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Himalaya Autumn Season 2011 Kicks Off

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition

The following blog is courtesy of Billi Bierling, Himalayan Experience:

Himalayan Experience is back on Manaslu, which will be the company’s fourth season on the world’s eight highest mountains. Last year, Russell Brice and his team put seven clients, seven Sherpas and three mountain guides on top of the 8,163m peak.

The composition of the climbing team will be a little bit different this year, as nine war-wounded soldiers and their mentor from the United Kingdom will be joining the expedition, which consists of a total of 22 members. “The nine lads came to Chamonix and did a week’s training course with our sister company, Chamonix Experience,” Russell said. “It was fun and I am really looking forward to having them on our team.”

The war-wounded soldiers are part of a British charity called ‘Walking with the Wounded’ and it is dedicated to raising funds for the re-education and re-training of wounded servicemen. Only in April this year, eight wounded soldiers reached the North Pole, and it is planned that four of the nine Manaslu aspirants will go to Mount Everest in 2012.

The rest of this year’s team consists of climbers from Russia, Germany, Japan, USA, France, Australia, Latvia, Nepal, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. Like every year, Monica Piris, our doctor from Spain, will be at base camp to look after the clients’ well being.

Here is a list of all the team members and guides. Of course, the expedition will be supported by our Sherpa team, which will be led by the legendary Phurba Tashi, who has worked on 20 expeditions with Himalayan Experience.


Walking with the Wounded:

Francis Atkinson UK

Christopher Gwilt UK

Andrew Hawkins UK

Martin Hewitt UK

Karl Hinett UK

Daniel Majid UK

Manunora Rai Nepal        

Jaco Van Gass South Africa      

David Wiseman UK

Henry Chaplin (mentor) UK

Ken Sauls (video) USA

Other climbing members:           

Sergey Baranov Russia

Wallace Chambers USA

David Craven UK

Makoto Fujikawa Japan

Pierre Godof France                 

Herbert Hellmuth Germany

Paul Howard Australia

Kristine Kravcova Latvia

Noboru Kudo Japan

Rumiko Saito Japan

Yoshiki Sakai Japan

Voldemars Spruzs Latvia


Russell Brice New Zealand                    

Adrian Ballinger UK

Ryuseki Hiraoka Japan

David McKinley New Zealand

Brian Warren USA


Monica Piris Spain


Billi Bierling Germany   

The whole team is due to arrive in Kathmandu on Saturday, 27 August and will be flying to Samagoan the following Monday. As this small but progressive village lies at an altitude of 3,780m, the team will be spending three to four days there to get used to the high elevation. After they have acclimatised, the group will be ascending to base camp (4,665m), which will be their temporary home for about four weeks from where they will launch their summit bid.

Since a Japanese team first scaled the mountain on 9 May 1956, Manaslu has seen 492 successful ascents, 45 of which have been by climbers from Himalayan Experience, stipulating almost 10 percent of the total.

The region is also known for its constant precipitation and it will probably not be a rare occasion that the team will have to shovel snow around their tents before heading for breakfast. If this year is anything like last season, we can expect some more exercise than just shovel snow. With New Zealand cricket legend, Adam Parore on the team in autumn 2010, Himalayan Experience challenged Dream Guides for a cricket match – and of course, the New-Zealand led team won!

I am really looking forward to updating you, once again, on our expedition and I hope you will enjoy reading the newsletters from Manaslu this season.

Billi Bierling in Kathmandu