Learn About Annapurna: 10th Highest Mountain in the World

The summit of Annapurna South
Andrew Bain/Getty Images

Annapurna is the 10th highest mountain in the world, one of the fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, and is the 94th most prominent mountain in the world. The mountain is technically named Annapurna I and is the high point of a massif that includes five other major peaks over 23,620 feet (7,200 meters), including 26,040-foot (7,937-meter) Annapurna II, the 16th highest mountain in the world.

Fast Facts: Annapurna

  • Elevation: 26,545 feet (8,091 meters)
  • Prominence: 9,790 feet (2,984 meters). 94th most prominent mountain in the world.
  • Location: Nepal, Asia
  • Coordinates: 28.596111 N /  83.820278 E
  • First Ascent: Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal (France), June 3, 1950
  • Annapurna is the most dangerous 8000-meter peak to climb, with an expedition fatality to successful ascent ratio of 38%.

The First to Summit

Maurice Herzon and Louis Lachenal, the first to summit Annapurna in 1950, were part of a French team that included other great climbers including Gaston Rébuffat and Lionel Terray.​ Herzog and Lachenal both suffered severe frostbite on their feet and Herzog on his hands after losing his gloves. Gangrene set in afterward, forcing the expedition doctor to amputate fingers and toes in the field without anesthetic. Maurice Herzog wrote the book Annapurna about the 1950 expedition, which has sold over 11 million copies, making it the best-selling climbing book of all time.

Subsequent Ascents

In 1970 the South Face of Annapurna was first climbed by Don Whillans and Dougal Haston, part of a British expedition led by Sir Chris Bonington. This was also the third ascent of the mountain. The second ascent went to a British Army expedition on the North Face a few days before the successful South Face ascent.

The 1978 American Women’s Annapurna Expedition, composed only of women, made the first American ascent of the mountain.

Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck made the first ascent of a new route solo up the 8,200-foot-high (2,500-meter) South Face of Annapurna on October 8 and 9, 2013. Steck speed-climbed the route in 28 hours round trip from Advanced Base Camp. Most of the ascent was done during the night when the winds were calm. The direct route between the British and Japanese routes had previously been attempted by Jean-Christophe Lafaille and Pierre Beghin in 1992. Steck had also attempted the route in 2007 and 2008.

More About Annapurna

  • Annapurna is a Sanskrit word that literally means “full of food” but translates to Goddess of the Harvest. Annapurna is a Hindu fertility goddess.
  • Annapurna I is the highest point of a 34-mile-long range, which is east of the Kali Gandaki River’s deep gorge. The gorge, which separates Annapurna from Dhaulagiri I some 20 miles away, is considered the world's deepest canyon.
  • Annapurna was the first 8,000-meter peak climbed and the first to be climbed without supplemental oxygen.
  • The Annapurna trek around the range, called the Annapurna Circuit, is one of the most popular high-altitude treks in Nepal. The Circuit is between 100 and 145 miles long, depending on where you start and finish hiking. The Annapurna massif is protected in the Annapurna Conservation Area, the largest such area in Nepal.

Further Reading

  • Annapurna by Maurice Herzog. The story about the 1950 first ascent of Annapurna by its expedition leader and one of the first summiteers. It's the best-selling climbing book of all time.
  • True Summit by David Roberts. A masterful refutation of Herzog's sanitized and heroic version of events portrayed in Annapurna, including Herzog's virtual erasure of his climbing partner Louis Lachenal.