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2010 Manaslu Expedition dispatches

Run by Project Himalaya and Altitude Junkies

See Phil's site for up-to-date Manaslu expedition dispatches.

Current forecast by Mountain Meteo Services - thanks!

Dispatch #1 – August 29, 2009 – Kathmandu

Welcome to the expedition dispatches from the Altitude Junkies Manaslu expedition. Our team members are now starting to arrive in soggy Kathmandu in anticipation of our beautiful trek towards base camp on September 1st.

Our expedition team this year consists of the following climbers.

Phil Crampton (UK/USA)
Steve Faloutico (USA)
Paul Ilacqua (USA)
Samuli Mansikka (Finland)
Brenden Savage (Australia)
Margaret Watroba (Australia)

Our old friend Samuli Mansikka is joining our expedition and will be climbing independently above base camp. Sam is a professional guide and President of the Finnish Alpine Club.

The following climbing Sherpas will be assisting the expedition.

Pasang Gumba Sherpa (Sirdar)
Tarke Sherpa
Mindu Sherpa

The following Sherpas will be running our kitchen on the trek and at base camp.

Phurba Sarki Sherpa (Head Cook)
Da’Pasang Sherpa
Sherku Sherpa

Once again we need to say a big thank you to the ingenious folks at Brunton. We will be using the new Solo 15 battery in association with their Solaris 52 solar panel for all our portable power needs on the trek to base camp and at the higher camps.

Hopefully you will follow our progress with our regular expedition dispatches.

Phil Crampton

L-R: Da'Pasang, Phil Crampton (rear), Phurba Sarki, Da'Pasang II, Samuli Mansikka, Tarke, Paul Ilacqua, Mindu, Steve Faluotico (back), Margaret Watroba, Sherku, Nima Dendi, Pasang Gombu, Phurwa, Brenden Savage - photo by Jamie

L-R rear: Samuli M, Paul I, Phil Crampon
Front: Margaret W, Brenden S, Steve F - photo by Jamie

Dispatch #9 – September 28, 2009 – Base Camp

The three of our group that made the summit on the 27th are all now down safe at base camp. They will rest here for a couple of days here before we all make the short descent to Sama Goan.

We have to state some facts that have just come to light about the summit day. The Sherpas who were working for the Chinese team fixed the rope on the final summit ridge. This included around 120 meters of 6 mm rope that we carried up to camp four.

Samuli has showed us photos of where the fixed rope ended which was around 30 meters linear and 15 meters vertical short of the true summit. He was the last and only climber who went slightly passed the fixed rope on the 27th. Both Samuli and Pasang Gumba said the conditions beyond where the fixed rope ended were unsafe for further travel along the ridge to the true summit. Going on Samuli’s reports no climbers reached the true summit on the 27th.

We just want to state that our climbers did not claim the true summit but I stated the summit was reached based on radio transmissions that I had with our Sherpas on summit day. The Altitude Junkies climbers reached a point past the fore summit but were 30 meters linear and 15 meters vertical short of the true summit. We apologize if we mislead anybody with our summit claims.

Our porters will be leaving Kathmandu in a day’s time so hopefully we will start the four-day trek to Arughat as soon as possible. From Arughat it is a days drive to Kathmandu where we are looking forward to hotel beds and cold beer.

We are pleased that our second expedition to Manaslu was successful as was the first expedition last year. The members who didn’t summit made wise decisions to turn around and after all, the mountain will always be here for them if they decide to return in the future.

Phil Crampton


Dispatch #8 – September 27, 2009 – Base Camp

The summit push was safe and successful. As we have not posted a dispatch for a few days we will list our progress day by day.

On the 23rd, Steve, Brenden, Margaret, myself assisted by Mindu, Tarke and Pasang Gumba Sherpa all departed base camp for the summit push. Paul had experienced a slower acclimatization schedule than on his previous expeditions, so he decided to stay at base camp and assist Sarki Sherpa in his base camp manager duties.

The climb to camp one was uneventful except for the solo traveling climber from another expedition I saw fall off a snow bridge into a crevasses. The Sherpas and I assisted him with his extraction and he was on his way.

We climbed to camp two on the 24th with no drama and the weather stuck to it’s forecast and provided us with a beautiful, but hot day.

Brenden experienced another long day to camp two and decided, wisely, that his mild AMS was not going to get better. He described himself as feeling crook as a dog, this we think means unwell in Aussie talk. The rest of us continued the climb to camp three and he descended to base camp with Tarke Sherpa as we still enforced the rule of no unroped solo travel on the glacier, especially after what we had witnessed a couple of days prior.

The morning of the 26th Steve decided that after two sleepless nights at camp two and three respectively, camp three at 6,800 meters would be his high point of the expedition. It was a tough decision for him be he decided he would not be able to sleep higher and wanted to descend to base camp.

We decided Pasang Gumba and Mindu Sherpa would both continue with Margaret for the summit push. Tarke Sherpa and I, both summitted last season and we wanted every other Sherpa to summit if possible. The three of them made the long climb to camp four at 7,450 meters where they settled in for the evening, getting ready for their alpine start several hours later.

Steve and I descended from camp three to base camp with heavy packs and even heavier disappointment.

Margaret, Samuli and Pasang Gumba Sherpa all summitted at 11am and returned to high camp where they are now resting. They will descend to camp three hopefully later and will return to base camp tomorrow.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #7 – September 20, 2009 – Base Camp

The local weather front that we thought may delay our progress was canceled from our weather experts and we have made more progress up the hill in the past few days.

