Weather is often the most unpredictable part of an 8000m expedition
other than health. You can control some factors around health but for
weather, well not so much.
We went to sleep on Thursday night to a light rain that developed into a
full on storm throughout the night. Many times I awoke to a heavy
onslaught of rain on my tent walls as I was lying there wondering what
was happening high above us on Manaslu.
On Friday morning, the answer became clear. It snowed about a foot at
Camp 1 and twice that much at Camp 2. A French team at C2 made a hasty
re to Base Camp and others postponed all movement due to avalanche
and dangerous route conditions. As much as everyone was concerned, this
was very normal for any large mountain much less on Manaslu notorious
for bad weather.
Over breakfast we adjusted our minds to the notion that we would be
waiting at least a week for this new snow to settle and taking into
account that another storm was predicted for Tuesday. It rained all day
on Friday. We huddled in our tents sleeping, reading or moping. It was a
dark and dreary day.
But then around 5:00PM on Friday, Russell Brice paid our camp a visit.
He and Phil Crampton work very closely together coordinating, route
fixing, Sherpa and member rotations. They also compare weather
forecasts. Phil’s from the US and Russ’ from Switzerland. There was a
The new forecast showed the next weather wave not occurring until
September 26 or 27. This meant if we left on September 21st we could do
an orderly climb through the four camps and summit on September 25.
Another forecast from a Belgium service confirmed the long window then
yet another update from Michael Fagin in the US extended the good period
to 7 days. We were back on!!
The Altitude Junkies Sherpas went up this morning to pull the lines out
of the snow, repair a fallen ladder and break trail back to camp 2.
Tomorrow, the Himex Sherpas will continue to work to camp 4 thus opening
the route for summit bids.
We are all busy packing for the summit push this morning, Saturday
September 21. The plan is to spend one night each at Camps 1, 2, 3 and 4
then leaving for the summit in the early morning hours of September 25.
We will return to Camp 2 or even all the way back to Base Camp the same
day depending on weather and health.
I will do my to post a very brief audio dispatch on this site from
each camp and the summit but the communications have been difficult this
year so always remember that no news is good news. Also the final
authority on our expedition is from the Altitude Junkies official site
and not mine. I will have no way of responding to any email, or comments
on my blog, Facebook or Twitter until I return to Kathmandu but
please leave comments.
The last 36 hours has been a case study in climbing big mountains. We
have had contradicting information, incorrect on-mountain reports,
direct sightings that create confusion, the wave of up and down
emotions, different coping mechanisms and everything else that goes with
setting a difficult goal and getting close.
We have gone through the oxygen systems, spent time getting to know our
individual Personal Sherpas and reviewing exactly what we need for a
safe summit attempt. We are all in excellent health and better spirits.
The team dynamics are some for the I have seen on one of these big
If for some reason, the weather turns bad, we have time for a second
attempt but right now it looks great for a summit next Wednesday, Nepal
This is what we do. This is what I do, climb mountains. I have a
nervous flutter in my belly. This will be my first real test after
Everest, over two years ago. I am two years older. Manaslu’s route
conditions are as difficult as the Sherpas have seen in the least six
years. I know this will be hard but not impossible. Once again, I draw
strength from using my climbs to send a message of hope, need and
urgency for Alzheimer’s.
My goal is to stand on the true summit, not the fore-summit. This means
crossing a narrow cornice or snow ridge of about 20 feet. Yes, short but
significant in the mountaineering world. I will do everything I can to
reach that goal without putting Passang, my Sherpa partner, in danger.
Whew. Time has come. To my followers, thanks for your ongoing support
for my climbing and Alzheimer’s causes. To my climbing partners – well
And for my family. I miss you and love you deeply. mulu
Memories are Everything