A fearless explorer has returned home to Chichester after becoming the youngest Briton ever to climb Annapurna Massif — the ‘most deadly’ mountain in the world.
Less than one year after summiting at Mount Everest, 'born and bred' Chichester man Rupert Jones-Warner, 27, was asked by his friend and fellow explorer Nirmal Purja MBE (Nims Dai), a former Gurkha and Special Forces soldier, to attempt Annapurna in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal
Having left England to begin his latest expedition on March 21, Rupert, who serves in the military, returned home on May 2 after successfully reaching Annapurna's summit on April 23.
Rupert said: “It ended up being a very successful expedition despite what the odds were.
“Nims invited me up to Annapurna to climb with him. Annapurna is the tenth highest mountain but also one of the most coveted.
“For every 25 [people] that summit Everest, one will summit Annapurna as it is considered the most dangerous mountain on the planet due to its statistics - 37 per cent death rate.”
Rupert said Annapurna is difficult to climb due to its ‘unpredictable conditions, very difficult terrain and constant, very real avalanche threat’.
“There have only been three successful British expeditions on Annapurna since the mountain was first climbed in 1950,” he said.
“These include Henry Day in the Bonington Expedition in 1970, Alan Hinkes in 2002 and then me and Nims in 2019. Many have been unsuccessful.
“It’s pretty terrifying and I certainly wouldn’t have gone and climbed it if I hadn’t been asked. I ended up finding myself out there a month or two later. On March 28, I arrived at Annapurna basecamp, expecting a five/six week expedition ahead of me. I wasn’t expecting it to be a success.”
A success, it was, as Rupert became the sixth, and youngest, Brit to reach the top.
He said: “A lot of people who go to Annapurna are hard core climbers. When I arrived, that was the case. There were professional climbers from around the world. In my team were Nims, Hakon, aiming to be the first Norwegian to summit, and a famous sherpa Mingma David. There was also a guy called Don Bowie, who became the first Canadian to summit after surviving by the skin of his teeth last time.
“I wasn’t going there expecting to summit. I was going there thinking it was a great experience and to see if I could come back in one piece. Fortunately, it went well. After almost four weeks of battling weather, deep snow and dodging avalanches, we stood on the summit of Annapurna.”
Rupert said that when he returned to civilisation, he got a congratulatory email from Henry Day — the first Brit to summit in 1970.
“It was a really nice touch,” he said. “It’s a cool feeling. It was awesome.”
Writing on his website, Rupert said it was his 'love of the outdoors' that led him on his record-breaking path.
He added: "Growing up in Chichester, I didn't come across many mountains. In fact, not one. I spent much of my youth; running, cycling and sailing competitively, as part of the RYA Team GBR NationalYouth Squad in international regattas around the world."
It also wasn’t the first time Rupert went out looking to make the record books.
In 2015, at the age of 23, he travelled to Everest to complete a double summit.
“I wanted to be the first European to climb up one side, go down, and then climb up the other, back-to-back,” he said.
Rupert was forced to abandon the mission when he was at base camp on the south side of Everest on April 15, 2015, when Nepal’s biggest ever quake hit, killing nearly 9,000 people, including 19 on the mountain. In 2018, he revisited and reached the top of Everest on May 17 but his double summit attempt was thwarted by the theft of his oxygen tank.
No one, however, will be able to steal any glory from his latest expedition, which has so far raised £2,275 towards the Alzheimer’s Society. Click here to donate