Departed 2nd September 2013 Leader and Updates: Stu Peacock
14th October: We’re all back in Kathmandu now after our speedy exit from Samagon yesterday via Russian mi8-am helicopter, the same ones used in Kyrgyzstan. 8 days it took to get in to Samagon and 30 minutes to get back. The religious festival of Dashain is now in full swing which means everything is closing down for the holidays. The Team will be making their return around the 15th now.
9th October: We have just had a call from Stu who has returned down to Camp 2. The team have all put heroic effort in but had to cancel this years summit attempt due to terrible conditions on Manaslu. Stu felt this was his most challenging trip to date but despite the conditions the team has performed amazing well and he could have asked no more of them.
At both Camp 2 and Camp 3 tents have been damaged by snow and some completely lost with the entire camp having to be dug out including re-making tent platforms which is extremely tiring at altitude. All this, combined with having to break trail through thigh deep snow each day; its been a very tough few days!
Last night was extremely cold and windy and the Sherpas had to endure no sleeping bags due to their tent being destroyed and sleeping bags lost. Stu did feel they still had a chance if they had attained Camp 4 but they discovered today that the fixed ropes had been completely iced over and no longer usable.
The team have now retreated to Base Camp and all expect to helicopter out on Saturday.
7th October: Stu called with an update today from Camp 2. There has been lots of snowfall at 6500m and below and the team have had a challenging but rewarding day as a result. They have been breaking trail in thigh deep snow through Serac fields and across snow bridges on the steep ground from Camp 1, but managed nevertheless to make the ascent in reasonable time.
There are only themselves, the sherpas and the British Army team on the mountain at the moment. The army group had gone on ahead, but then held back and it sounds like there is some friendly collaboration between them.
Jim unfortunately pulled a calf muscle when leaving Camp 1, and has had to descend to Base Camp. He is disappointed but philosophical, and apart from the calf is fit and well.
Due to the snowfall, the team have had their work cut out clearing snow from the tents at both Camp 1 and Camp 2. Fortunately the weather is now good although quite cold, and the forecast is not looking too bad for the days ahead.
Tomorrow they plan to set off at 8 a.m. local time and attempt to get to Camp 3. It should hopefully be possible to rig a route to the side of the debris from the previous Serac collapse. They expect to take 4-5 hours to make the ascent to the Camp. The route onwards from Camp 3 looks like there is not too much snow, which will make the going easier from them on.
4th October: An update by Stu- Well it certainly was a blow for the team to be confronted by the impassable obstacle of the collapsed crevasse at 6600m. The same crevasse that saw us assist in the rescue of the Altitude Junkies leader. Combine this with the mixed weather and the team’s feeling was this was not meant to be.
However, after descending back down to BC and being greeted with a chicken sizzler platter for dinner, our spirits are once again lifted. That and the fact that the weather looks to be clearing around the 8th – 12th October means we can now re-focus on the 10th Oct as the date for our final summit attempt.
The team are feeling strong and we have one more rest day down at BC before heading back up to camp 1 on the 6th. Look at the gallery photos from our foray up the mountain. If you can imagine the people at the top stood on one side of a 2m wide crevasse you can hopefully appreciate how much has collapsed.
The British Army team have invited us over again for dinner this evening. They are heading up the hill tomorrow so no late night drinking this time!
3rd October: Stu just called to explain they have had a set back with going up to Camp 3 today. There was a large Serac collapse between Camp 2 and Camp 3 overnight. It has cut the fixed rope and blocked that route. The team have returned to Base Camp to organise a new route and ropes and hope to get started tomorrow now. The team still have spare time on the mountain so hopefully this is just a delay to their eventual Summit success!
1st October: Stu and the team have started their summit bid now. They arrived at Camp 1 around an hour ago and plan to move up to a higher camp each day until they depart Camp 4 on Thursday around 2.30am Nepali time for the Summit. They are meeting the Sherpas at Camp 2 tomorrow who are making final preparations for them.
With light winds and some snow so its all looking good for a 10am summit on the 5th now. Assuming all goes to plan they will head straight back down to Camp 2. Everyone is in good spirits and looking forwards to the next few days.
26th September: We are all now back safe and sound at base camp. The team have now successfully negotiated the hardest day on the mountain so far. The route to Camp 2 weaves its way through huge seracs and up snow flutings. Truly a work of art in route choice for the rope fixing teams. Apparently this year proved a lot more complicated due to the movement of some of the seracs.
We have had two wonderful nights Camp 2 at 6330m. The summit ridge feels a lot closer now. Yesterday we planned to touch Camp 3 at 6800m, but as with all best made plans they never quite go as you’d like. At around 6600m the leader from Altitude Junkies (carrying 4 oxygen cylinders) managed to break a snow bridge on his way down and fell 10m down into a crevasse. I was 20m above the crevasse and Keith & Simon where just below the crevasse. Thankfully with the help of some sherpas with some spare rope, we were able to set up a pulley system that spanned the crevasse (thanks to some ingenuity from Keith and Simon), so that we could get Phil out on the downward slope side of the crevasse. So after the excitement and a queue building on the up hillside for people wanting to get down, Simon & Keith headed back down to camp 2. As I was already on the uphill side of the crevasse I decided to carry on the extra 40 minutes to check out the new area for Camp 3.
All looks good for our next foray up the mountain, we just need to discuss with the remaining teams what’s the best solution to overcome the crevasse en-route to Camp 3.
Now looking forward to a few rest days at base camp and let’s see what the weather holds before we decide our next plan of action.
21st September, Jim McManus: Thursday 19th saw the fully formed team leave Manaslu Base Camp for a carry and sleep at Camp 1, having attended the Puja ceremony on Wednesday where the team had boots, axes and themselves blessed by a Llama.
The team left after a fantastic breakfast and drifted in to Camp One throughout the afternoon from 14:00 onwards after a height gain of 900 metres. The terrain varied from moraine to glacier with plenty of crevasses – fortunately they were small as Keith had to rescue one of Jim’s crampons from one, we then moved onto to steeper snow slopes.
The group passed through a small camp approx 200 metres below the recognised camp and the last 2 hours was in baking sunshine – the last we were to see, as not long afterwards whilst everyone got settled in their tents and put a meal on, the snow came down.
Fridays attempt to Camp 2 was called off as the snow did not relent for nearly 24 hours and the only movement on the mountain was downwards, so everyone took the opportunity to relax and acclimatize with the occasional foray out to clear the building snow from the tents.
Saturday morning saw the decision to return to base camp, regain our strength and assess what the weather was likely to be doing, everyone made good time back to base camp through the heavy snowfall and were greeted by the welcoming aroma of chips.
19th September: Stu rang today with an update. The team are now at Camp 1 and spending the night there. They celebrated Pete’s arrival last night by watching the Great Gatsby Dvd in the mess tent!
The weather has been ok today, quite cloudy, which the team were glad of as it gets very hot in the sun. The trek in up to now has been exceptionally hot and humid and has provided challenging trekking with up to 40 degree temperatures! As a result, they are happy to now be in a cooler environment.
There are a few other teams around, but most are a few days ahead so are further up the mountain. Stu and the group plan to go up to Camp 2 tomorrow which takes about 4 hours, and involves crossing ladders and negotiating several steep sections, and then they will return to Camp 1 for the night. They will then go down to Base Camp next day to recover.
The weather forecast indicates that the weather may change tomorrow, bringing a little snow, so they will be keeping an eye on it and will make any adjustments to the itinerary accordingly.
18th September: Today we had our Puja which was an epic and even required the sherpa staff and the llama to stop for lunch and carry after, about 4 hours in total. Pete also arrived today and managed to catch the last hour :o) of the Puja. So now the team is at last complete.
The plans for the next few days are to head back up to Camp 1 tomorrow and stay the night. We will then go up and touch Camp 2 at 6200m the next day and drop back and sleep at Camp 1 again. Then head down to BC for a couple of days rest.
17th September: The team went up and touched camp 1 yesterday at a height of 5780m and got back in time for lunch at 2pm. It was very hot on the glacier but conditions were good under foot. Most of the route is fixed with rope, but only really necessary if we have a big dump of snow. So far there has been very little snow, 1 inch in the early hours of the 17th but that cleared pretty quickly when the sun hit it.
13th September: We walked up to 4250m on the route to Base camp to get some more acclimatisation before heading up to base camp today. We are now getting settled in Base camp at a height of 4850m.
9th September: We have now arrived at Samergon ahead of schedule as the trek was quicker than we expected. It was a great trek up the valley with dramatic steep sided walls which completely stopped all Satellite signal over the last few days.
We plan on having one or two rest days now depending on when the Sherpas go up to set up Base Camp but they are agreeing a date for the Puja first.
The team are all happy and with the gentle graduation we are all feel healthy with good appetites and no headaches so far. As we climb higher the temperature is dropping and cloud coming over.
Pete the final member of the team hasn’t caught up with us yet but should arrive any day now.
8th September: Well we eventually arrived at Arughat after 3 hours on very muddy and bumpy roads much to the relief of the team and staff. Jim had his birthday the day we drove over and was very impressed at one of the cook boys guessing him to be 3 years older than he actually is :o).
