Annapurna is a series of peaks in the Himalayas, a 55 km (34 mi)-long massif of which the highest point, Annapurna I, stands at 8,091 meters (26,545 ft), making it the 10th-highest summit in the world and one of the 14 "eight-thousanders". It is located east of a great gorge cut through the Himalayas by the Kali Gandaki River, which separates it from the Dhaulagiri massif. Annapurna is a Sanskrit name which literally means "full of food" (feminine form), but is normally translated as Goddess of the Harvests. In Hinduism, Annapurna is a goddess of fertility and agriculture. The Annapurna peaks are among the world's most dangerous mountains to climb, with a fatality rate of 40%.
Located in the central Himalaya region of Nepal, Annapurna is significant in that it was the first 8000-meter peak ever climbed. The 1950 first ascent via the North Face was immortalized in Maurice Herzog's book "Annapurna", the sine qua non of mountaineering literature. It took 20 years for another team to succeed on the mountain. The 1970 ascent of the South Face of Annapurna by Chris Bonington's team was a landmark in the history of mountaineering. This is a mountain that is among the most familiar of mountains, yet one that is very rarely climbed. With a fatality rate of 54%, and as of 2005, only 103 successful summits have been made, for the loss of 56 lives, many to the avalanches for which the mountain is known. Climbers killed on the peak include famed Russian climber Anatoli Boukreev in 1997, Christian Kuntner in 2005 and Iñaki Ochoa in 2008.The first solo climb was October 2007 on the South Face by Slovenian climber Tomaz Humar.
The summit of Annapurna is highly coveted ground. Of the fourteen 8000 meter mountains on earth, none has seen fewer attempts or successful summits as Annapurna. To date, less than 160 people have stood on her summit, compared to 3000+ total Everest summits, and 265 total summits on K2. Maurice Herzog first successfully climbed the mountain in 1950, four years before Everest's summit was reached, testimony to the difficult nature and elusive reputation of the mountain.