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Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Avalanche – Injuries and One Death

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Sep 262022
Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Avalanche - Injuries and One Death

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.

Opinion: An Open Letter to Mountaineering Policy Decision Makers

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Sep 232022
Opinion: An Open Letter to Mountaineering Policy Decision Makers

An open letter to Mountaineering Policy Decision Makers,

After each season, pictures emerge showing trash left by climbers and long queues of climbers seeking their time on the summit. The public demands changes to protect the mountains. The operators announce clean-up campaigns and ask for donations. Countries respond with new rules. However, history shows these new rules are ghosts and are often ignored. There is time before the 2023 season to make significant changes. Please use this time to save your mountains and the tourism industry.

Sep 222022
Podcast: Manaslu 2022 and Taking Care of our Mountains

The Manaslu 2022 season is moving nicely, with the first client summits for the season on Thursday, September 22, 2022. There are a record number of people there, with 400 foreigners with permits and an equal or greater r number of support climbers, so it’s crowded. This means there is an opportunity for more trash, crowds, and poor practices.

In this podcast, I talk about my 2013 experience on Manaslu plus how we can take better care of our mountains.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Summits!

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Sep 222022
Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu Summits!

While most teams were waiting in base camp for the recent snowfall to settle, a few pushed on, breaking trail and either pulling the fixed ropes out or putting in new ones to reach the true summit of Manaslu. There is no word on the route was used but Kristin Harila, Pasdawa Sherpa, Dawa Ongchu Sherpa, with 8k Expeditions, were one of the first to summit. They will continue their quest to get all 14 8000ers in six months. Now they move to Cho Oyu from the Nepal side and hopefully Shishapangma if the Chinese will approve their permit application.

Other summits were reported by Vijay Kumar Appasab Patil (India) with Phurba Dorchi Sherpa, Mingma Thinduk Sherpa, and Chinese climber Hu Tao with Pioneer Treks.

Sanu Sherpa summited the true top after his first two summits were apparently only to the fore summit. He had

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Avalanche Danger Stalls Summit Bids

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Sep 212022
Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Avalanche Danger Stalls Summit Bids

The recent heavy snow has stalled summit bids on Manaslu. Around 30 cm, ~1 foot of fresh snow is reported between C3 and C4. Phunuru Sherpa with International Mountain Guides reported that 120 people turned back due to avalanche conditions today, September 21, 2022. They are back in Base  Camp now. Also, several cases of COVID are being reported at Manaslu.

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Summit Bids Nearing

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Sep 202022
Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Summit Bids Nearing

Progress continues on Manalsu, with many teams having reached Camp 2 at 21,000 feet and some to Camp 3 around 22,300 feet during their acclimatization rotation. Up to three feet of fresh snow recently fell on the upper mountain. Summit bids are expected to begin on Thursday, September 22.

The Nepal government has issued 404 permits to foreigners. Combining this with a 1:1.2 support ratio, there are around 1,000 people currently attempting Manaslu. One of the reasons Manaslu is so popular these days is that China closed Cho Oyu in the last few years due to COVID. These two 8000ers are considered the best ones for beginner climbers of the highest peaks. Of course, now that Manaslu’s true summit has come into focus, those who really value a summit may be disappointed.

There is little doubt that 2022 will be a record summit year on Manaslu, but only if you take the previous summit claims to include the fore summit. In 2019 there were 363 “summits,” 2018 had 354, and 2017 saw 329. Before these years, summits rarely reached the 100 level. Of course, if you count only the true summit, these numbers go from a handful to zero. It will be interesting to see how many people claim they reached the true summit in 2022.

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Mass on Manaslu – Rope to True Summit

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Sep 152022
Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Mass on Manaslu - Rope to True Summit

The fixed ropes are now to the true summit of Manaslu. As expected, Manaslu is overrun with clients and a greater number of support climbers. Thus far, the Nepal government has issued 394 permits to foreigners, so considering a 1:1.5 support ratio, that puts close to 600 people on the peak, with more to come.

In an interesting twist, a few climbers who climbed all fourteen of the 8000ers are returning to Manaslu to correct the “sins” of the past by tagging the true summit. I don’t expect all of the people on Manaslu to attempt the true summit unless the conditions are extremely safe, or for example, a boot path is created that allows beginner 8000er climbers to simply follow a trail. Most will be content to tag the fore summit and move on to other 8000ers next spring.

Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu and More!

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Sep 082022
Autumn 2022 Himalayan Season: Manaslu and More!

Repost due to error in first post. My apologies

The autumn climbing season is underway, with most of the attention on Nepal’s Manaslu, oft acknowledged as one of the more “attainable” 8000ers. However, many things changed last year when one team showed an alternate route to the true summit, thus turning scores of climber’s previous claims on their heels, including my own.

With an expected record crowd on Manalsu, I hope we don’t see a repeat of this spring’s and summer’s poor practices with respect to trash, excessive support, and excessive supplemental oxygen on Manaslu. However, with so much demand for these 8000ers, nothing surprises me anymore.

For many, the allure of the 8000ers is gone, as interest in following masses of inexperienced people led by massive support leaves a sour taste for many avid climbing fans. In many ways, the 8000ers have become like Kilimanjaro, Denali, Aconcagua, or the rest of the Seven Summits, attracting too many people seduced by summit promises, low prices, and rock-star style leaders. I fear we are only one unexpected situation be it weather, ques or competence from a major tragedy on the big peaks. That said, if you have the skills and experience plus choose the right team, route, and season, climbing these beasts will change your life for the better.

Aug 232022
Going for 8000er Record: Kristin Harila all 14 in Six Months

A new trend in 8000-meter climbing is how many you can get in one trip and how fast. Norweigan Kristin Harila is on track to smash long-time records this year. Thus far, she has eleven of the fourteen, all with climbing Sherpas, Pasdawa Sherpa, and Dawa Ongju Sherpa, of 8K Expeditions. I had the opportunity to record this interview with her during a short respite back home in Norway.

The current record is 189 days between April 23 and October 29, 2019, by Nirmal Purja Pun Magar and is recognized by Guinness World Records. However, a study posted online notes it took Nirmal five years, four months, and 25 days to complete all 14, primarily due to their conclusion that he didn’t reach Manaslu’s true summit during his 2019 campaign and only did in the autumn of 2021. Kristin’s first summit of the project was Annapurna on April 28, 2022. She will need to finish by November 3, 2022, to get the speed record.

She is no stranger to mountaineering. In 2019, she became the fastest woman to climb Everest and Lhotse in a record 12 hours. The 36-year-old is from Vadso/Norway and is a former cross-country skier. Today, she claims her profession is as a mountaineer, runner, and skier.

Next up for the trio are Nepal’s Manaslu true summit, before trying Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. She prefers climbing both from the Tibet side, but as we know, the Chinese have closed Tibet for climbing due to COVID since 2000. They will have to get an exception to enter the country for their attempt. She tells me she will attempt Cho from Nepal if she cannot enter Tibet.

Aug 122022
K2 2022: No O's, Unsupported Summits on Broad Peak and K2 -  Interview with Andreas Frydensberg and Eric Gilbertson

K2 had a record year this 2022 summer. Most of the summits were by Sherpas or Pakistani climbers helping their paying clients, but a handful were the rare type: no supplemental oxygen, no Sherpa support, and no commercial team.

Danish climber Andreas Ritzau Frydensberg with American Eric Gilbertson summited Broad Peak on July 18th and K2 on July 28th. On his website, Country Highpoints, Eric describes their Broad Peak, and K2 climbs in detail. They climbed unsupported, using Pakastani Alpine Adventure Guides for base camp services. So they climbed with no on-mountain support – no Sherpas to set up tents, cook food, or break trail. They also didn’t use supplemental oxygen.

Before getting to their story, I admit that 2022 caused me to lose some hope in the sport I admire. Too many inexperienced climbers, too much talk of records, most important only to the individual seeking it, and teams with too many clients supported but too many Sherpas. It just felt out of control. I’m thankful we had a relatively small number of deaths, but as I learn more, I see many rescues and near misses, so this was a season of luck.

In looking at what Eric and Andreas did, they gave me hope. I am excited to see younger climbers demonstrate creativity, excellent judgment, and impressive results, all in good style. It gave me hope for our sport, and I’m proud of them and several others who climbed similarly. Now, onto the interview.

This relaxed-paced interview with Eric and Andreas only days after they returned home to Seattle and Denmark, respectively.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything