The monsoon clouds are still amongst us here in Kathmandu as we wrap up the past weeks of summer climbing. It's been a successful season on a few 8000m peaks.
Ang Kaji popped into the office today tanned and beaming from his double header on Shishapangma and Cho Oyu in Tibet. He was the first to summit Shishapangma as part of the rope fixing team to the central summit on the 25th September at 9.15am. He and his Mongolian client also topped out on Cho Oyu at 6.30am on the 2nd Oct as well!!! Amazing effort!!!
Lakpa and Sumit have both had productive summers. Lakpa led a group to the Karakoram range in Pakistan. The expedition was slightly delayed by the unfortunate and sad Nanga Parbat base camp attack, but despite being rattled by the incident the team focussed on their objective and successfully climbed both Gasherbrum I (8080m) and II (8035m).
The Himalayan Ascent team arrived safely back in Kathmandu on September 27th via helicopter from Samagoan. You can read details about the avalanche that occurred on Manaslu September 23rd 2012 on many expedition websites and climber blogs. This is just a summary from the Himalayan Ascent perspective about the events surrounding the avalanche.
Climbing Manaslu carries considerable avalanche risk, it’s a factor known by all who climb it. The days leading up to the avalanche, the mountain and base camp endured a storm that dropped metres of fresh snow including on its avalanche prone slopes. Wary of this, many teams were slow to restart rotation or summit bids after the storm passed. Eventually by September 21st most expeditions were back on the mountain but were ever watchful of the conditions. Unfortunately, no one anticipated that it would be seracs from 7400m ~4.15am to be the trigger for a colossal avalanche that swept down and over Camp 3 (6800m). The 31 people at Camp 3 were caught sleeping in their tents.
It's been an emotional and exhausting last few days. Lapka and Anjkaji spent most of yesterday on the rescue team looking for survivors or bodies. Unfortunately no one was recovered. The mountain is not safe this season. It's received too much snow, and even though it's unlikely for history to repeat itself during a single season, this mountain is just not meant to be climbed this year.
The storm did come dumping metres and metres of snow. The team have delayed their Camp 2 acclimatisation rotation and have made a quick escape to Manaslu base camp. Unfortunately as it snows up top, it is raining down below. But at least they're dry inside warm spacious tents and are eating well.
The team is well settled in Manaslu base camp at 4800m, which is shrouded in mist and daily afternoon rain. Today they enjoyed clear views of Manaslu once above the clouds during their first rotation to Camp 1 (5700m). The climbing was good but busy! Manaslu has attracted huge numbers this year with teams rerouting Cho Oyu expeditions to this normally lesser climbed mountain.
Finally in Samagaon, the last village before base camp! The team is ecstatic that tomorrow is a rest day...well kind of a rest day with only a short day hike around the village planned. The last few days of steep trails, in rain, heat and increasing altitude have been tiring. The team will acclimatise here now for a few days and rest up before moving to base camp only a few hours walk from the village.