POV: Dangling on the Edge of the Himalayas

This footage from David Lama’s Annapurna III SE route attempt will leave you dizzy and wanting more.
By Corinna Halloran

David Lama is well known for pushing the limits and offering the world insane POV views of his alpine ascents. But his climb with Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel last spring might just take the cake. The trio attempted the southeast ridge of Nepal's Annapurna III. And this crazy helmet-cam footage follows the team up the dizzying and baffling route.

Exploratory alpinism is by no means an easy task, but — according to Alpinist magazine's Unclimbed "to do" list — this route remains as one of the greatest unsolved puzzles of the Himalayas. In this latest attempt, not only did Lama, Auer and Blümel suffer an all-out onslaught from the weather, but they also faced lots of loose snow and some really demanding climbing. Not to mention very little opportunity to rest.

Hansjörg Auer, Alex Blümel and David Lama take a moment as they climb the SE route of Annapurna III
Hansjörg Auer, Alex Blümel and David Lama climb © David Lama/Red Bull Content Pool

It took the Austrian team three days to climb to the spot that British climbers Nick Colten and Tim Leach reached when they first attempted the line in 1981. Although, the first day was the only one with ideal conditions. The remaining two days literally sucked everything out of the experienced alpinists.

"On almost all pitches, difficult mixed climbing forced us to hang our ice tools onto our harness and resort to direct aid," Lama said. "Due to the cold, the wind and the strong snowfall, we climbed in full winter outfits. In an uncomfortably tight chimney, I inched a few feet up. I couldn’t move any further — I lost grip with my crampons and slid a few feet back down."

Imagine sliding down a rock face with zero tolerance for error?

Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel climb one of the Himalayas unsolved puzzles: Annapurna III
POV shot from the insane Annapurna III attempt © David Lama/Red Bull Content Pool

"It was on the second day of the climb that we experienced how demanding this route is," Auer said. "The conditions for climbing were horrible; it started snowing with heavy winds before noon and the same scenario repeated itself on the third day. Finding spots to bivi was also really challenging."

In the end, the route remained unconquered as the weather window closed and the team was forced to turn around. But keep your ears to the ground as the team is aiming to attempt this line again in 2017.

"It’s the aesthetic appeal of the line along with its difficulty and the high altitudes that drives us," Blümel explained.

This awesome POV trailer is part of a 12-minute documentary, "Annapurna III — Unclimbed." The film premiered at the Banff Mountain Festival earlier month and is now making the festival rounds.

David Lama
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