After a full days rest at base camp we made the journey back to camp 1. Due to big numbers on the mountain, we don’t really want to be on the same rotation as everyone else and are now extremely grateful of our 14 day head start.
The terrain to camp 1 remained straight forward and apart from the team of fixing sherpas and a small team at lower camp 1 we had the camp to ourselves. The following day we made the trip to camp 2 – the crux of the mountain apparently. This involves moving up slopes, over crevasses, under the ice fall and then through the ice fall to the gradient change and then to camp 2. Since we are a small team we had decided to join forces with another small team and work together since we were pretty much on the same programme. For the entire day we didn’t see another sole apart from our small combined team of 6. The cloud rolled in and out and every now and then the sun came out and we instantly wilted. Camp 2 is situated amongst the crevasses but remains sheltered from any wind.
That evening we were treated to amazing views down to the ever growing base camp and of Manaslu herself.
The followed day we decided to head up to Camp 3. To explain, as soon as we had reached the edge of the glacier en route to Camp 1, there have been fixed rope to clip into and follow. So, in reality, it is impossible to ‘get lost’. However, above Camp 2, the rope stops and you have to follow bamboo wands, and where the fixing team of Sherpa’s deem necessary they put in rope. So we left Camp 2 with the cloud rolling in and out just enough to see the 200m spaced bamboo until we got to another steepening and then we were back on the fixed rope. At the top of this, the rope stopped and we are back on the bamboo wands. This in reality is quite unnerving since when the cloud rolls in and you enter the white room, think about walking in a white out on the Cairngorm plateau with huge, and we are speaking about huge, crevasses that are just waiting for you to plop into to never be seen again. Having stretched our legs for the morning, we decided to return to camp 2 and wait for the fixing team to continue marking the route.
The following morning Lakpa arrived with more supplies and as a happy team we returned to base camp. Then as we descended back to base camp our bubble burst with the sudden reality of lots of other people on the mountain. 4 days of hot temperatures have done the fixed ropes absolutely no good and the fixing team have neglected the maintenance of the ropes. Snow stakes frequently pull out along with the melting ice screws that nobody seems to notice. We noticed a huge difference in the quality of the ropes in 4 days, let alone what they will be like in a fortnight.
We are now resting at base camp, thoroughly enjoying Surrendra’s cooking – we were guinea pigs for his new recipes yesterday ?
We are all in good condition with the exception of Phil’s morning cough which will get better now at the lower elevation of base camp and Roberto’s crampon problem has been fixed thanks to our excellent in country agent who managed to get a new pair sent up.
After our initial rainy start to the expedition season we have now had 2 days where is has remained dry and yesterday, dare I say it, the sun actually came out. Yesterday, as the fixing team of Sherpas started to establish the route to Camp 1, we took our first load up to the crampon point. The route is initially through the ever expanding base camp on a ridge, before crossing a short slabby rocky section. After this the angle kicks back and you follow the edge of the glacier over the morraine to the start of the glacier. We have cached a barrel which will be home to our metal work for the next 4 weeks to save energy in carrying them unnecessarily back and forth to base camp.
This morning after another excellent breakfast from Surrender, we had our Puja ceremony which involved throwing rice in the air, banging on a drum, clashing of cymbols, drinking coke and rum and eating. Now that the Puja ceremony has taken place we can start to work the mountain keeping the Gods happy.
This afternoon we sorted our food for the high camps and tomorrow, if the weather permits, we will head up to Camp 1 for the first time. Our plan ideally is to spend one night at C1 and then head up to C2 before returning to base camp.
The team have all acclimitised excellently and are happy chilling at base camp but would obviously be more happy on the mountain proper.
Next update after rotation #1
AP Manaslu Team
There has been a theme the past few days – drizzle, rain, persistent rain, driving rain, wet rain, proper rain and most recently snow. It has rained consistently for 4 days now and today is the first time that we have ventured outside our little camping area.
Having explored the lower valley, it was finally time for us to make the hike up to base camp. We were pretty lucky because we had an early start so it only mizzled on us as we trekked up to base camp and it was only after lunch it properly started to rain. The overhead conditions were better than the underfoot conditions. Mud. Infact mud and a combination of yak and horse poop. We were caked in it by the time we got to base camp. A pair of wellie boots were probably more appropriate if the truth were known. Despite both overhead and underfoot conditions, the trek to base camp was fantastic. Initially through the rhoddedendrons and then up the steep stopes and ridges which took us to base camp.
Base camp is big – which is probably a very good thing judging by the amount of teams that will be attempting Manaslu this season. We didn’t really see much the first couple of days due to the low cloud and rain (have I mentioned that?) and today has been the first opportunity to explore camp. We are somewhere in the middle and every hour it is changing, with tents being erected left, right and centre.
We have yet to see the sun and we are yet to see Manaslu. We are just passing time to be honest, letting our bodies acclimitise. Phil is already on his 4th book and Roberto, who says that he never sleeps back home, has done nothing but sleep. Nothing has happened above base camp as far as we are aware so our progress is hampered until the weather clears up and the mountain can start to be worked upon. Until that happens, we’ll just be chilling out to the best of our abilities.
AP Manaslu Team
Yesterday started off fairly early with our 40 minute flight to Samagon. To say that this was amazing, would be an understatement. Samagon is a small village at the foot of Manaslu, beautiful in many ways. It seems untouched by western influences, how long this will last is another question altogether. We spent yesterday pestering the local kids, or should I say being pestered by the local kids. Their ability to win you over with their snotty, dribbly noses is fascinating. The village seems very quiet but as the expedition season starts to get underway, I am sure that more people will be coming and going. Today, we went for a bimble up one of the side valleys to a waterfall where we could see across the valley to the trail to base camp. All morning Manaslu was shrouded by the cloud despite Roberto saying it would clear.
We are a small team, Di, Phil, Roberto and Lakpa. With the exception of Lakpa, none of the team have been here before so we are having great fun trying to figure out where things are. The cook team are already at base camp setting things up for our imminent arrival.
We plan to spend tomorrow pottering around the valley again, exploring various side valleys, before moving up to base camp on Saturday. Base camp is c.1000m in height gain so we will all feel pretty lousy for a few days as our bodies adjust to the thin air. The joys of high altitude mountaineering.
Next update from the mountain proper ….
AP Manaslu Team
The Adventure Peaks Manaslu Expedition is finally underway. What I should say, is that the team have arrived in Kathmandu. This actually sounds easy but the reality is, that for 2 days we have been travelling from various parts of the UK, via various countries, without much sleep and eating dinner when our bodies are crying out for breakfast and vice versa. We are at various stages of jet lag – Phil winning so far having arrived in country a couple of days earlier. Normally before a big expedition there is loads to do prior to departing civilisation but this time, everything has been organised so well that apart from topping up on hill treats and buying an assortment of drugs we haven’t done much apart from mooch around Thamel and drink pop. Our adventure really starts tomorrow when we fly to Samagon (3360m) where we will spend a few days sucking wind before moving up to establish Base Camp.
Di Gilbert works full time as an Independent Mountaineering Instructor, based in the Cairngorm National Park. She has never had a proper job and it is unlikely that this will change now. Di has stood on the bottom of the world without falling off, she has stood on top of the world without suffering from vertigo, she has climbed the world's 7 summits and completed all 282 Munros.