Manaslu, Nepal. 8,156m.
Our Puja site at Manaslu Base Camp
Our Base Camp Mess Tent
High Camp 1
Crevasse ladder crossing
Camp 2, Camp 3 is up behind...
The serac fell from the area circled and triggered the large slab avalanche, the crown wall is clearly visible.
The path of the avalanche, the camps are marked.
The team I was leading consisted of 2 Sherpas and 2 members and myself. We had moved from camp to camp up the mountain on the days leading up to the accident. We arrived in camp 3 on the 22nd, our tents went up and kit was stored, the plan was to spend the night at camp 3 for our acclimatisation and then drop to Base Camp on the 23rd for a rest before our summit attempt. However, our plan took a last minute change.... One of the team members woke with a headache at camp 2, it had not improved during the day and by the afternoon of the 22nd we made the decision that the member should not go higher, and then soon after we decided to descend to Base Camp in-case the headache should worsen into the night and become more serious. Headaches at altitude can be an early sign of altitude sickness (AMS) and potentially a Cerebral Oedema (HACE) so are taken seriously... Following this decision the Sherpa team and other member agreed to descend as well from camp 3 so we could re-group in Base Camp and make a plan for our continued attempt. We made it to Base that evening. The following day we woke early to the sound of radios buzzing with messages and the call had come in for help, the avalanche having hit camp 3 during the night.
Flattened tents at Camp 2, our tents were gone
The day that followed was a day of confusion. We took our stretcher and medical supplies along with oxygen and a respirator to the heli pad where the casualties were coming in and needed help. Following this was the recovery of the bodies, 2 were not found before the initial search was called off.
Helicopter shipping casualties back to Base Camp
The Pinnacle false summit from the icefall on route to Camp 2
Our team needless to say felt very lucky, a headache changing the course of things. We lost 2 camps and a lot of kit. We replaced the equipment over the following days and made the decision to go back up the mountain to see how things would pan out as regards a continued summit attempt. On the day when we moved to camp 2 the decision was made to finish the expedition due to a few reasons, too much kit to go up with an imminent weather window and no time for carries being the main one.
Dendi Sherpa with a big load during the attempt to re-stock the high camps
The memories of the trip as a whole will off-course be mixed due to the large loss of life that took place on Manaslu this year. That said, the mountain still offered some great days before the accident and the 10 days of trekking take you through a fantastic journey up one of the less trafficed valleys of Nepal. Starting in warm tropical forests and finishing at Samaguan at the toe of the Manaslu Glacier is a fantastic journey in its own right.
Shrine in Kathmandu
The road to Arughat and the start of the trek to Manaslu
Mules transporting our kit to Samaguan
End of the day in Lho
Back in Kathmandu for a rest
Thoughts go out to the families and many affected by this accident and to the family and friends of Dawa Sherpa, our Sherpa on last years Baruntse Expedition, a top Sherpa and great person to have had with us in the past.
Dawa Sherpa on the left and his friend Sonam, Mera Peak 2011.