Friday, March 27, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Goodbye Samuli Mansikka

I lead treks and expeditions everywhere in the world and share the mountain experience with groups and climbers with maybe less background. I love that, but still I consider climbing the 8000ers alone as my time-off. It gives me time to look back at my life, live in the moment and plan the upcoming.” - Samuli Mansikka

He was a true mountain man. 35 climbing/trekking/guiding expeditions all around the world in past 10 years are a depiction of his passion for mountains. He bagged his 10th eight-thousander Annapurna couple of days ago. News of his loss on Annapurna traumatized the climbing community. Here are few comments from fellow climbers/friends about the finest Finnish climber of this age.

- “There are some people who seem to live charmed lives and you think they will survive no matter what. Sammy was one of these for me,” says British climber Mark Horrell, who was with Samuli on Cholatse this fall.

- “I climbed Alpamayo and K2 with Sammy. I climbed almost beside Sammy from the High Camp to the summit, him with no Os. I could barely keep up. His competence, sense of humor and grin will be sorely missed by all.” Alan Arnette wrote on his blog from USA.

- “Very sad day; my mate Samuli Mansikka died after summiting Annapurna. Not often you meet such a nice guy in life and he will be missed.Tweeted fellow climber Gavin Vickers.

- “A promising career crushed when Spring was just about to start…” climber and mountaineering historian Bob A. Schelfhout Aubertijn quoted in a Facebook post.

- “We had plans to attempt the North Ridge of Ama Dablam, just the two of us, after the Junkies Manaslu expedition and when Sammy had finished with his trekking groups in the fall, but now the project doesn’t seem worthwhile anymore.
I am in Kathmandu getting ready for our Everest expedition and we had already started planning the Annapurna summit party on the Junkies office roof for when he returned to Kathmandu in a few days. For all those climbers who knew and climbed with Sammy in the past, raise a glass to him tonight, as you know he would want you to.” Altitude Junkies expedition leader Phil Crampton wrote in his obituary note.

Samuli Mansikka with a trekking group at Annapurna BC in Autumn 2013. He regularly led trekking expeditions to the region.

Samuli Mansikka’s Eight-Thousanders:-
1. Cho Oyu (2006, 2008, without O2)
2. Lhotse (2008, with supplemental oxygen)
3. Everest (2009, with supplemental oxygen)
4. Manaslu (2009, without O2)
5. G II (2010, without O2)
6. Dhaulagiri (2011, without O2)
7. Makalu (2013, without O2)
8. Kangchenjunga (2014, without O2)
9. K2 (2014, without O2)
10. Annapurna (2015, without O2, died on descent)
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Spring 2015 | Trouble on Annapurna!

Not everything seems alright on Annapurna, as Base Camps talks about arranging a rescue mission for yesterday's summiteers. However, no further details about the cause and dimension of trouble on the mountain are available as of now. Recall that 13 climbers had reached Annapurna's summit at around 02:45pm local time, yesterday.

Image source

Australian/New Zealander Chris Jensen Burke wrote from Base Camp just a while ago, “A rescue initiative is being launched for some of yesterday's (24th March) summit team with Dreamers. Lakpa and I are too low to reach the members but Lakpa has been in contact with the company several times and they are hoping the weather will hold for a heli evac. Wishing a safe descent for all involved.

She further mentions that “at 2.10pm Nepal time, Dreamers have advised that a heli evac is no longer required suggesting that all are well enough to descend on their own, though sadly there are two unconfirmed fatalities.

Chris Burke, Lakpa Sherpa and team of Spaniard Carlos Soria were expected to leave BC today for a possible summit day on May 29th. However, they may have delayed the summit push due to rescue efforts.

Update-1 / 25-03-15 : 06:45pm Nepal Time
Multiple news sources (abcNews, Chron etc.) are confirming two casualties on the mountain. The information comes from Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha. "Attempts were being made to bring the bodies of Samuli Mansikka, 36, and Pemba Sherpa, 35, back to the base camp from the 7,000-meter (22,290-foot) point where they were found," Nepalese official was quoted.

