A major avalanche similar to 2012 occurred high on Manalsu, between Camp 3 and 4, while several teams were climbing higher to be in position for summit bids around September 27 and 28. It appears that Sherpas ferrying loads to Camp 4 took the worst of the avalanche. Poor weather is hampering rescue efforts.
Let me warn readers from the outset that when these incidents occur, the first news is almost always incorrect or at least incomplete. The details will become clear as teams return to camps and communications are established. According to my sources on the mountain, it is unclear if the season will continue. It’s too early to make that decision.
The Himalayan Times reports that “As many as 12 climbers were injured … Sherpa climbers from Seven Summit Treks, Satori Adventure, Imagine Nepal Treks,
Elite Expedition, and 8K Expeditions are among others were injured. Gorkha Police said the deceased has been identified as Anup Rai.”
The Kathmandu Post reported that Icefall doctor Yukta Gurung, who is at the base camp, said that the avalanche was triggered by continuous snowfall. “It had snowed unceasingly for 15 days. The area was covered in at least five to six feet of snow; the piled-up snow ultimately gave way triggering the avalanche.”
Seven Summits Treks reported in with injuries, “We witnessed an avalanche this afternoon between C3-C4 while team were reopening the trail to C4 in Manaslu. More than 13 climbers (including Sherpas) were swept along with the avalanche. 4 Sherpas, including 2 from our team need urgent rescue from higher camp, however rest of all have minor injuries. “
Slowly teams are checking in. At the time of this post, around 10:00 PM Monday, September 26, Nepal time, we know that Furtunebach, Climbing the Seven Summits, Elite Expeditions, Imagine Nepal, Madison Mountaineering, Pioneer Adventure, and Wild Yak have all checked in with their teams safe.
The area where the avalanche was reported is in ideal avalanche terrain, as shown in this picture I took in 2013:
Apparently unrelated to the avalanche, American Hilaree Nelson, who was skiing from the true summit with her partner Jim Marrison went missing just below the true summit of Manaslu. Reports said she fell into a crevasse.
Sketchy Summits This Season
Manaslu had experienced very heavy snow this season, especially above Camp 2. Several teams turned back last week, fearing avalanches. However, Kristin Harila summited Manaslu on September 22 with @pasdawa_mountaineer and @dawaongjusherpa from @8kexpeditions. She made this report on that experience, citing the dangerous conditions.
Manaslu was probably the hardest summit push I ever had! We started out from BC on Monday, and Tuesday we had a short climb to C2. Heavy snowfall, and the weather forecast looked like more snow the night to 22.09.
We talked about climbing down, as most other did, but luckily we decided to climb up to C3 to see if the weather forecast was wrong. We knew it would be a long summit push from C3, so we started out already 8.30pm. We had incredibly beautiful weather! Trails half way up to C4, but the last half way we had to break trail and pull up the rope. We heard some avalanches when we climbed.
An hour after C4 @alexandra turned around after getting an asthma attack. Of course I wanted to be there, but when we got the news on the radio that she has decided to turn back, we were already too far away. I´ll talked with her on the radio and understood that she was in a bad situation.
@iamsimonemoro landed in C3 and flew her to the hopital in Kathmandu. She is all fine now!
Deep, heavy snow, and no trails made it very challenging! Finally we made it to the summit ridge. Many small avalanche when we stepped on the ridge, and I have to say just getting to the foresummit is not easy in this condition. We rappelled down, did the travers and climbed up to the middel top. When I climbed up here, heavy snow came down on me, and the last part to the real summit was not easy either.
After 19 hours, we finally reached the summit. On the way up, I wasn’t sure if we would make it, but I was so motivated to get it done! Thinking about going back next week, with so many people waiting for the next summit window in BC, made me really want to reach the summit.
It will not be any easier next week, even a lot of people also means trails.
I have never been so happy to reach a summit!
Many say that Manaslu is one of the easiest 8000m. Maybe, in good condition! But I think it is good to remember that the condition on the mountain have a lot to say about how easy the climb gets!
Manaslu 2012 Avalanche and 11 Dead
Manalsu is statistically one of the safer 8000ers with 2,172 summits (including the fore summit)and 88 deaths for a death rate of 1.49, putting it seventh out of eight in comparison to the other 8000ers in Tibet and Nepal. Of those, Cho Oyu is the lowest at 0.59, and Annapurna is the highest at 5.56, according to the Himalayan Database. The five 8000ers in Pakistan lie in the middle of this range.
Many operators have avoided Manaslu for avalanche reasons since the tragedy in 2012 when 11 people died in an avalanche. It was caused by a large serac releasing above Camp 3 at 7,400m. This triggered a slab avalanche which hit Camp 3 directly and impacted Camp 2 with a severe wind blast. Many of the 11 killed were in their tents, most sleeping, at Camp 3 around 4:45AM Sunday, September 23, 2012, Nepal time.
Avalanche debris was spread from 7,400m to 6,300m. Rescue efforts started immediately with teams climbing up from Camps 1 and 2. A B3 high-altitude helicopter from Simrik Air performed 18 total flights that day with 14 evacuations. 31 people were caught in the avalanche. Eight bodies were recovered, and three were listed as missing and presumed dead.
As I previously reported, the Nepal government has issued 404 permits to foreigners. Combining this with a 1:1.2 support ratio, between 700-900 people are currently attempting Manaslu. With this heavy snow, the route to the true summit may become even more treacherous. The rope fixing stream apparently fixed the route using the traverse and stayed off the true ridge. The ridge is usually heavily corniced, and this will exacerbate that danger. And the route from below the ridge rises directly to the summit after a short traverse.
My condolences to the family of the dead and injured. I’ll update this post as reliable news becomes available.
Memories are Everything
The Podcast on alanarnette.com
If you dream of climbing mountains but are unsure how to start or reach your next level, from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest, or even K2, we can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers worldwide achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 25 years of high-altitude mountain experience, including summits of Everest, K2, and Manaslu, and 30 years as a business executive.