Dispatches - Manaslu Expedition 2022

September 19, 2022

Adventure Consultants returns to Nepal in style this post monsoon season with an expedition to scale the world's eighth highest mountain, Mount Manaslu (8,163m/26,781ft).

The Adventure Consultants 2022 Manaslu Expedition will begin on August 30, 2022, when our team of climbers will congregate in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The team, led by AC Guide Ang Dorjee Sherpa, will spend seven days trekking into base camp via the Larke Pass (5,213m/17,103ft). On reaching base camp they will turn their attention to climbing the world's 8th highest mountain, Manaslu. The team will climb via the North-East Face along moderately-angled snow slopes before a steep snow arête leads to the summit for magnificent views across the Himalaya.

Regular dispatches will be published here once the expedition starts.

The Adventure Consultants Manaslu 2022 team members are:

Expedition Leader: Ang Dorjee Sherpa, USA/Nepal

Expedition Sirdar: Da Jangbu Sherpa, Nepal

Climbing Sherpa:
Rinjin Sherpa, Nepal
Chhewang Dorji Sherpa, Nepal

Team Member: Lisa Schultz, USA

31 August 2022

The Sights and Sounds of Kathmandu

31 8 Durbar Square 2 Lisa Schultz1 9 Leaving Kathmandu for Besisahar31 8 Durbar Square 3 Lisa Schultz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathmandu is an exciting and vibrant city, a maze of streets and teeming with life, full of colourful sights and sounds. There is a lot to see, even those who have climbed with us many times always find something new to see and do each time they visit this wonderful city. Today Ang Dorjee and Lisa hit the streets of Kathmandu, with the aim of picking up a few last minute items. Fortunately Kathmandu's Thamel shopping area is located not far from the hotel and the seemingly chaotic streets are home to a number of stores that stock quality climbing equipment.

Shopping complete, the team found their way to the UNESCO World Heritage site at Durbar Square. Situated in front of the old Royal Palace, it is one of three Durbar (Palace) Squares located in the Kathmandu Valley, and it's renowned for it's intricate architecture. Lisa had visited Durbar Square back in 2006, and was surprised this visit to see just how well the unreinforced brick buildings had fared during the 2015 earthquakes. Although there is evidence of damage, a large amount of the centuries old architecture remains in remarkable condition.

An early night was then had by all, followed by an early morning with the team (pictured above) ready to start the next leg of their journey. All smiles before heading off on their long day of travel to Besisahar and the start of their trek to Manaslu Base Camp! Stay tuned for more updates soon, from the AC team.

1 September 2022

A Rough Road to Besisahar

1 9 Mukling JunctionIt's been a rough and rugged road to Besisahar for the team today - traffic jams, crater size potholes, slips, rocks and even rivers covering the road - they've seen it all!

Leaving bright and early the trip was relatively smooth travel as they headed west from Kathmandu across the rural countryside. The first obstacle the team encountered was a traffic jam near the Mukling Junction where the road heads towards Besisahar or into Northern India, where a large slip blocked the road and backed traffic up for some distance. Luckily, they were delayed only a short time and continued on towards Besisahar, across numerous streams of water coming over the road and smaller slips resulting in a few hairy moments for the passengers! All of which have made an otherwise long day of travel into a very memorable one - kudos to the team's driver who navigated the rough roads with ease.

Now safely ensconced into the Besisahar hotel for the night, they are looking forward to a shorter drive tomorrow taking them to the the start of their trek. AC Office for Ang Dorjee. 

Photos: Traffic Jams (above), Rural Scenes, Obstacles on the Road and Besisahar (below left to right) Photos by Ang Dorjee Sherpa and Lisa Schultz.

1 9 Rural Green Scene1 9 Rough Road Lisa Schultz1 9 Basisahar Lisa Schultz

30 August 2022 

Welcome to Kathmandu!

30 8 Gear Checks ADThe AC Manaslu 2022 team has converged in Nepal's capital Kathmandu ready for the exciting journey ahead. First up, is equipment checks! An essential part of every AC expedition, our guides carefully check through team members equipment to make sure that they have everything they need for the expedition. Lisa has arrived for the expedition really well prepared and ready to rock and roll! Tomorrow she and Ang Dorjee will head out to the shops to pick up a couple of last-minute items, and no doubt enjoy some of the sights and sounds of Kathmandu while they are out.