Update-2 / 25-03-15 : 07:45pm Nepal Time
A message from Samuli Mansikka's family confirms the departure of Finnish climber. "Samuli Mansikka on Wednesday afternoon, according to information received, died due to a fall while descending after successful Annapurna summit."

Rest in peace, dear friend. (See update-3)

Update-3 / 25-03-15 : 09:30pm Nepal Time
There seems to be some new development on the mountain. "According to the newest information Samuli is missing. Additional information will be given later on through his website." tweets Samuli Mansikka's family who previous informed about Finnish climber's demise. "There are so far a lot of confusion."

Hope dies last and in the mountain, we have already witnessed 'dead men' walking to Base Camps after defying all odds. Let's keep our fingers crossed for safe return of Samuli and Pemba.

Update-4 / 26-03-15 08:00am Nepal Time
Iranian climber Reza Shahlaee messaged ‘koohnevesht’ about his safety and wellbeing at around 1600hrs, yesterday. He said that they were back in C4 (7000m) after spending a night at 7400m and will be returning to Base Camp, soon.

Meanwhile, Nepalese Tourism Ministry released a press statement confirming the unfortunate loss of Samuli Mansikka and Pemba Sherpa. Report says that they went missing at around 7100m on March 24th and their bodies have been recovered (or found) from 7000m, yesterday (March 25th).

Press release from Department of Tourism (click to enlarge)

Update-5 / 26-03-15 04:30pm Nepal Time
Temba Tsheri Sherpa, Managing Director at Dreamers Destination Treks and Expeditions, has just updated about current status on the mountain through a Facebook post. "Remaining team members are still descending down. They will not able to reach base camp today. Hopefully they will spend one more night in camp I and descend to base camp tomorrow. They are psychically and mentally down. God please give them power to over come."

Fingers crossed for safety of everyone. Strength to family and friends of deceased climbers.

Update-6 / 26-03-15 11:55pm Nepal Time
Another update from Temba Tsheri Sherpa: Climbers have finally started reaching Base Camp.

"Just got a call from Nima Gyalzen Sherpa at Annapurna BC now. He told me that he has just reached BC with three Chinese (Zhang Liang, Liu Honszhong, Hong Jing Doeg). Mingma G. Sherpa, Anggeli Sherpa, Zdravko Dejanovic and Reza Shahlaee are also about to reach BC. Muharrem Aydin Irmak  and Gimaongchu Sherpa stayed at C2. They will be descending early morning, tomorrow. Nima will go up again to clean up the camps."

Meanwhile, Carlos Soria has also retreated from C1 to BC as weather deteriorates. He climbed to C1 yesterday, hoping for a summit push on March 29th.

Post will be updated as further information reaches us.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring 2015 | First Summits of the Season on Annapurna

End of March generally marks the start of climbing expeditions in Nepal. It’s when climbers from all around the world arrive in Kathmandu. Dreamers Destination team will also be reaching Kathmandu on March 28th. But they will be returning to Nepalese capital after success ascent of notoriously dangerous Annapurna. Utilizing the stable snow conditions in pre-Spring season, 13 climbers topped the mountain this afternoon.


Seven members and six Sherpa reached the summit at around 02:45pm local time, today. Here is the list of summiteers as confirmed by Temba Tsheri Sherpa, Managing Director at Dreamers Destination Treks and Expeditions.

1. Zhang Liang (China)
2. Liu Honszhong (China)
3. Mrs Hong Jing Doeg (China)
4. Samuli Mansikka (Finland)
5. Muharrem Aydin Irmak (Turkey)
6. Zdravko Dejanovic (Macedonia)
7. Reza Shahlaee (Iran)
8. Mingma G. Sherpa (Nepal - expedition leader)
9. Anggeli Sherpa (Nepal)
10. Ngima Ongchhu Sherpa (Nepal)
11. Pemba (Nepal)
12. Kazi Sherpa (Nepal)
13. Nima Gyalzen Sherpa (Nepal)

(*Names/spellings of Chinese climbers are updated)

Team in Kathmandu before start of expedition; Source
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Spring 2015 | Annapurna Climbers on Final Summit Push! (Update: SUMMITs)

Latest updates from the mountain depict that summit push is going forth on Annapurna as planned and Dreamers Destination expedition climbers may well have left for the top from C4 (7000m), a while ago. Climbing conditions on the mountain have been described as “very good” and weather is said to be “spectacular!”.


