The Maurice Herzog Expedition stands out from all the other expeditions in Nepal as it was this expedition party that conquered Annapurna for the very first time. Many climbers from all over the world had come to Annapurna by the year 1950 but none had been successful in summating the mountain. That was until Maurice Herzog.
On 3 June 1950, Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, achieved what no other climber before them could. They made the summit of Annapurna, a climb that was well over 8,000 meters. But strangely enough, their great accomplishment lay in the shadow of their disappointment. The French Expedition that was led by Maurice Herzog came to Nepal to conquer the Dhaulagiri mountain. But after weeks of trying to work their way to the summit, one of the expedition members, Lionel Terray, deemed the looming mountain to be “unclimbable” and that it is a summit that will never be reached. Even though a Swiss Expedition would prove him wrong in 1960, the French Expedition went on to write their names in history by being the first men to summit Annapurna.
Even today, many climbers are unable to summit Annapurna as she is a force to be reckoned with and any mountaineer will tell you that. Many expeditions in Nepal, where Annapurna is involved, have led to sorrow and disappointment due to the challenging terrain and destructive avalanches. The Maurice Herzog Expedition were successful but still faced many battles and struggles along the way and all these are relived through the words of Maurice Herzog who released his book “Annapurna”, in 1952, detailing the expedition. The book takes readers back to the days leading up to the summit and highlights how difficult their task was; as there was no route to the summit they created the first route to the summit.
“Annapurna”, by Maurice Herzog is a compelling tale of bravery, heroism, determination and courage. One would think that after battling a route to the summit, surviving the elements and working through disheartening periods, that reaching the summit of Annapurna would be the end of their troubles. But it was the descent that proved to test their endurance and will to survive. The French Expedition was forced to live though an avalanche, endure the pain of frostbite and many more troubles while trying to make their way home. As with many expeditions in Nepal when man tries to challenge nature and one of the majestic mountains they pay a price - some just higher then others.