NEWSLETTERS - Manaslu 2009

Newsletter 110 September 2009

Manaslu 2009 gets under way

Back in Kathmandu. Namaste! Finally the expedition is on its way, and I am back in Kathmandu, which is always a good feeling. Steve, Suzuki and I arrived the 28th of August meeting Russell, Adrian, Hiro and Desiree at the Hotel Tibet, the Himex Kathmandu base.

The complete members of the expedition are: Yachiyo Suzuki, Japan Desiree Dubon, USA Steve Sandstrom, USA Jan De Lint, Netherlands Julian Haszard, New Zealand Richard Ragan, USA Soren Gudmann, Denmark and the guides Russell Brice, New Zealand, Adrian Ballinger, UK/USA, and Hiro Kuraoka, Japan. We also have 5 Swiss climbers joining our team in a week or so.

Julian and Richard will join us in Samagaon. Julian is the founder of SmileHigh (www.smilehigh.net) a charity organisation providing dentistry services to people living in remote villages in Nepal. He is already in Samagaon, the village at the foot of Manaslu, where we shall acclimatize some days before going to base camp. Richard works for the UN World Food Programme, and has a few things to sort out before he will be joining the expedition.

We shop for the last items, some do sightseeing and we get time for a bit of partying – or you might say “acclimatizing”!

The heli-flight to the village of Samagaon was delayed just one day and suddenly we are airborne, cruising between the clouds. After landing in Samagon we are met by the kitchen crew and people from the village. They greet us with Namaste and give us white silk scarfs. It’s a beautiful day in beautiful surroundings, and it feels good to be moving closer to the mountain. The weather is quite wet, with low clouds and rain most of the time. It’s clearly monsoon.

The camp is at 3400m (11,450 feet) altitude, and we begin our acclimatization by hikes in the valley and up the hillsides. The team members get to know each other exchanging climbing stories.

The Sherpa team is already at the base camp site working on establishing the camp and loads are on the way up the valley on the back of dozens of porters. The people of Samagaon are also hired to do the carrying from the village up the hill to the camp, an elevation gain of approx. 1300m.( 4200 feet)

On the 4th of September we are moving up too. In the morning it is sunny and clear and we see the summit of Manaslu for the first time. It’s an awesome sight. We enjoy a couple of hours of sunshine while moving up through lush forest. However, we are soon in the cloud and it starts raining. On the muddy trail we are caught by the porters carrying up to 40 kg – and still smiling! These people never stop impressing me.

Base camp Base camp is located on a stony moraine between two glaciers at approx. 4700m (15,600 feet), which is a moderate altitude, and should provide a good basis for rest and recuperation. Our camp is the biggest and most comfortable on the hill. In addition to individual sleeping tent for the members we have big tents for dining, kitchen, HQ/communications/store, food store, Sherpa dining and Sherpa sleeping quarters. We might have to spend many days here due to the wet and unstable weather – so all the luxury is appreciated. The Sherpa team is comprised of six persons all with several Everest summits and some with a Manaslu summit on the CV. Actually the team of climbers + Sherpas have done a total of approximately 50 Everest or other 8000m summits! During the first night at BC we get a good load of snow and the next morning all of us are shovelling to free the tents.

Puja

Before we can start climbing the mountain we must have the puja ceremony, and this one is a serious one. The monk, who has travelled all the way from Kathmandu, was told by the head lama to do a real good one for us. And he does, the ceremony lasts for three hours!

Now the Sherpas can start working and we can start climbing. The next days we do various kinds of training and walks to the glacier. We are in business! More updates to come soon!

Soren Gudmann