At camp 4 (7000m) on Annapurna North-face! Spectacular!” Finnish climber Samuli Mansikka tweeted on Monday night. He is part of international team consisting of three climbers from China, Iranian Reza Shahlaee, Macedonian Zdravko Dejanovic, Turkish-American Muharrek Aydin Imrak and five Nepalese Sherpa (Mingma G. Sherpa, Anggeli Sherpa and three others). As per communication from Nepal, they are targeting summit today.

The team reached Annapurna BC in first week of March and has made few acclimatization trips to C2. Idea was to benefit from pre-spring stable snow conditions. Weather is predicted to remain good till start of April when bad weather starts dumping snow on the mountain. Dreamers Destination team left BC for the summit on March 20th. Spaniard Carlos Soria’s team, who are currently resting at BC, will be starting summit-bid later this week.

Mingma G. Sherpa and Zdravko Dejanovic were on Annapurna last spring as well, when dangerous climbing conditions thwarted their summit push. Couple of weeks later, Romanian climbers had to be rescued from the mountain after another failed attempt in difficult conditions. There were no summits on Annapurna in 2014. Year 2013 is marked by two remarkable ascents from South side of the mountain (by Ueli Steck and by French duo Stephane Benoist and Yannick Graziani).

Update-1 | 1530hrs Nepal Time

“All members and Sherpa are on top of Annapurna,” Mingma G. Sherpa just called Temba Tsheri Sherpa in Kathmandu to confirm the team’s success. List of summiteers will be updated as we receive further information.

This post will be updated as more information reaches us from the mountain. You may follow quick updates on Twitter and Facebook.
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring 2015 | Annapurna: First Summit Push of the Season Begins

Mingma G. Sherpa and Anggeli Sherpa of Dreamers Destination expedition were hoping to complete route fixing till C4 today, while other members were expected to reach C3 this afternoon. As per communication from mountain, the group will be trying to reach the top in next couple of days. Meanwhile, Spaniard Carlos Soria has completed the acclimatization and will be launching summit bid at the end of this month. Climbers from other expeditions have also started reaching BC.

Dreamers Destination Summit Push
Samuli Mansikka, Mingma G. Sherpa, Anggeli Sherpa , Reza Shahlaee, Muharrek Aydin Imrak and Zdravko Dejanovic were first to reach Annapurna this season. After arriving at BC in first week of March, the climbers made multiple acclimatization trips to C2.

Finnish climber Samuli Mansikka wrote from BC on March 18th, “Slept at Camp 2 (5700m) last night and was planning to climb to Camp 3 (6500m) today. Got to the base of the headwall where Sherpa-guides of different teams were starting to fix it. Then I, being the sissy I am, got distracted by the closing weather and decided to retreat to Base Camp.

Annapurna; Source

On March 19th, high wind halted the Sherpa team’s progress to C3. However, following day they were able to set up C3. Other members of the expedition ascended to C2 on Mar 20th and climbed to C3 today.

Today’s update from Samuli Mansikka reads, “Annapurna showed today that it really is dangerous! There's this one hanging glacier and couloir that wants to kill you! Shoot a fair size avalanche on us today. Didn't hit but dusted us good! Anyway got through the icefall and am now at above 6700m looking at Dhaulagiri!

Depending upon weather conditions, the climbers are planning to launch final summit-bid in next couple of days.

Dreamers destination team members in Kathmandu; Source

Carlos Soria
76 years old Spanish climber Carlos Soria returned to BC after spending a night in C1 and two in C2. He has now completed the acclimatization process and will be launching a summit attempt at the end of this month.

