NEWSLETTERS - Manaslu 2017

Manaslu Expedition 2017 #19 September 2017

Hi All

Our 2017 Manaslu trip is already well underway. Although we were promised that wifi connection would be ready as soon as we arrived at BC, due to logistical problems it has taken Everest Link a little longer than expected to actually make the system work. This is the first year that Everest Link have operated at Manaslu, so such problems are to be expected. Like on Everest, Himex is providing the accommodation for the Everest Link technician so at least we have a good idea of what is happening and the problems associated to providing a wifi system in a very remote valley. It is all too easy to just expect wifi everywhere we go these days, but here we have to set the system up to actually reach BC, but then to distribute this to all the individual camps dotted around the mountain side adds another challenge. And of course climbers are all surprised at how quickly their MB’s are used up with automatic down loads to their devices. All taken for granted in cities.

Sunset on Manaslu from C1
Sunset on Manaslu from C1

Due to Tibet being closed this season of course Manaslu has to take the brunt of more climbing teams than normal. In fact this resulted in several of my booked members deferring until next year as they are concerned about the numbers that may be on Manaslu this season. This resulted in us ending up with a small team consisting of Daniel Horne from the UK and Frank Seidel from Germany with Richie Hunter from New Zealand guiding. This same pattern reflected to other operators as well, so Adventure Consultants our friends from New Zealand also had a small team, so we have decided to join together with Base Camp facilities, but still climb on the hill independently. The AC team of 4 members is led by Dean Staples who has also worked for Himex in the past, so this is a rather easy co-operation.

So far our progress has been on schedule. Everyone arrived into Ktm on 27, gear was sent by truck, donkey and porter on 28, and we all flew into Samagon on 29 in clear weather which affords some spectacular views of the Himalayan mountains. We did our normal acclimatisation walks to the Samagon lake, the local waterfall and to the Punga Monastery in a hidden valley, then it was up to BC on 01 Sept, arriving just before it started to rain. It then rained nonstop for the next 4 days, and we did not even see the other side of BC let alone the mountain itself. However we still managed to get everything sorted at the BC during this time, so camp is in fine shape. Eventually on the 5th it cleared and Seven Summits were able to fix rope to C1 and our Sherpas Loppsang Temba, Nima Sonam and Phurba Tashi also went to C1. At the same time Richie, Dan, Frank and myself went to Crampon Point, so at least there was some progress. The following day all Sherpas and members went to C1 and back to BC to check out the route. 7th was a rest day, which we spent the morning building a new dam for our hydropower system as the old dam was starting to leak too much.

Dam building
Dam building

Yesterday members went up to C1 to stay for the night, Sherpas did another load carry, and the AC team came up from Samagon to have lunch and then went back down to the village, Mountain Experience members arrived to BC, and Seven Summits fixed rope up to C2.
Today, dawned a beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky, the first we have had this season. Members went to the Hour Glass and are right now returning to BC for lunch, and the Sherpas are resting. Tomorrow members will rest, Sherpas will load carry to C2 and the AC team will come up to stay at BC.

Looking down to BC
Looking down to BC

But around us, there are many new camps that we do not normally see here, so hundreds of Sherpas have been busy building tent platforms in new locations. So it would appear that it is indeed going to be a busy season. It is rumoured that there is at least 300 western climbers and about the same number of Sherpas here this season, although there are only a few of these climbers here at BC at the moment. I am sure there will be a big influx of climbers in the coming days. Looking at conditions I see less avalanche activity than normal, and what headwalls that are visible are only about 1m deep, which would indicate that there was not much snow up high on the hill during the monsoon season. But there are many more runnels in the snow up to about C2 (6,300m) which would tend to indicate that it has been raining a lot up to this altitude. The small glacier just behind the BC is even smaller and is now about ¼ the size that it was when I first came here 9 years ago. Yes we see that it is warmer than it used to be.

That’s about it for now.

From an English climber’s point of view, the constant rain when we arrived at base camp made it feel like home, which was very welcome for a few hours. Then the joke wore off and I was wishing the rain away much like the rest of the team. When we did finally get out of our tents and start to walk/climb it dawned on us what a hard task we have ahead, but with every step we feel we are achieving. I certainly am given my previous highest point of 4,800m, so almost every day I’m breaking a new personal record. Russ has set up an incredible camp, Richie is an ideal guide who puts up with our nonsense, and Frank is a great partner to be climbing with!

Until next time, wish us luck!