Everest for Sahel Preparation: Manaslu Expedition In Progress

(Photo by Altitude Junkies)

September 22

Just in – Arrived at Camp 2 OK at 6300 meters!  see tracker here   http://fms.ws/9l43s/28.57519N/84.55788E

September 21

To camp 1 ok, looks like next to camp 2 tomorrow which is the most “tricky” part of the ascent.   See spot tracker for exact location today at 1300 CET http://fms.ws/9kIKc/28.58805N/84.56618E

September 20

Today is day 10 in the base camp! That is a very long time but it is
not unusual for Manaslu. Manaslu gets more precipitation than any
other mountain in the region. So, patience is the only way to go.

The Waiting Game

To change the scenery and to clear the mind, me and few other brave group
members walked down to Sama Goan. The weather was terrible – snow and
rain. The most difficult part was the mud. However, that  didn’t stop us – we
needed to stretch our legs and get some exercise. Coming back was a
bit too much that we expected. I think I picked up a cough after that
walk in cold and rain.

Yesterday, it was sunny for several hours. All of us caught up on
laundry. The sun was so intense that I sun burned my face just from
sitting around the base camp. I didn’t put sun screen… I should know
better!!!

The weather is improving and we are planning to go up to Camp 1
tomorrow. We will sleep there and go to Camp  2 the next day.
We are also planning to sleep at Camp 2 and return to the base camp.
This will complete our acclimatization. When we return, we will rest
for few days and go for the summit push when the weather permits.

I will take advantage  of the wait today and rest as much as I can to be strong for
tomorrow’s climb to Camp 1! I only hope that my cold will  go away!
Almost every other group member got over the head cold by now… and
it is too bad I am getting it now.

September 19

Update available from Altitude junkies. Still playing the waiting game, waiting for the window of opportunity. Also pic of the team. http://www.altitudejunkies.com/dispatchmanaslu12.html

September 18

Went down to Sama Goan today, just to keep moving and to break up the boredom of waiting. Lots of snow has fallen on the mountain. Woken up in the night several times by the thunder of avalanches. Best wait for the snow to consolidate (settle) to keep safety as the number 1 priority. beforeitsnews.com http://tinyurl.com/9ruee6y has a good rundown of many the teams progress. Most are sitting it out…waiting. Thanks for the mention beforeitsnews.com !

September 17

Edita’s email today  “The weather at Manaslu is something we cannot control, it snows and rains here a lot. We are in a holding pattern at the base camp. It requires lots of patience as we have to sit in the base camp and wait for the weather to improve. It can rain for 7 to 10 days non stop. So, I have lots of time to think about why I am here. It is an ultimate test of my mental state and it can be nerve racking to sit and wait, thinking of all the effort I will have to put in the final summit climb. I am thinking a lot about all the people at home and in the Sahel behind me and the reason I am here – to prepare for my ultimate climb of Mt Everest next spring – an Everest for Sahel climb campaign to help raise awareness and support for the continued hunger crisis in the Sahel.”

September 15

The weather is not looking very good. http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Manaslu/forecasts/6500  .  Hope to hear from Edita tomorrow by satellite. The climb from camp 1 to camp 2 is the most dangerous part of the ascent.  It is not a “walk”…

September 14 Update from Edita
“We had the hardest day so far today since the beginning of our expedition. We went for our first acclimatization walk to Camp 1. We also carried our first loads there – high altitude sleeping bag,thermorest, thermo pad, some other supplies that I will need to usewhen we go next time for our second rotation to Camp 1 (spend a night there) and then carry to Camp 2. We got up around 6 am, had our breakfast, checked the gear and put our harnesses on as we planned to clip onto the fixed ropes which are already in place up to Camp 2. Apparently, there are so many crevasses on Manaslu and fixed rope can save your life in case you fall into one.
The climb was not too bad, the beginning part was a rocky part until we reached the ‘crampon point’ where the icy part began and where we all had put our crampons on.The second part was going through the ice field full of crevasses. I made sure I am clipped in the fixed rope where ever I could. The climb was not too strenuous, it was gradually going up. Phil said that the ice field is very dry and dirty this year. Normally is is covered by fresh snow. However, with dry ice you can see the crevasses better, less risk of falling into one.  After the ice field was over, we came to a final steep climb (approximately 750 meters) to Camp 1. It was a difficult part and I was
super happy when the climb was over. I made it in about 3 hours from the base camp to Camp 1 which is a very good speed. The rest of the group was following behind me. The slowest climbers arrived over an hour later. The Sherpas were already there, setting up tents and establishing our
base at Camp 1. They arrived before us and carried heavy loads. They are all incredibly strong and fast. Without them, we could not survive climbing an 8,000 meter peak. There are very few who can do that but still with base camp support.  We stayed there until the final member arrived, dropped off loads and went back to the base camp. On the way down, the snow and ice was so soft that some of the crevasses became even wider. One of the group
member who was walking right in front of me almost fell into a crevasse. He was lucky he held onto our rope and we where right there to pull him out before he went down. The edge of the crevassse broke off when he jumped across. By 1 pm, most of us where sitting in the dinning dome and drinking milk tea which is a traditional tea in Nepal.

