Autumn 2019 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Summit Mass!

Manaslu summit , 2013

Manaslu has taken center stage with over 150 summits while climbers are on hold on Dhaulagiri waiting for good weather and Everest waiting for the serac to fall.  China still not responding to Nim’s request to climb Shishapangma.

Everest – Climbing on hold

Both the Madison Mountaineering team and Andrzej Bargiel team are still at base camp waiting and wondering if/when the serac will fall onto the Icefall. Garrett posted a nice photo of everyone having dinner together tonight, Thursday, September 26, 2019:

Image may contain: 9 people, including Garrett Madison, people smiling, people sitting and indoor

Project Possible: Going for #13, Manaslu, Friday

Looking to summit all 14 of the 8000ers in seven months, Nirmal Purja Purja Purja, is at C4 on Manaslu going for the summit Friday, September 27.

I am currently at Camp 4, leading an exped for @elitehimalayan . We will be making our summit push early tomorrow morning.

He now has 12 in a mere 154 days: Annapurna (April 23), Dhaulagiri, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Everest, Lhotse, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, K2, Broad Peak and Cho Oyu (Sept 23). He needs to complete Shish by November 23, to meet his goal of seven months.

China has said all foreigners must be out of Tibet no later than October 1 fearing protests around anniversaries, holidays, remembrances, etc. thus leaving open the big question of whether they will give Nirmal Purja Purja Purja a climbing permit for Shishapangma. Additionally, China had said no climbing on Shishapangma a few months ago after a string of deaths and accidents on the lowest of the fourteen 8000ers. They felt the mountain had become too dangerous to climb.

Chris Burke on Dhaulagiri posted this bit of trivia regarding Nirmal Purja Purja Purja:

For those following Nirmal Purja Purja Purja, he may come to Dhaulagiri after climbing Manaslu (and before that Cho-Oyu). Dhaulagiri for a second time this year would make it 14 x 8,000m peaks for him in 2019.

Dhaulagiri – Summit Push Delayed by Weather

Sergi Mingote is at base camp with Carlos Soria FontánChris Jensen Burke and Expedition Base. They are ready for the summit push when weather allows.

Sergi posted this nice photo of him with Carlos:

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Chris gave a very good detailed update:

DHAULAGIRI EXPEDITION UPDATE: the team returned to BC yesterday after an epic 3 night, 4-day rotation on the mountain. Dhaulagiri is testing us with heavy snowfalls, deep snow in which to break trail, winds less of a challenge so far (but some would be appreciated to move on this late monsoonal weather), and searing heat up to Camp 2 – to what feels like 40 degrees​【4 °C】 Celsius or more, followed by below freezing cold nights as soon as the sun goes down.

One heavy snowfall more than a week ago stopped everyone in their tracks at BC and caused two teams to arrive at BC late (one by air and one by foot). One was so late that they are starting a rotation up the mountain today.

Deep snow under foot is burning energy as it requires a lot of energy to break through. I had the ‘opportunity’ to break trail on two sections in the last few days (one up and one down) and it reminded me that Sherpa guides have this task 99% of the time.

It has been lovely to catch up with Carlos Soria, Luis and Sito on the mountain, friends from prior mountaineering expeditions. Carlos’ pace is unbelievably fast and when I reach 80 years old, I hope to at least go half his pace, should I be so lucky! Incredibly inspirational! Good luck to Carlos and team. I really hope for your sake we see a weather window soon and that Dhaulagiri can mark Carlos’ 13th x 8,000m peak.

