NEWSLETTERS - Manaslu 2012

Newsletter #517 September 2012

Rain, Rain, Rain

Despite the constant rain at BC, the Himex team has been busy. On the afternoon of the 12th members made their way up to C1 in the rain, arriving to camp looking like drowned rats. However the effort was rewarded when they set off for C2 the following morning in clear calm weather. Most members were at C2 in 4 - 5 hours and were able to spend the afternoon bathed in warm sunshine, whilst BC was drenched in torrents of rain. The morning of 14th four Sherpas left BC at 03.00 and made their way up to C2 where they collected equipment and then proceeded up to C3 fixing rope in a couple of places across crevasses. They erected two tents before returning to C2 for the night. The team members also went from C2 to C3 and then back to C2 for the night. Another 4 Sherpas left BC at 05.30 with rope fixing equipment and went to the top of the Hour Glass where they spent time improving the ladder and then made a separate descent route down the Hour Glass, before returning to BC.

Meteotest has been predicting this rain at BC and the clear skies at altitude, but they were also predicting light snow falls over night, hence the members were up and ready to start their descent to BC by 06.00 in the morning of 15th. It was snowing lightly and there was 10cm of new snow on the ground, but they made a fast decent to C1. The Sherpas broke down all bar 2 of the tents which are being used to store all the equipment at C2. This was repeated at C1, taking down all the tents other than the one large dome that is being used as a store. The Sherpas and team members then proceeded down the now familiar route to the damp BC.

In the meanwhile Phurba and I attended the Rope Fixing meeting at the Seven Summits Trek camp, with about 50 people all standing under umbrellas. The meeting went like most rope fixing meetings that I attend, with everyone agreeing to what needs to be done and how it should be done, but then the Sherpas / Nepali members changing everything, so then the main leaders needed to re-negotiate everything. But it was eventually decided that each Western member should contribute  50m of rope and 1 snow picket, or $50 cash. It was decided that Sherpas who work towards rope fixing should be paid their bonuses from the central pool of money. Work carried out between BC - C1 would gain a bonus of $10 and so it would be on a regular scale C1 - C2 bonus of $20, C2 - C3 bonus of $30, C3 - C4 bonus of $40 and summit day a bonus of $50. This is of a help to this teams who contribute Sherpa power for the good of all on the mountain. These operators still pay for the daily wages of the Sherpas, but just do not need to pay for the bonuses.

It was also agreed that each Western member would contribute Rupees 1,000 towards the cleaning of the BC area.  It is good to see that our efforts are being duplicated by other teams and the removal of all trash has been formalised.

All the members were pleased to be off the mountain and back in BC where they could change into dry clothing and be in warm dry tents with great food again. And also pleased that they did not have to deal with the increasing snow fall at altitude that we understood was happening due to the many avalanches that were now coming down the slopes behind our BC. Over the years we have become used to this indicator slope that informs us when there are unstable or avalanche conditions at altitude. It has been a very useful tool during expeditions.

The Himex team has had a very good run so far this year, with everything going to plan, and we are in effect a couple of days ahead of schedule. Today is a rest day, however the forecast does not look good for 18th and 19th so I suspect that we are going to be here in the rain for a few extra days than we really want. However there was a small respite in the rain this morning and our Sherpas and guides with the help from some IMG Sherpas built a new helicopter pad. The old one has rising ground on two side and is in fact quite dangerous. We found a much more suitable site just another 20 m away, but this required the flattening of a small ridge top. But after 3 hours of hard work we now have a 32 square metre helipad that has drops on 3 sides which will make the approach and the take off of helicopters much safer in the future.

Rain has even effected play on the volleyball court, and the golf has been transferred to an indoor mini golf course inside the Sherpa dining tent, so things are REALLY GETTING BAD. But we are all smiles here and looking forward to getting back up on the hill.