30 8 Welcome Dinner ADFollowing equipment checks today, the team had a briefing, outlining their plan for the next few days as well as how the expedition will operate. An expedition to climb an 8,000m mountain is no small feat, and a huge amount of training, planning and logistics has taken place well before the team's arrival in Kathmandu, and there is a huge sense of excitement and always a little trepidation about the journey ahead! 

After the briefing, the team enjoyed a welcome dinner at a traditional Nepalese restaurant not far from the hotel, with Ang Dorjee reporting that the food was delicious! From the AC team for Ang Dorjee

2 September 2022

Road Trip Continues

2 9 Landslide Lisa SchultzNature always has a way of throwing curve balls, often in the mountains it's weather and snow conditions that can delay plans, but today, our Manaslu team found that a huge landslide had damaged the road to Darapani (pictured left). Unfortunately, this meant the leisurely 1-2 hour drive planned for the day turned into a 5 hour detour along a road on the opposite side of the river. Although, Lisa did think that 'road' was a somewhat loose definition for "something that I guess could technically be called a road in the same way that Niagara Falls could be called a leaky faucet."

An exhilarating day, 4WD adventuring! Despite the somewhat questionable road, the scenery was amazing and the day ended relaxing and unwinding at their Darapani hotel, set alongside the river and close to the start of the trek. Tomorrow, the expedition begins in earnest! From the AC Office for Ang Dorjee Sherpa. 

2 9 Team leaving for Baripani2 9 Road Lisa Schultz2 9 Waterfall Lisa AD Sherpa2 9 Hotel beside river Lisa Schultz

3-5 September 2022

The Trekking Begins!

4 9 Bhimthang 3D Map

Today the team are having an acclimatisation day in the small high-altitude village of Bhimtang (3,590m), nestled under the shadow of Mount Manaslu alongside the Ponkar and Kechakyu Khola Glaciers. Far from the trappings of modern life, Bhimtang was traditionally one of the salt trading routes between Nepal and Tibet, and now is a popular trekking destination for those looking to explore the Manaslu Conservation Area.

With only limited access to wifi over the last few days the team have simply been checking in with the AC Office via their satelitte phone. Ang Dorjee reports that they have had amazing weather, trekking above the cloud, although the trails have been muddy from all of the recent rain.

3 9 Gowa TiclheTheir first day of trekking was only a few hours to Tilje (2,300m), where they stayed at this delightfully colored lodge (pictured right by Ang Dorjee Sherpa). For the duration of the trek the team will stay in guesthouses much like this one, simple but comfortable facilities with wonderful hospitality and wholesome traditional food.

5 9 Ponkar Lake near BhimtangFrom Tilje, the trail continues alongside the Dudh Kohla (river) to Bhimtang, a long day of trekking taking around 7-8 hours. Leaving the lush, green landscapes behind they have trekked high into the mountain zone now, with the village itself being located on glacial moraine. Views from Bhimtang are spectacular, with nearby peaks Phungi Himala (6,538m), Mt. Manaslu (8,163m), Manaslu North (7,157m), Larke Peak (6,249m), Cheo (6,812m), Himlung  (7,126m), Nemjung (7,140m) dominating the landscape.

Today the team  enjoyed a short acclimatisation walk to the nearby Ponkar Lake, in preparation for tomorrow's trek across the Larke Pass. A steep climb up moraine leads to the hidden tal (lake) which has striking blue colours from its glacial waters (pictured left).

6 September 2022

Up and Over Larke Pass

5 9 BirdsLarke Pass presents the toughest day of the trek into Base Camp, the pass is a long, steady climb, made all the more challenging by it's lofty height of 5,106m. The team started early this morning, making the most of the fine weather, and found conditions on the trail perfect - dry with no snow or ice. The trail steadily climbs above Bhimtang, mostly across glacial moraine, a rocky, but well worn trail. Enroute they were lucky enough to spot a Lammergeier, a bearded vulture (pictured left) which has the longest wing-span of any Nepalese bird - up to 3m. It is really something to see up close!

Reaching the pass was a welcome reprieve from the uphill grind and with gathering cloud the team rested and took photos before beginning their descent into the small village of Dharmasala (4,460m). Cairns and prayer flags mark the top of the pass and the trail from there heads down the moraine past some small lakes before descending steeply into  Dharmasala.

