Of all the ‘eight thousanders’, Annapurna has the highest fatality rate. This is one big, bad brute of a mountain, treacherous and deadly. Standing at its south base camp, its power is immediate. A seemingly impenetrable wall of granite and ice, glaciers tumble down the mountain’s face, the upper reaches an intimidating web of cliffs and jagged folds, the top reached by a precarious ridge. To get this close is to appreciate both the beauty and the danger of the grand beasts of the Himalayas, awesome and austere in their silence and scale.