With the arrival of spring this weekend, good weather window on Annapurna seems to be extended until the end of March. Therefore Carlos Soria and his colleagues decided to return to Base Camp, to regain strength for the final attack to take place in the coming days,” wrote the Base Camp team. “Annapurna is in very good condition.”


Chris Burke
Chris Burke and Lakpa Sherpa reached  BC in second week of March and have started acclimatization process.

After 5 days at Annapurna Base Camp (4100m) and acclimatization to 4600m, Lakpa and I will be loading up to move to Camp 1 today (18 March) followed by a move up to Camp 2 and we will spend 3-4 days on this rotation,” Chris Burke wrote from Base Camp.


More Teams
Around three dozen climbers and mountain guides are expected to be on Annapurna this season. While many of them are already on the mountain, others will be reaching the mountain soon. American climber Alex Barber tweeted yesterday, “24 hrs till I fly to Nepal for an attempt on Annapurna I (8091m).”

On the other hand, Turkish climber Tunc Findik has decided not to attempt Annapurna, this season. He changed his mind after observing excessive snow and avalanches while trekking in the region.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring 2015 | Early Birds Have Reached Mountains

Calendar winter season ends in less than a week. After some remarkable attempts on Nanga Parbat, it’s time for action packed spring climbing in Nepal and Tibet. Majority of climbers will be arriving in Kathmandu in a couple of weeks, whereas some early birds are already on the mountains.

Simone Moro’s Change in Plans
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger arrived at Manaslu BC at around mid-February, hoping for a quick late winter ascent of main summit and east pinnacle. They were welcomed by white-out conditions and accumulated snow of 2 meters at Base Camp. During a short good weather window, they established C1 at 5700m and worked on the route till 5900m. But a long spell of continuous snow forced them to abandon the Base Camp.

Snow at Manaslu BC that forced Simone and Tamara to leave the camp; Source

The team reported continuous snow for multiple days. Avalanches were coming down from all directions and one of them almost reached BC. “We should get out of here as soon as possible,” Tamara Lunger and Simone Moro concluded. However, instead of flying back home, the two climbers decided to stay in Nepal and return to the mountain once snow conditions improve.

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are currently in Khumbu valley training for upcoming Manaslu attempt.

Simone and Tamara in Khumbu Valley; Source

Searching for Stable Conditions on Annapurna
Climbers have arrived at Annapurna Base Camp to benefit from stable conditions before excessive snow gets dumped in spring. First team - Samuli Mansikka, Mingma G. Sherpa, Reza Shahlaee, Muharrek Aydin Imrak and Zdravko Dejanovic - reached BC in first week of March. Spanish climber Carlos Soria arrived a week later.

After multiple days of snow, first group was eventually able to start the climb on March 9th. Samuli Mansikka tweeted that afternoon, “After 4-5 hrs of wading in knee-deep snow I am at Camp 1 at 5100m!” They spent the night in C1. A couple of days later, climbers rose to C2 (5650m) and spent a night there. The climbers remained stuck at Base Camp due to bad weather. “Snowing at Annapurna BC,” Mansikka wrote on March 15th.

Update: Seems like climbers are on the rise again. Samuli Mansikka wrote just a moment ago, "Pure hell climbing from BC to C2 today! Waist-deep snow and full white-out! My tent had to be probed to be found a good 2m under snow! Were today hoping to fix halfway to C3 (6500m) with Mingma's crew. Getting to C2 (5700m) took all day."

Carlos Soria has also started acclimatization process. After first rotation to C1, he returned to BC. Soria is positive about a quick summit push on Annapurna and move on to second eight-thousander of the season, Dhaulagiri, in April. "If it goes well, we will be at the top of Annapurna in 15 days."

Carlos Soria (right) at Annapurna BC; Source

More Action Coming Soon
Majority of spring climbing expeditions are still finalizing their preparations for early April arrivals at BCs. Watch out this space for more intriguing climbs to Everest (new route and speed attempt), Makalu, Manaslu, Lhotse and Shishapangma.
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