A refreshing cup of tea and two hours of rest rejuvenating them for continuing their trek across grassy tundra to Samdo (3,740m) and the comfort of a lodge for the night. It was a long day of hiking, some 12 hours, but they have put the hardest part of the trek behind them now and can look forward to trekking to Samagaon (4,800m) tomorrow and a day or two of welcome rest and acclimatisation.

Photos below by Ang Dorjee Sherpa - All around Larke Pass.

7 September 2022

Last Stop Before Base Camp!

Samagaon (3,525m) is the 'gateway' to Manaslu Base Camp, so it's with much excitement and anticipation that the team embarked on their trek there this morning. The village of Samdo sits on a river terrace high above the Budhi Gandaki and the trail to Samagaon follows the river, crossing it just above a junction where it is joined by one of many smaller tributaries. The trail then follows alongside the river, through juniper and birch forest, past several mani walls and into the small village of Samagaon. 

Samagaon has several tourist lodges that cater to trekkers passing through and of course to climbers coming to attempt the nearby Mount Manaslu. It is rich in Sherpa culture, the village trails being adorned with hundreds of mani stones and it is also home to the famous Ribung Gompa. 

Ang Dorjee has reported that everyone is healthy and in good spirits, looking forward to a hot shower and welcome rest day tomorrow before moving to Base Camp and beginning the business end of the expedition the following day - there is much climbing ahead!

From the AC Office for Ang Dorjee. Photo: The Dream Team - (L to R) Da Jangbu Sherpa, Lisa Schultz and Ang Dorjee Sherpa. Photo by Ang Dorjee Sherpa.

7 9 Da Jangbu Lisa and AD

 

8 September 2022

Rest Day in Samagaon

8 9 Donkeys Samagoan8 9 Yak SamagaonA leisurely breakfast marked the start of what has turned out to be a busy rest day for the team in Samagaon. After catching up on correspondence thanks to a decent wifi connection at last, the team headed out for a morning walk. Trails heading out of the village were a little crowded with an array of donkeys and people transporting goods and equipment up and down the valley. Once out of the village the team enjoyed the trail pretty much to themselves, along with the occasional wandering yak.

After lunch, the team headed to Samagoan's famous Ribung Gompa and were not disappointed! The Gompa sits up on a hillside above the village with Mount Manaslu standing omnipotent high above. From a distance, it's a spectacular and much photographed sight.

The Gompa surrounds are adorned with prayer flags, mani stones and the entranceway with Buddhist statues and sculptures, all of which are intricately hand painted. While there are no longer resident monks at the Gompa, it's beautifully painted walls and alter are all well preserved and maintained - a wonderful piece of cultural history that all of the team enjoyed visiting.

Today has provided a good opportunity for the team to stretch their legs after the last few days of trekking, as well as clear their heads and turn their focus to the next stage of the expedition which starts tomorrow with their impending arrival at Base Camp. Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow! AC Office for Ang Dorjee Sherpa.

Photos: Lisa and Da Jangbu, Ang Dorjee and Lisa, Outside Ribung Gompa, Inside Ribung Gompa. Photos by Ang Dorjee Sherpa

8 9 Lisa and Da Jangbu Hike near Samagaon8 9 Ang Dorjee and Lisa Samagaon Hike8 9 Outside Ribung Monastery8 9 Inside Ribung Monastery

9 September 2022

Trek to Base Camp

9 9 Manaslu BCAfter almost a week of travel our team has arrived at Manaslu Base Camp! Celebrations were in order on arrival, after the steep climb to base camp which is located on the lower reaches of the Manaslu Glacier. Lisa described the trek as the "Day of 10,000,000 Steps!" It is a steep climb from the village of Samagaon, some 1,300m of ascent to base camp, much of which is up stone steps and slippery mud. While not as big of a day as their Larke Pass trek, it was tough going in the rain and through muddy trails.

They were pleased to be met on the trail by their climbing sherpa team, Rinjin and Chhewang Dorji, who hiked down from base camp with hot tea to warm everyone up.

This year there are a lot of other climbers attempting Manaslu, meaning base camp really is a sea of colourful tents. The AC Camp (pictured top) is located off to the side of the main camp, giving the team some quiet and respite from people walking through the camp and the noisy chatter of neighbouring camps. When the clouds clear the team will be rewarded with spectacular views of Mount Manaslu, but for now, it's time to rest and refuel - starting with celebratory cake!

