On Friday morning we went climbing and it was great! For the first time in two weeks we got closer to the mountain, wore crampons and a harness and were actually using our ice axes – and it just felt right.
We have been at Manaslu base camp for four days now and slowly but surely more and more teams are moving in. Kari Kobler’s Swiss team consisting of about ten people is camped on the top of the hill and a few Spaniards are camped right next to us, which is great as it gives me a good opportunity to improve my Spanish and drink good Spanish coffee. By the looks of it another six to eight teams will be moving in over the next few days and it shall be interesting to see how busy Manaslu will be this season.
Our outing to Camp I was really fun this morning and it made me realise how good it is to be climbing with friends again. Ellen Miller from Vale in the United States, who was climbing Lhotse last year while I was on Everest, is part of the team again and she is like a mentor for me. She is great at concentrating on the mountain and not wasting her energy on other things. “I am here to climb the mountain and all my energy and power needs to go up there,” she said looking up to the beautiful peak of Manaslu.
Ellen is also amazing as she has not only summitted Mount Everest twice – once from the North side in Tibet and once from the South side in Nepal – Cho Oyu and Lhotse, she is actually here to climb Manaslu with two artificial hips. “I am so glad, my hips are feeling great and I have no pain whatsoever,” our bionic woman told me on the way up to Camp I. She summitted Lhotse, the forth highest peak in the world, last year with one titanium hip and now she is back to climb another 8,000m peak with two of those artificial joints. ”I am so glad I have had this done as these new hips enable me to do the things I love doing,” she said excitedly.
She is a real inspiration to me and I am glad to be climbing with her again this season as I am sure she will be the one to encourage me when I am tired or when I think that I have reached the end of my abilities.
And of course there is Monica, Russell’s doctor who I got on really well with on Everest last and this year and we are doing our best to keep up our reputation as the ‘terrible twins’. “Look at the girls, they are visiting different expeditions at base camp again,” Russell called after us when we were climbing up the little hill to visit the Spanish team for a chat.
It is just great to be here and I am feeling very happy to be back in the mountains, even though I think about the situation with the floods in Pakistan quite a lot, however, as our internet use is very restricted and very expensive I do not really know what is going on in the world, or even here in Nepal.
On Friday afternoon we felt a big thump and consequently a big avalanche came down from the ridge near our base camp. At first we thought that it was just a huge rockfall but Russell told us that it was actually an earthquake. However, I have not spoken to anyone in Kathmandu yet and I just hope that the quake did not do any damage in the capital.
On Sunday, the local lama from the nearby village of Samagoan will come up to hold our Puja, the Buddhist ceremony for good luck on the mountain. This means that the Sherpas will feel more comfortable to climb, especially here on Manaslu as it is considered a sacred mountain. “The Manaslu God is very strong and I do not want to do anything that would upset the gods,” our chef Lacchu told me.
After our Puja we will ascend to Camp I again and probably stay for two nights at 5,450m for acclimatisation purposes, and if the weather permits, which is looking very likely at the moment, we will probably tag Camp II at 6,200m on Tuesday.
I hope to be updating this newsletter on a regular basis but as I said before I am also writing the Himex newsletter on www.himex.com so for more news, check out this website.