Autumn 2014 | First Summit Attempt on Manaslu and Proteins Kidnapped

It’s the fourth week of fall climbing season and some climbers/teams have now attained the required level of acclimatization for summit attempts. Last week, a summit push on Shishapangma was thwarted because of excessive snow above C3. Andrea Zambaldi, Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag - the Double 8 team - were forced to retreat from 7700m. On descent, they passed on the news of bad conditions to Nicole and Ueli Steck, who were also aiming for the top. Both teams will be heading up again, for second summit push, starting tomorrow. (update: It appears that climbers left Base Camp, today)

The colors of Manaslu BC; Photo: Marcin Kin of Andrzej Bargiel Ski Expedition

Geographically, Shishapangma is located in a large wind gap region, which results in short and few good weather periods. Contrarily, some other eight-thousanders like Manaslu and Cho Oyu offer multiple day summit windows in fall season. One such opportunity is available now, as first group of climbers is on Manaslu summit-bid. British-American explorer Vanessa O'Brien tweeted yesterday evening, “Summit bid underway. Just reached Camp 2.” Vanessa is part of HimEx team.

Sherpa from Altitude Junkies and Himalyan Experience have been fixing the route on Manaslu this season. They even fixed ladders on some crevasses between C1 and C3. Some people think that this may serve as a good practice ground for clients who are planning to climb Everest, in future. The route had previously been fixed to “within 500m (of rope) and 100m (vertical) from C4 at 7,440m.” It appears that Sherpa will be leading the rope-fixing ahead of summit-push team.

A climber heading towards C2. A fixed ladder can also be seen; Source

Manaslu is known for ice avalanches between C2 and C3. Russell Brice, HimEx expedition leader, wrote from BC on September 21st, “Speaking of avalanches, 4 nights ago the ice cliffs that triggered the major avalanche in 2012 released again, causing an avalanche almost as big as the one in 2012, coming right down the upper slopes and passed about 100 meters away from C2.”

He continued, “I had already noted that this was still active earlier this year before we had arrived at BC. Like in 2012 our C2 was situated on a small rise in the local terrain and with 2 large crevasses between us and the normal slide path. As we were the only people on the mountain at the time, this latest avalanche went largely unnoticed by most, as opposed to when teams were camped right in the slide path in 2012.”

Climbers have climbed till C3 for acclimatization; Source

The one-man team, Alex Barber, is also heading for the summit. He was expected to leave Base Camp today and make it to the top on 26th. “I do not plan to stop at camp 2 on purpose because the entire area around camp 2 is unstable and dangerous,” says the American climber.

About weather forecast, he writes that “there is a general trend … starting Thursday the 25th to Sunday the 28th looks like it might be a decent window for my summit day. The 25th being the worst day with 30+mph winds at the peak. Saturday, the 27th, is forecast to have 5 to 10mph winds but possibly precipitation.”

French climbers Franck Candelier, Purna bahadur Tamang and Jean-François Durazzo reached C1 yesterday and are ascending to C2, today. Depending upon conditions, they may also try to reach the summit in current weather window.

Finally, there hasn't been any update from Altitude Junkies team recently, but they may also be heading for summit, now.

Proteins kidnapped

Not uncommon on “commercial” eight-thousanders these days, Italian and French climbers are reporting food-gone-missing from their tents on the mountain. Four-man Italian team called the theft of dried yak meet and cheese from C1 tents as, “proteins kidnapped!”

A bag of food that certainly can't be open, emptied (and closed again) by crows; Source

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