Photo above: AC's Manaslu Base Camp alongside the crevassed Manaslu Glacier (Photo Ang Dorjee Sherpa). Photos below (L to R): Lisa and Ang Dorjee in their private dining tent (Photo Da Jangbu Sherpa), Welcome cake (Photo Lisa Schultz) and A sea of tents Manalsu Base Camp (Photo Ang Dorjee Sherpa).

9 9 Welcome BC AD9 9 Welcome to BC Lisa Schultz9 9 Manaslu BC AD

10 September 2022

Training Day

10 9 Training 2 AD10 9 Training 3 AD10 9 Traning 1 AD

 

 

 

 

 

 


Today was technical training day, where the team spent some time going over some of the more technical skills they'll need to use while climbing Manaslu. It's a really valuable day for everyone - even the most proficient climbers all benefit from the opportunity to check their equipment is in order and sharpen up on using their mountaineering skills at altitude.

With the heavily crevassed Manalsu Glacier adjacent to their camp, it didn't take long for the team to wander over and set up some ropes. Under the watchful guidance of Ang Dorjee, Lisa was able to practice fixed rope skills on steep terrain. On Manaslu the glacial terrain above Camp 1 steepens dramatically and for a short section is technically difficult, so this practice time will be invaluable in a few days time when they start heading further up the mountain.

Tomorrow the team will have their Puja ceremony and then, should weather conditions remain good, head to Camp 1 the next day. AC Office for Ang Dorjee Sherpa. Photos by Da Jangbu Sherpa.

11 September 2022

Puja Ceremony

11 9 Manaslu BC early morning ADAt this time of year the weather at Manaslu Base Camp is often cloudy and wet, especially in the afternoons. It really is a case of the early bird catching the worm, and this morning Ang Dorjee was up early and rewarded with blue skies and a stunning view up to the summit of Mount Manaslu. A great start to what is a very auspicious day for the team as they have their Puja Ceremony today.

A Puja Ceremony (or Pooja Ceremony) is a worship ritual performed in both the Hindu and Buddhist religions to offer prayers to their deities, give thanks, and in this case to pay respect to the mountain, asking for permission to climb and safe passage. The ceremony is led by a local Lama and includes the whole AC team. Climbers gather their equipment at the base of the chorten (shrine) for blessing along with offerings, prayer flags and butter lamps. 

The ancient ceremony is steeped in tradition, with Tibetan drumming, rolling of cymbals, the chanting of a sutra and throwing rice before setting the puja pole in the alter. At the end of the ceremony climbers rub flour into each other's cheeks which symbolizes a grey beard and living to an old age.

Manaslu's rain started just as the ceremony came to an end today, and the team spent the afternoon resting and looking forward to climbing above the clouds. AC Office for Ang Dorjee.

Photos: Mount Manaslu from Base Camp, Preparing for the Puja Ceremony and the Climbing Team (L to R) Chhewang Dorji Sherpa, Da Jangbu Sherpa, Lisa Schultz, Ang Dorjee Sherpa, Rinjin Sherpa. Photos by Ang Dorjee Sherpa.

11 9 Preparing puja11 9 Preparing puja 211 9 Dream team



19 September 2022

Manalsu Curtailed

An eventful few days have passed for the Manaslu team and we are now able to update our dispatches with what has occurred. Unfortunately for Lisa she developed respiratory symptoms from 12 September onwards, that at first she thought was asthma, but upon testing herself it was confirmed she had contracted Covid. Lisa thinks she probably picked it up whilst staying in the lodge in Samagaon. She isolated in her tent at base camp and rested, rather than climbing to Camp 1 as had been the plan.

Overnight on 13 September her symptoms became worse and after consultation with our team in New Zealand by satphone on the morning of 14 September, Ang Dorjee and Lisa descended to Samagaon from base camp on foot, accompanied by Da Jangbu Sherpa. The following day Lisa was evacuated to Kathmandu by helicopter and after a check up at the CIWEC clinic she is now recovering at her hotel. The drop in elevation has certainly helped with her symptoms easing but she is still feeling very low in energy with a nasty cough.

With deep disappointment, Lisa has decided to curtail the rest of her expedition as she needs time to recover properly from Covid, so once she is testing negative she will be able to depart from Kathmandu for home. On behalf of all the Adventure Consultants team, we are sorry that you have had to end your journey earlier than planned Lisa, after all your wonderful efforts with training and being properly prepared for tackling an 8,000m peak. We hope you can return another time to complete your dream of climbing Manaslu.

Intro Photo

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