NEWSLETTERS - Manaslu 2010

Newsletter 126 August 2010

The Manaslu season has kicked off

Himex is back in Kathmandu and the Manaslu team is slowly trickling in. Russell and our expedition doctor, Monica Piris, arrived in the Nepalese capital a couple of days ago together with Mat Gabriele from Australia and Matthew Holt from South Africa. Last night we had our first outing to the bars and restaurants in Thamel and on Thursday we are expecting the rest of the crew to arrive in Kathmandu.

During our time at base camp, I will use the time to introduce you to the individual members, however, here is a short run-down of the guides and clients, who are part of the Himex Manaslu expedition this year:

Renee Bergsma from the Netherlands
Dominic Brieger from the UK, living in Hong
Matthew Gabriele from Australia
Matthew Holt from the UK, living in South Africa
Alan Millard from the UK
Ellen Miller from the US
Aaron Olliver from the US
Adam Parore from New Zealand
Yachiyo Suzuki from Japan
Pieter van den Broeke from the Netherlands
and myself, Billi Bierling from Germany, living in Nepal/Pakistan

Our guides are:
Adrian Ballinger from the USA
Mark Woodward from New Zealand

..and of course there is our Sherpa team, without which climbing the mountain would be impossible for most of us. However, as I have not yet received the full information on who will actually be joining us, I will introduce them in a separate newsletter. But one thing is for sure - the legendary Phurba Tashi Sherpa, Russell’s right hand, will be leading the team again this year.

On the trek

Two of our team members are already out trekking. Dominic Brieger from Hongkong has already left for Manaslu base camp and Yachiyo Suzuki from Japan is currently hiking in the Everest region to acclimatise for our expedition.

Monica, our chef Lachhu and I will be leaving Kathmandu on Friday morning and trek to Samagoan, which is the last village before we head for base camp at 4,700m. Our trek will take four to five days and the monsoon rains will hopefully have stopped by then so that we will get less leeches and better views!

The rest of the team will be flying to Samagoan on Sunday, 29th August, using four helicopters carrying three people each plus some of our climbing gear, food and other equipment.

We will then stay in the small village of Samagoan for a couple of days to acclimatise before we head to our temporary home and join the other teams that are already camped at the foot of the mountain.

Due to a lack of demand, the Himex team had to cancel this year’s eye clinic campaign, however, Aaron Olliver is bringing three porter loads of shoes, which we will distribute to the local population in Samagoan and surrounding villages.

A brief history

For those, who have not heard about Manaslu, here is a brief history of the eighth highest mountain in the world. The 8,156m peak lies in the west-central part of Nepal and its name means ‘Mountain of the Spirit”.

The first people to reach the summit of this beautiful peak on 9 May 1956 were Toshio Imanishi from Japan and Gyalzen Norbu from Nepal. However, the pair was not the first to attempt the mountain. After H.W. Tilman had led a reconnaissance expedition to the Annapurna region in 1950, four Japanese teams explored the possibility to reach the top of Manaslu between 1950 and 1955.

Since its first ascent, Manaslu has been successfully climbed 435 times and with more and more commercial expeditions offering to climb this peak, this number is slowly rising.

Manaslu is also known for its heavy snowfall and I am sure our morning exercise will be shuffling snow before we head to the mess tent for breakfast. Well, the good thing is that we will not get bored or even get unfit on the mountain!

I am really looking forward to updating you, once again, on our expedition and I hope you will enjoy reading the newsletters from Manaslu this season.

I will hopefully be in touch again once everyone has arrived in Samagoan.