Just as Manaslu was late to be roped to the summit and for summit pushes to begin this season, at Dhaulagiri we hope to see an opportunity for a late summit push to begin in the next few days before any chance is gone for this season – once we do actually leave BC it will be a 3.5 day push up and 1-2 days down (whilst you could descend in one day we may hold at Camp 1 for the right conditions to pass through to BC via ‘The Eiger’ traverse). Teams – including us – are furiously scanning weather forecasts. What makes Dhaulagiri different is that you need to move from BC just at the right time in order to manage the risk of avalanches and, more so at the moment, the rock fall on ‘the Eiger’ traverse just out of BC. Normally on other big mountains, it is possible to move through some bad weather to get good weather at the summit. For Dhaulagiri, you need the right weather first up to actually climb up out of BC. As two climbers experienced today, dodging large deadly rocks on the traverse as they release explosively and zoom past you as you dive for cover is a very uncomfortable feeling indeed…

For those following Nirmal Purja Purja Purja, he may come to Dhaulagiri after climbing Manaslu (and before that Cho-Oyu). Dhaulagiri for a second time this year would make it 14 x 8,000m peaks for him in 2019.

Around 90% of the climbers at the mountain are pre-acclimatised from other 8,000m mountains, acclimatizing in the nearby Khumbu and Rowaling regions, or from living and training at altitude. In comparison, as I’m coming from sea level this time, I’m a bit slower than I am normally but all is still coming together and I’m acclimatizing quickly.

Funnily, some Sherpas keep mistaking me for Jeannette McGill (South Africa) since we appear similar in their eyes and she has the blonde hair that I previously had when climbing. After some weeks, they are nearly figuring out who is who! Jeannette is climbing well and is one of the strongest South African female mountaineers climbing the big mountains at the moment. I believe she may be the only South African to have even attempted this mountain and hopefully, mountain gods permitting, she will be able to have touched the summit before going home.

Lakpa and our Expedition Base team is well and strong. Brett Hammond from the UK, with whom I climbed Manaslu in 2013, is also here so we are all having a great time and preparing well for the next phase.

One climber from another team commented to me early in this expedition that a big uncertainty in 8,000m peak climbing has been removed in 2019 with a ‘seige’ type approach to route setting on the 8,000m peaks in both Nepal and Pakistan – once the ropes are fixed (often the go/no-go element) it is a case of waiting for other elements to fall into place. Dhaulagiri is proving the exception for 2019. The ropes are currently only set to ‘lower’ Camp 3 and we need to move more ropes up before route setting can occur higher up. There will need to be a good strategy in place for the ropes to be finalized for teams to push for the summit. Team co-operation will be critical.

Numbers on climbing permits Dhaulagiri are around 30 foreign climbers, plus around the same number of Nepali Sherpas. Good luck to those still climbing, for a safe and successful final push.

I won’t likely post again before we head off on the summit push, given the timing is unknown and we will be going down to the wire. We hope to settle the final plan with other teams by tomorrow or the next day.

Manaslu – 41++ Summits in the Clouds

A ton of summits, over 100, taking the total to well over 150 thus far. Those teams with summits today on Manalsu include:

  • Pioneer Adventures – 5 members, 8 Sherpas
  • Satori Adventures – 8 members, 6 Sherpas including Elisabeth Revol
  • Seven Summits Treks – 12 members, 12 Sherpas including Noel and Lynne Hanna
  • Shangri-La Nepal – 2 members
  • Dream Himalaya Adventures – 1 member, 1 Sherpa
  • Seven Summits Club – 5 members, 2 guides, 8 Sherpas
  • Furtenbach – summits but no details

Adventure ConsultantsClimbing the Seven Summits, Arnold Coster and Summit Climb are looking to summit tomorrow or Saturday

Cho Oyu – 5 ++ Summits!

IMG posted they out 6 climbers on the summit, not sure of the mix between members and support. Alpenglow is still on their push.

Shishapangma – Closed

The Chinese have officially closed Shish for the season.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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2 thoughts on “Autumn 2019 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Summit Mass!

  1. Hi Alan, just interested to know what your take is on the serac. Do you think it will come down in time for them to summit? Is there any way of monitoring how close it is to falling? Excuse the ignorance but I’m very interested to know how things work out there.

    1. Hard to predict Lisa. If there was a big temperature difference with freeze/thaw it may move it but that’s very unlikely this time of year. Of course, a small tremor could do it but who can predict that? These things have their own timeline so patience is key. that said, one day it will release.

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