NEWSLETTERS - Manaslu 2009

Newsletter 57 October 2009

Manaslu Wrap-Up 2009

There's no better dispatch to write than one finishing a successful and fun season on a spectacular peak. Manaslu was very friendly to our Himalayan Experience team this year. After starting the season with a long a rainy finish to the monsoon (our first 10 days or so were filled with rain and snow), the weather broke and we saw clear skies, low winds and lots of sun.

This meant great climbing conditions and low avalanche hazard, and our strong group took full advantage. Our main group left base camp for the summit push after lunch on September 24, with our Swiss climbers leaving a day later, but with the plan of catching us by Camp 4.

The climbing from Base Camp to Camp 4 was fast and fun. The route our Sherpa and guides had fixed over the previous weeks was in perfect condition, and good steps were finally beaten in by lots of climbers doing multiple acclimatization trips. The steep climbing over ice bands above 24,000 feet on the way to Camp 4 was new to all of our members and a real challenge (and good warmup) for summit day. By 2pm on September 27, our team was in Camp 4 at 24,500 feet. We rested, ate what we could, brewed up lots of tea and enjoyed stunning views before trying to sleep in preparation for a 2 am wake-up call.

With cold temps and a bit of wind, walking out of camp at 4 am was a bit rough. Those of us enjoying supplemental oxygen appreciated all of its warming benefits! The first couple of hours in the dark went quickly and by sunrise we were approaching 8000 meters, and had passed all of the other climbers on the peak. The night had had quite a bit of wind up high, so we were once again putting in a fresh trail through breakable crust and fixing lines. Teams that climbed on the 27th had fixed a hundred meters or so of rope, but not enough to failsafe the route to the false summit, nor complete the ridge to the true summit.

Dorji Sherpa summited at approximately 8:35 am, with the members of our team and other sherpa shuttling one at a time to the top over the next hour. Between 8:30am and 9:30 am the following members and sherpa summited:

Julian Haszard, New Zealand Soren Gudmann, Denmark Jan De Lint, Netherlands Desiree Dubon, USA Hiro Kuraoka, Japan Adrian Ballinger, UK Lhakpa Nuru, Nepal Nuru Geljen, Nepal Nima Sherpa, Nepal Sonam Dorji, Nepal Dorji Sherpa, Nepal An hour later (approximately 10:30am) 3 members of our Swiss team summited without the use of supplemental oxygen, along with one sherpa: Adrian Schuler, Switzerland Sami, Switzerland Mario, Switzerland Kusang Sherpa, Nepal

After the obligatory photos on top, and a quick celebration back off the technical terrain on the false summit, we raced down the peak, with most of the team reaching base-camp (11,000 feet below the summit) on the same day, after a 14 hour round trip push. Although we were a bit too tired that night top celebrate, we made up for it 2 nights later with a famous Russell Brice basecamp bash featuring great food and lots of champagne! And then the waiting game began for porters back down to the town of Sama Gaon, and helicopters back to Kathmandu. Congratulations to all of the 2009 Manaslu Team for lots of summits and a safe return of all of our members and staff! Check back again soon for additional photos from the expedition. -Adrian Ballinger, Himalayan Experience