeditions 1970-2020, #7: Annapurna South Face

On 8,000m peaks, the ultimate goal is to reach the summit, so obviously the easier the route, the better. That is, until Chris Bonington and his crew changed the game in 1970. During the first half of the 20th century, achieving first ascents of the world’s highest peaks became a sort of national challenge. The French pioneers who first summited an 8,000’er had actually aimed for Dhaulagiri, but after weeks of searching fruitlessly for a viable route, they discarded the plan and moved to the nearest peak above 8,000m. The result was their historical success on Annapurna. The other 13 Himalayan giants were “conquered” in a similar way, using all the resources available at the time and the safest possible routes.   Then came a new generation of climbers, trained on vertical rock, motivated by difficulty rather than altitude, who…

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