Manaslu Expedition 2012 Dispatches here:
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)
I arrived safely in Katmandu with all my luggage. I met with the rest of the expedition team which consists of 8 different nationalities (China, Russia, Canada, USA, Lithuania, Denmark, Nepal, UK). Leaving tomorrow morning at 0600 on an adventurous drive to Arughat (crazy road). In a few days will start a beautiful trek to Samagoan and then on to basecamp. I will be out of touch for a few days only using my GPS spot tracker. see HERE for updates on my location
1st Manaslu Team Meeting
I am leaving for Kathmandu today, where I will join my expedition members and we will start our journey on Saturday. I will arrive in Kathmandu on Friday morning. So, I will have a whole day to check my gear again and do my last minute shopping if needed. I think I have never been as prepared as I am now. The more you do these kind of expeditions, the more you learn what to bring. Once you are on the mountain, there is no turning back, you will not have a chance to get what you need. You are stuck with what you have for over a month. That’s why it is important to come to an expedition as prepared as possible, physically, mentally and WELL EQUIPPED.
I just read an article about a guy who barely came back from an 8,000 plus meter expedition. He was snowblinded at some point because he didn’t bring the right sun glasses. When I read this, I was so irritated that a person could take such a risk and go on an expedition, not knowing what is NECESSARY equipment. It is not a fashion show, the right equipment is not an option! If you make such a mistake, you could put yourself at risk and you also put others at risk who will be rescuing you. This is definitely not my style of climbing. Many may admire his thirst for adventure but I and behalf of those that would be devastated if you he did not come back, I insist that you DO NO GO unprepared. If he writes a book on his adventure, it should be titled “How not to climb a 8000 meter mountain”.
I always check my gear many times and check with my guides to make sure I have what I need. I bring my favorite gadgets such as GPS Spot Tracker, high altitude watch, cameras, iPod, etc. I am so proud of my newest addition – a Sony ebook reader (sorry Kindle lovers…). It is lighter than my notebook… This is the first time I am not bringing any paper books… but got many many books uploaded on my reader… This time I am all for the efficiency:)
Today I am doing the final check of my expedition gear. Gear is one of the key elements that ensures you have a safe and successful climb. Most of the gear that I own I already used at least once on my expeditions and it proved it works.
There are few items that I wish I could add or upgrade (down suite, few other light weight outer layers, etc). It is tempting to look for something new as so many good quality, incredibly light weight and even more efficient mountaineering wear and gear each year are produced! However, the cost of the expedition is extremely consuming. I might not have matching outfit (climbing for me is not a fashion show!) but I’ll have all I need to survive on an 8,000-er for 45 days!
(Photo by Edita Nichols : My Expedition Gear )
I am now into my final preparations for my next 8,000 meter adventure –Mt Manaslu, Himalayas (Nepal). Our expedition will be taking the North East ridge of Manaslu. (see Altitude Junkies)
The Manaslu expedition will last 45 days (depending on the weather conditions). Here is the photo of the route I am climbing.
(Photo by Altitude Junkies)
I will stay in touch with my partner who will be using Spot Tracker to update on my expedition progress as well as updating my blog during the whole expedition. So, STAY TUNED to see my progress! Also, the Altitude Junkies will be posting daily expedition dispatches here.
Getting ready for Mt Everest 2013– Next Step – Manaslu (8,163mtr) September 2012 (MANASLU WAS ACCOMPLISHED ON October 1, 2012 )
One Step at a Time
My first big step was when I climbed my first peak of over 5,000 meters, Kilimanjaro in 2010. Since then, I summited other peaks, such as Mera peak, Mt Blanc, Mt Aconcagua and others. I also summited my first 8,000’er – Cho Oyu last year. My passion for mountain climbing has not diminished with these mountains behind me now, but instead it has grown even more for bigger ambitions and challenges. The people I have met and the things we lived through together will be with me for life. You cannot be selfish on a mountain. You have to learn how to rely on other climbers, guides and Sherpas and your equipment (my gear list) for survival. It’s all very humbling.
I have always loved mountains. I have a huge amount of energy and I like activity that gives me a physical and mental challenge. I seem to crave and be able to endure challenging environments for extended periods. Although I am a cautious climber, I have reached the summits of all the peaks I have attempted. It’s no wonder why mountaineering and I are the right fit.
During the summer of 2012, I was in Niger, working for the World Food Program on the food crisis in Sahel region of Africa (WFP Sahel). I have to admit that I have never seen so many hungry people in one place before! It is a shame that so many people (especially kids, babies) have to go to bed every night hungry! It can ripe your heart out of your chest.
(Photo by Edita Nichols)
It was here that it came to me that I can help. I will dedicate my climbs to a campaign called “Everest for Sahel”. I want to raise awareness of the situation in the Sahel and rally as much support for the people of the region as possible! We all can make huge difference if we pay more attention and advocate however we can for these people in need.
Here are some photos I took while I was on a mission in Niger. One thing I learned there that it doesn’t take much to make people, especially children, smile… You can make them smile too — just give a little you can to this campaign…
You can also make these people smile…(click on the photo below for slide show).
I want to inspire other women to reach their personal goals and challenge themselves and believe that they can achieve things that they dream of. I come from a former soviet country where most people, especially women, were led to believe that dreams and adventures are pointless. The difference between me and them is that I always believed that my dreams can come true and life can be adventurous. I have been able to achieve many of my dreams just by having the courage to take one step at a time.
I am planning my next 8,000 meter adventure this fall –Mt Manaslu, Himalayas (Nepal). Our expedition is taking the North East ridge of Manaslu. (see Altitude Junkies)
This next expedition will last 45 days (depending on the weather conditions) Here is the photo of the route I am climbing.
(Photo by Altitude Junkies)
Training for Manaslu and BIG E…
Trekking, jogging, yoga, exercise – all these activities are a part of my normal life. However, this is not sufficient for me to get ready for an 8,000 meter peak. I started more intensive exercising and training already this summer, few months before Manaslu expedition. Since I was living in Niger, part of my exercising was jogging…which is in Sahara desert… in +40C temperature heat! It was hard but it was a good test of my endurance.
(Photo by Edita Nichols, ‘getting ready for Mt Manaslu 2012’)
The conditions to get a proper training in Niger where not so good due to heat and many hours of work. However, I was able to exercise every day – going to a tiny gym (no A/C), using mechanical treadmill which was perfect for to work on my leg strength. Three times a week, I would join Azziz’s (local instructor) “body pump” and “body attack” class. It was also a great work-out for me in addition to my regular running and thread-milling.
I was really lucky to be able to spend my last month before Manaslu expedition in Switzerland, where conditions for training were perfect. My normal training day would start by an 1 hr and 30 min jogging through the hills; an hour of yoga and swimming afterwards. In the evening, I would take up to two hours walks.
During the week-ends, I would go trekking to Chamonix the Alps or to the Saleve and Jura hills surrounding Geneva city. Carrying a heavy back pack, I would trek and climb for several hours per day.
I leave for Manaslu expedition next week. By now, I think I am in a pretty good shape to start my expedition.
(Edita on the way to Albert I hut point from Tour point in the Alps (near Chamonix)