03 August 2022

Allie Pepper Summits Annapurna I

On April 28th, 2022, Allie Pepper and Dawa Tenzing Sherpa, summited Annapurna I. In doing so, Allie became the third Australian to summit what many consider to be the most dangerous of the world’s 8000m peaks. After hearing stories of Allie’s expedition, there is no questioning the courage, sheer determination and luck required to overcome the dangers of this summit.


Allie Pepper and Dawa Tenzina

Allie and Dawa faced numerous setbacks in the form of blizzards, avalanches, precarious summit windows and of course, COVID-19. The pair beat the unrelenting conditions with a strategic approach and safety at the forefront, which saw them narrowly avoid several life-threatening events.

We chatted to Allie about her preparation for the summit, as well as the physical and mental repercussions of an expedition of this calibre.

Allie Pepper

What made you choose Annapurna?

Due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, I was unable to climb at altitude in 2020 or 2021. I wanted to attempt an 8000er without supplemental oxygen, so therefore chose one of the lower of the fourteen 8000m peaks. I’d initially planned to go to Dhaulagiri, but the company I chose to organise my logistics did not have an expedition there. Annapurna was my next choice, and they had a team of climbers on that mountain, so I was able to join them.

How were you feeling both physically and mentally after the summit? Has the recovery been lengthy?

I had been running on adrenalin for quite a long time during the expedition and I was on a high after the summit. The exhaustion didn’t really hit me until I got back to Kathmandu. I had lost around 7 kilos during the expedition.
Since returning to Australia, recovery was slow, and I feel it’s because I got COVID shortly after arriving in Nepal. I can’t say for certain how much weaker I was on the mountain, but I believe I would have been stronger had I not had COVID.

Aliie Pepper

What was the biggest challenge heading into the expedition?

Apart from the challenge of organising international travel after all the restrictions, the biggest challenge was getting COVID when I was acclimatising. I was very fit, feeling strong and moving quite fast at altitude prior to picking up the virus.

How did you prepare in the months leading up?

I had been training throughout lockdown, so I was feeling fit and strong in the lead up. I have been structuring my training with my coach Rowan Smith from Summit Strength and my physio, The North Face athlete Lee Cossey. Together they made sure I was physically ready and injury free. I built my endurance and cardio by trail running, road riding and pack carrying around my home in the Blue Mountains.
The key to the lead up is consistency in the training routine and putting in the hard work.

Allie Pepper

Any tips for up-and-coming adventurers who are looking to push the limits or attempt some bigger summits?

It took me a long time before I was ready physically and mentally to tackle 8000m peaks. I climbed a lot of 5000m and 6000m mountains before I headed higher. My advice is to get a broad base of experience and technical skills before attempting higher summits. It takes time and commitment, but it is a rewarding journey. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t expect to summit every mountain. Each mountain is a learning experience, it doesn’t always end in a summit and when we fail, we learn and grow. So, never give up and remember the journey is more important than the destination.

What’s next for Allie Pepper?

I am heading back to Nepal in September to climb Manaslu again, this time without the use of supplemental oxygen. If all goes well, Dawa and I will attempt to climb Dhaulagiri as well. My long-term plan is to climb all fourteen of the 8000m peaks in the best way I can, which is trying without using supplemental oxygen.

Allie Pepper

Lastly…. What was the first thing you did when you made it back to Pokhara after the descent?

My friend Kristin Harlia and I went out and shared wood fired pizza and a salad! We were in heaven.

Read the full account of Allie’s expedition on her website www.alliepepper.com.

Follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay in the loop on her upcoming expeditions.

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