NEWSLETTERS - Manaslu 2014

The Daily Moraine - Manaslu 2014 #221 September 2014

Great progress

Saturday 20th started as a gloomy day with light snow / rain at BC and 30cm of snow at C2 which dampened the team spirits a little.

On route to Camp 2
On route to Camp 2

Over the past few days we have had delightful weather with clear blue skies and great visibility on the hill, which has resulted in great progress with the Sherpa’s pushing the route through to C3 on the Col at 6,900m. Between 3 Sherpa’s from Himex and 3 Sherpa’s from Altitude Junkies we have also been able to fix rope to within 500m (of rope) and 100m (vertical) from C4 @ 7,440m. We had hoped to finish the route to C4 today, however the weather did not allow this. Our weather forecast did say that there would be cloudy wet weather today, but we did not expect this to go quite so high, but never mind, that is life in the mountains. I have been working with the Swiss weather forecasting company Meteotest for many years, and I find their forecasting to be extremely accurate, which has enabled us to have many successful and safe summit days. The information that Meteotest sends me is extensive, but this is only a “forecast” and in the end it is for me to read, understand and interpret so as to make the correct mountaineering decisions. It is relatively easy to predict wind speeds, but extremely difficult to predict precipitation, so it is hard to know where clouds will form and as to how high they might go. So today we see that the cloud has gone a little higher than we expected. But this is no great problem, we have just delayed forward progress for today. None the less we see that today and tomorrow there is more cloud around and more wind on the summit, but it does look like there is a good weather envelope coming up in the coming week for us to be able to reach the summit.

Returning from Camp 2
Returning from Camp 2

Acclimatisation & Avalanches

Our acclimatisation program has been progressive with everyone now having slept at C2 and having done a day trip towards C3 so we are now ready to set out from BC for the summit attempt. This will be a slow and controlled ascent with nights at C1, 2, 3 and 4 before climbing to the summit. Much of the acclimatisation was done during the bad weather at BC, when we were able to operate on the hill, but still not in danger of new snow avalanches.

Speaking of avalanches, 4 nights ago the ice cliffs that triggered the major avalanche in 2012 released again, causing an avalanche almost as big as the one in 2012, coming right down the upper slopes and passed about 100 meters away from C2. As I mentioned in my previous newsletter I had already noted that this was still active earlier this year before we had arrived at BC. Like in 2012 our C2 was situated on a small rise in the local terrain and with 2 large crevasses between us and the normal slide path. As we were the only people on the mountain at the time, this latest avalanche went largely unnoticed by most, as opposed to when teams were camped right in the slide path in 2012.

Camp Surveys

With my return from Ktm I was able to bring various magazines and papers which helped beat boredom by members. We did a quick survey to find what our readers looked at the most, 1 being the least and 5 being the most. We found that readers looked at:

The Economist 1
Time 1
Outside 1
Backpacker 1
Business 360 1
Kathmandu Post 1
Mens Health 3
The Outdoor Journal 5

Of course the fine weather also brought on a flurry of body washing in our gas fired shower tent and a lot of laundry. This brought on yet another survey about luxuries on expedition; 1 lowest, 10 highest.

Hot towels in the morning and before meals 9
Pillows in the BC tent 9
Mattress in the BC tent 10
Heater in the dining tent 10
Coffee at breakfast 8
Fresh fruit juice for breakfast 10
Lights in the BC 10
Music at dinner 5 (depending on who’s play list we have to endure)
Wine at dinner 7
Carpet in the dining tent 10
Flowers in the dining tent 10
Hot shower at BC 10


Almost ready for summit

Now that we are almost ready for summit pushes, it is interesting to see that there are about 18 teams on the mountain this year, with about 103 Western climbers and 65 Sherpa’s climbing above BC and it appears that there is about another 68 base camp staff working. So far 6,800m of rope and 131 snow pickets have been used to get the fixed rope to C4. Himalayan Experience has provided 23 man days towards the rope fixing along with Altitude Junkies providing 20 man days and Seven Summits providing 2 man days. In order to finish fixed ropes to the summit there is probably another 5 man days of work to be done, (which I expect Himex and AJ will do) remembering that to get to the true summit requires some delicate route finding on the final corniced ridge.

Although we have no Scots on our team, we have nonetheless read about the Scottish Independence vote in the Economist so a sweep stake was taken around team members, and interestingly the opinion was split almost 50/50 which is similar to poles taken before the election. There was a huge 100 Nepal Rupee entry fee, so the winners were able to make a RS 77 profit on the winnings. Of course there will be a major survey into members way of thinking, what country they come from, what colour down suit they have, do they leave their barrel standing or lying down, and other such behavioural characteristics before we can issue a full report. But what with all the other surveys going on, I am not sure I will have time before the end of this expedition!!!!

Besides there is still the newsletter to write as well as getting everyone to the summit and back down safely.