It was a good acclimatization “walk”. We will stay here for three days until we go back up for the second rotation to Camp 1 (where we will sleep) and to Camp 2 (also sleep) and if we are in good shape, go up to tag Camp 3. This will complete our acclimatization and load carrying before we go back to the base camp and wait to the final summit push. It may still take from 2 to 3 weeks before we start our final push to the higher camps and to the summit. It has been raining in the base camp every day. We are at the altitude where rain is common. I am thinking to go down again to Sama Goan for some change in scenery and to pass the time. It gets very boring
sitting for days at the base camp.”

May the Mountain Gods be with them 🙂

September 14

Manaslu Camp 1 and back to Base Camp Sept 14

September 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm · Filed under Uncategorized · Edit

Edita called on sat phone today. They dropped a load up at camp 1 and are back down at base camp. Sounds like a few of them had a little to much to drink during yesterdays visit by the Lama. As expected, she toughed it out and did the climb in 3.5 hours to camp 1 and made it back ok.  (spot tracker here) http://fms.ws/9drbv/28.59393N/84.59937E   They will rest a day or two and go to ca p 2 and stay in camp 1 overnight brrr..the real work has started. Wish her luck please

September 13Today we had our Puja. It started very early in the morning, something at 6 AM. It is because the Lamas who come to do Puja, have to go around and do many of them in one day. So, I got out of my tent just a little after 6 am and everybody was already there, getting ready for the ceremony. Puja is a religious Buddhist ceremony, very important for the Sherpa culture. No Sherpa would agree to go up the mountain before Puja, it would be considered as a bad omen.
Our Sherpas got up even earlier than us to set up the stupa for the ceremony. There were drinks and cookies already there, by the altar, all Sherpas seemed super excited.
For us, westerners, Puja is just a ceremony to respect the local tradition and culture. It usually ends with everyone being super drunk as drinking is a part of the ceremony. So, the ceremony started, the Lamas started singing and playing  drum and gong. After a while, they blessed the climbing gear and we all have to throw flour towards the stupa. We all get a bit white from the flour. 
Then the drinking started. First, we all got three shots of rum and then the Nepalese rice wine. It was still something 9 AM. After a while, the Sherpa singing and dancing began. I tried dancing but got dizzy from lack of air and too much wine. Everybody seemed to be having a good time. The kitchen boy went around with the wine jar every minute, so the wine glass was never empty. As you can imagine, after few hours, we could barely stand on our feet… I went to my tent to get something around noon and I never came out – I felt asleep right away. I woke up around 2 pm, and the camp was dead quiet. Everybody was sleeping… drunk, even Sherpas…
Tomorrow, we are starting our first rotation to Camp 1. It will be interesting to see everyone when they wake up. It will be a difficult
day, especially after all that drinking today. I will pack my bags before I go to bed today so I am ready for a climb in the morning. We need to bring most our gear – crampons, ice ax, ect. as the the glacier climbing (‘crampon point ‘ or as we call ‘crapmton’ as Phil’s last name) starts about 45 min after we leave camp. I will be carrying my lighter sleeping bag which I will leave at Camp 1. The heavier sleeping bag (-40C plus) I decided to leave in the base camp as I want to go as light as possible when traveling in the higher camps. We will drop off the stuff at Camp 1 and return to the base camp. This is a part of acclimatization. Next time we go to Camp 1, we will sleep there and then will tag Camp 2.

September 10th Updated

Today we had a big day, climbing from the tea house in Sama Goan (3,550 mtr) where we spent the last 3 nights  way up to the base camp (4,900 mtr). It’s a big altitude gain in a single day so I was expecting to have a headache or altitude related dizziness. Phil went to the base camp the day before to make sure everything is set up for us when we arrive. So, we left after lunch, to give enough time to Sherpa to finish the base camp construction.

Some slower climbers left earlier. I teamed up with Kevin from L.A. and we were almost the last ones to leave. Only few others were just behind us. The route was flat at the beginning, we had to cross the Budhi Gandaki river again, which we followed from Arughat. The stream here was much narrower but powerful. It originates at the lake near the glacier where we went swimming yesterday. After a while, the path turns left and becomes steeper and goes through the rhododendron forest. The path becomes even steeper and steeper. At one point, looking far down in the distance can see the glacier lake, a turquoise color . You can also see the immense glacier, looking kind of grey, with streams going down. I could also hear ice seracs falling down, like some powerful streams.