We sorted out the kit for the mules which would go on ahead to Samurgon and then had lunch before setting off on our first days trek to Soti Khola at 13:45. What can I say for the weather this time of year it’s monsoon, we started out in 40 Deg C heat and it’s humid so in no time we were saturated. We had to make a river crossing at the second river junction where some children were playing. Jim was all smug because he’d just bought some flip flops in Arughat and everyone else had sent their flip flops on with their baggage to Samurgon. So we made our crossing and Jim managed to lose one of his flip flops in the river, thankfully one of the children came to his rescue and saved it before it joined the raging torrent of the main river, much to the hilarity of the rest of the team. Anna also managed to lose a sock in the river and no one was able to retrieve it. Thankfully the next village which was only 500m away do a roaring trade in socks…
By 16:50 the monsoon weather came in good and proper with a good old torrential down pour for an hour and a half. We trekked a further 40 minutes and stopped at Khorsni Bari. The mountains around the trail are very high and block any chance of getting a satellite signal on the phone.
We continued our journey stopping at: Machha Khola, Jaghat, Deng, Namrung & Samurgon. Each day the temperature got a bit more bearable as we gained height and we didn’t receive any further downpours while we were trekking.
At Samurgon we were finally able to get Satcoms to report in. We ended up having 3 nights at Samurgon due to a back log in kit needing transporting up the mountain for teams who were ahead of us. This was no big problem as it allowed for more acclimatisation before moving to base camp. The first day after arriving the sherpas took us to the Samurgon Monastery for a blessing from the lama. We also walked/fought our way up to a ridge a 3700m to get some height gain and a nice view point of the glacier coming down from Manaslu BC.
7th September: The team are now at Jaghat. Their location is in a very deep, steep sided valley. Every is feeling good and feeling fit and happy plus eating well. When they reach a better reception hotspot for the sat comms he will check in again, shortly. Pete Brittleton will also be joining up with the team in the next couple of days.
6th September: We have just left the and met up with our Sherpas bus and started the journey at 7:50 am. We didn’t get too far as we came across a big traffic jam due to road works with just over two hour delay. We then stopped at Majimtar for lunch at 12 noon then on to Dhading where the Sherpa bus is unloaded in to a truck for the journey to Arughat. 15 minutes into the Bumpiest off road journey in the world the Driver managed to crack the rear differential which started leaking oil so we had to return to Dhading for some welding etc 45 minutes later we were on our way again.
An hour and a half in we hit another problem. another truck had broke it’s axel! and was completely blocking the route we were destined not to reach Arughat today. It was now dark and they reckoned it would be at least 5 hours before it would be fixed. So it was decided to go back to the nearest village, Jyamrun. This was easier said than done in a huge truck on a single boggy dirt track with a precipice on one side of the road but thanks to the skill of our drivers and a 15 point turn we made it back safely for some late night dhal bat.
4th September: Started the day with a light breakfast and then straight into kit checks followed by clients meeting the staff . Climbing Sherpas Lakhpa, Pasang and Phurba, cook Rosan and base camp manager Shiva. The clients then had bit of time for exploring Thamel and buying the last few essentials like dvds for the base camp entertainment… Hopefully it won’t be the godfather trilogy like I had on the flight over here;-)
I went to the ministry for the expedition briefing formalities and had my photo taken with the tourism minister for one of the local papers. I also met or liaison officer for our trip, it’s also his first trip to Manaslu and apparently we will actually see him at Base Camp. Things have tightened up a bit since the incident on Everest with the Sherpas and Mr Steck. They’re just concerned about negative publicity comes out of these things. The ministry say there are 6 teams on Manaslu this year but I’ve heard from other sources it could be more like 12. After the briefing we also did the team shop at the super market for some goodies for the Hill and really nice treats for Base Camp. Simon arrived today just in time for a quick kit check before heading out for our evenings entertainment at a Nepali cultural evening. With dancers performing routines from different regions of Nepal and local cuisine. All very pleasant some pics attached, apologies for the quality lighting not great my camera.
Now I have just got to do my final bit of packing for our 8 hour journey to Araghat tomorrow. It sounds like we will need to change buses at some point due to the monsoon road conditions along the way. From there we begin our 9 day trek into Base Camp starting at the very low, almost British heights, of 600m so 4200m of ascent just to Base Camp. So it will be hot hot hot for the first few days but quite a gradual height gain. All the team are looking forward to the off at 7am tomorrow.
2nd September: The team will arrive in Kathmandu where they will be busy shopping in Thamel for any last minute items, and taking in the many sights and temples in the surrounding areas.