Autumn 2015 | Manaslu Summits and Death, Rock falls Thwarts Annapurna South Face Expedition, Makalu’s Over

here have been some fruitful days on Manaslu as more than 80 climbers topped between September 30th and October 2nd. The summits follow retreat of some major commercial expeditions on the mountain like Himex, Altitude Junkies and Adventure Consultants who led the progress until then. Dangerous climbing conditions and bad weather were major reasons for expedition cancellations. The summit teams found fair conditions during climb, though.

Apart from Seven Summit Treks, successful teams on Manaslu include Summit Climb, Amical Alpin, Kobler Partner, Ascent Himalaya and some local operators like Thamserku Trekking, Active Holiday Nepal Treks and Himalayan Guides Nepal Treks.

The Himalayan Times, however, also report a casualty on the mountain. As per Nepalese newspaper, a member of Summit Climb team perished near C4 on Thursday night. The deceased climber has been identified as Austrian Zoltan Benedek, who reached the summit on Wednesday.

“Benedek’s partner Jean-Luc from France had to be rescued from Camp IV to Camp III on Friday morning and was flown by helicopter from 6,800 m. Both climbers were climbing without any support above base camp,” THT quoted Seven Summits team leader Arnold Coster.
Manaslu: Jean Luc and Zoltan making breakfast in Camp 1 earlier this season. It's reported that the two climbers had a tough descent and Zoltan unfortunately passed away near C4; Photo: Summit Climb

Annapurna South Face
On Annapurna South Face, French summit push has been thwarted by excessive rock falls. Considering warm temperatures and unfavorable weather forecast, the team has now decided to abandon the expedition. They will start the return journey from today.

“It's been four days since we see the face dry. The beautiful ice chutes have given way to the walls of unstable rubble.” The climbers noted at the start of their summit-bid earlier this week.

The team went up with gear and food for five days. They started early to avoid rock falls and left BC at 1am. By sunrise, they reached the first bivouac site at around 5800m without any major difficulty. The target for following day was to reach 7100m.

However, with sunrise and snowmelt, the mountain face started throwing rocks at an implausible pace. “About thirty minutes after (sunrise), continuous rock fall started right next to our tents. Hard to sleep when every 10 minutes we heard a hissing sound near our bed!

Finally, at around 4pm, calm returned. Our decision was taken. Given the weight of our bag, the actual duration of night refreezing and our degree of acclimatization, it seemed logical not to attempt the ascent of the 1200m altitude difference between us and the next bivouac.” The team wrote in their dispatch.
Annapurna South Face dry and warm on Sept 30th. Photo: French Expedition
First bivouac site; Photo: French Expedition

Makalu
Adrian Ballinger confirms the end of Ski Makalu attempt for this year. “Makalu awaits a ski from its summit. And Ski Makalu 2015 is already dreaming of future objectives.”

It’s reported that Mingma Chhiring Sherpa, a member of summit push party, was caught in an avalanche at around 8000m. He fell some distance, but wasn’t injured seriously. The team, hence, decided to end their summit-bid.
Makalu Team; Photo: Adrian Ballinger
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