The path seems to continue forever, going along the glacier and then going up along steep hillsides. There were many porters coming down from the base camp, where they dropped of their loads. Phil told us that some of the porters can do two rotations per day which is really hard and unbelievable. I kept looking at my altimeter and it was still showing over 4,000 meters – still so many meters to go. I started feeling the altitude, I had to stop and have a drink. Jonathan who was the latest to leave just showed up behind me. He was just running up the hill like a mountain goat… He is one of the youngest and strongest climbers in the group. I kept climbing, following Kevin. Finally, I heard Kevin shout – “I see tents!” I was really happy to arrive to the base camp although after a cup up team and changing to the dry and warm clothes I felt I could go on again. The camp site looked amazing – everything set up, private tents with fit in carpets and mattresses, two domes – one for comms and another – dinner. Big kitchen tent and two storage tents. It is so nice to have a storage tent where you can store all your gear and stuff you don’t need to use at the base camp. That means that your own tent does not need to be clogged up. Immediately, I felt that I will be comfortably here in the base camp, where I will spend over 20 days, when not in the higher camps.

We all settled in for our first happy hour (wine, cheese, olives, pringles) in our dinning tent. Suddenly, we realized that one of our team member is missing. The guy who was missing is quite a character (he is very funny guy – makes jokes non stop which are full of self irony), so it was kind of funny that he was missing. He left earlier than the few others but nobody seen him on the trek. SO, it was obvious, he took the wrong turn and went towards Samdo, very close to the Tibetan border. The funny thing is that it is very hard to miss the trek to the base camp as you can see porters going up and down all the time. He showed up the next day. As you can imagine, the frst evening at the base camp was flavored with jokes and fantasies about our fellow climber’s adventures.

Check out spot tracker here. GPS SPOT TRACKER …at the edge of the Manaslu Glasier. Up Up and Away 🙂

September 9th

After six days of trekking along Budhi Gandaki river, we arrived to Sama Goan. The trek itself was spectacular, probably one of the most beautiful treks in the world. Every day the views were stunning, river gorges opening up to green hills, waterfalls, villages. Last day of trekking we went through an ‘enchanted’ forest where most of our group members saw big white and black monkeys. That event alone made our day!

Now I am in Sama Goan, the last village before we head up to the base camp. This is my second day of acclimatization and rest at 3,550 meters altitude. I’ll be heading up to the base camp tomorrow after lunch.

The group dynamics is great. To complement that, every day Altitude Junkies provide delicious meals from stakes, chicken, pasta, etc… ( I never eat so good even at home). And of course, our happy hour every day still continues even though we ran out of wine on the third day of trekking… Good news, base camp will be well stocked with all different provisions when we arrive there tomorrow.

Up to this point, the expedition was more like being on vacation. Today, we went for a short acclimatization walk to Birendra Tal lake which is formed just below the glacier. It was a sunny and warm day so we all could not resist to jumping in freezing water. It was very refreshing although nobody wanted to stay in for too long as we can’t take any chances for getting sick at the beginning of the expedition.

Yesterday, I got up at around 5:30 AM and saw this beautiful Manaslu summit. This morning I tried again, but only clouds. It’s not very often you have such a view of Manaslu as Sama Goan is cloudy most of the days

The real challenge will begin tomorrow, when we will be heading up the steep slope from Sama Goan leading to the base camp. STAY TUNED for updates from the base camp.

September 6

At Namrung Village in Manaslu Conservation Area. See Edita’s location here  GPS SPOT TRACKER 

September 5

Check out the spot tracker (link below) Edita is trekking through village of Machhakhola

September 1

We left Kathmandu this morning at 6 AM, duffle bags loaded up in the back of the bus. We headed towards our first camp during this expedition Arughat. The first part of the road was kind of paved, so the bus was moving steadily. However, this didn’t last for too long as we entered deeper into the remote areas. This is still monsoon (rainy) season in Nepal, so it rains a lot. Further away we drove, the road got more bumpy and muddy. After about four hours ride, the road became so muddy that our bus could not go further.

(Photo by Edita Nichols: Bad road conditions – bus could not go any longer)

Everything is so organized on this trip, the four wheel truck came out of no where. We switched our bags to the trunk. Lucky for me and Mila (we are only two females on this expedition), we got to sit with the driver in the cabin. The rest of the group boarded on the open trunk with the bags! We continued our journey through the muddy, extremely bumpy road, all of us holding to whatever we could hold onto for our dear lives… This was the scariest ride I ever had in Nepal… One of the highlights was the crossing of the river. Amazingly, we made it across all in one piece! We arrived in Arughat a little after 2 PM, which is a record time comparing to the last year’s arrival after the dark. Many of the guys got there first sunburns. All sweaty (it’s very hot and humid at this altitude – Arughat is just above 500 meters.) The Sherpa team was already there, waiting for us. We all settled in to our individual tents. What a treat! And of course, the Altitude Junkies are known for their ‘happy hour’… And yes, we had red wine and cheese… To all our surprise, we found out there is a wifi in Arughat! So, this is defiantly my  last blog post before the base camp.

Tomorrow, we start our trek to Sama Goan and to the base camp. It will take several days. We will also take couple if days of rest before we reach the base camp. Phil (our expedition leader) said that this is the most beautiful trek in the world. So, I’ll make sure I take plenty of photos!

(Photo by Edita Nichols: Holding as hard as I can before we drive into the river and across on the way to Arughat)

Continue reading HERE..

***

Altitude Junkies are posting daily expedition dispatches here. I am also using GPS SPOT TRACKER to update “real time” on my expedition progress.

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