Our team members have now all slept at camp two with the exception of Paul. His schedule is a few days behind the rest as he has found his acclimatization this time slower than usual. Pasang Gumba Sherpa and Tarke Sherpa have now carried 600 meters of 8mm rope and hardware to camps one and two respectively for the fixing of the route.

The plan is to spend a few days at base camp before leaving on a summit push. We will use the same tactics as last season that saw us reach the true summit. We hope to top out much earlier this year as the weather has been favorable, and hopefully it will continue, fingers crossed.
The route to camp two is a lot more intricate than it was last year. Our expected 3-4 hour climb turned out to be a 3-7 hour climb for our members. Instead of the route being direct it deviates after the first steep pitch and involves switch backing through large crevasses for a couple of hours. Our campsite was placed at 6,500 meters instead of the usual 6,400 meters because of the large crevasses present.
Our climbers are pleased to be able to take some rest at base camp now as we have all been very keen to climb as much as possible and take advantage of the excellent weather so far.

Phil Crampton


Dispatch #6 – September 16, 2009 – Base Camp

We all climbed to camp one again to spend the night on the 15th with the exception of Paul. He decided he wanted a few more days at base camp to further his acclimatization before going higher.

The weather was good this morning so Steve, Brenden and myself decided to explore the route to camp two. Adrian and Hiro, the guides from Himex, fixed rope on the route yesterday and continued today, hopefully finishing the route to camp two. Margaret and Mindu Sherpa descended to base camp immediately after breakfast.

Steve went for around an hour before deciding this was enough for his first time above camp one. Brenden and I continued to the location where Adrian and Hiro were continuing to fix ropes, around 6,200 meters.

We are now all at base camp enjoying our downtime. Our forecast predicts a possible small local front coming in tomorrow for a couple of days, so with us already having slept at camp one, we will take a rest day or two before venturing higher on the hill in a few days time. Our plan is to climb to camp one, then camp two where we will spend a few nights, exploring the route to camp three.

Phil Crampton


Dispatch #5 – September 14, 2009 – Base Camp

Our Puja on Sunday was a short nice ceremony and we all enjoyed the Sherpa traditions that accompany a Puja way too much. One of our members commented that they had never drunk so much beer and whiskey before 9 am.

Today our group of climbers made their first foray onto the mountain and carried loads to camp one. The route is more direct than last year and we had glorious weather all morning. We departed base camp at around 7 am in somewhat strong winds, but these quickly died down and the glacier became very hot indeed. We returned for a late lunch prepared by our great kitchen crew.

We are now deciding what our next move will be depending on the latest weather forecast we receive. We may venture back up to camp one and sleep for a few nights before exploring the route to camp two and hopefully spend a few nights there also. A couple of the guides from the Himex expedition went to explore the route today so we hope to hear good things from them about the conditions.

Phil Crampton


Dispatch #4 – September 12, 2009 – Base Camp

We are now settled in at our base camp which lies at an elevation of 4,900 meters. Our base camp is somewhat lower than most of the other 8,000-meter peaks base camps and this is a benefit for our climbers to let their bodies recover quicker after carrying loads higher on the hill.

The Sherpas visited the local Lama in Sama Goan to get his instructions on the most auspicious day to hold our Puja ceremony at base camp. He decided on Sunday, so we will take his advice and hold it tomorrow before we set foot onto the mountain proper.

According to the first group of climbers to reach camp one the other day, the route has less ice than it did last year. The also say that the route to camp two also looks easier although no one has been to this camp yet.

Our group are now addicted to the internet café we have created and the Sherpas have done a great job of establishing a real comfortable base camp.

We will hopefully venture up to camp one to drop loads the day after the Puja if the weather holds. Our forecast looks good for a few days but nothing is certain on Manaslu.

Phil Crampton


Dispatch #3 – September 9, 2009 – Sama Goan

The beautiful trek towards Manaslu finally brought us yesterday to Sama Goan, the last settlement before base camp. The weather conditions started great on our trek in but we received some considerable rainfall yesterday which made the trek very muddy indeed.

We plan to spend another two nights here for cautious acclimatization as it is an elevation gain of 1,400 meters from here to base camp. The team are doing well and catching up with laundry and sending emails and are hoping to get their first proper glimpse of Manaslu soon as it has been shrouded in clouds since we arrived at Sama Goan.

Tarke Sherpa went up to check on our base camp site today and tomorrow we will send the first batch of local porters to carry loads. The team will then head up the following day with more porters and the kitchen crew.

Phil Crampton


Dispatch #2 – September 2, 2009 – Arughat

We finally made it to Arughat today. The Sherpas from Himalayan Experience kindly informed us on Sunday that the road to Arughat was in a bad condition and that buses and trucks were unable to drive as far as hoped. We had the same problem last season so it was not much of a surprise and we expected to have to trek the last few hours to Arughat.

Half hour after the buses, three of them in all from Kathmandu, had dropped off our 6 members, 6 Sherpas, 4 trekking cooks and 100 porters it was time to establish camp for the evening roughly 5 hours from our intended destination. Leaving early today we arrived at Arughat mid afternoon, but due to the large volume of porters were unable to go any further.

Tomorrow we plan to trek to Soti Khola as planned and then follow our intended schedule. The weather so far has seen little rain but very hot temperatures. I think the team are very grateful that we can still find cold beer in Arughat for this evenings dinner.

Phil Crampton

Thanks for all your support.

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