Our team includes: Chris Jones – Ireland, Stephane Louboutin – France, Jan van der Meer – Netherlands, Heike Obermeier – Germany, Bruce Parker – USA, Paul Robinson – Australia (living in USA), Jan Smith – Australia, Jason Smith – Ireland (living in Dubai), Richard Reagan – USA (living in Nepal)
And of course the guides: Russell Brice – New Zealand (living in France), Hiro Kuraoka – Japan, Adrian Ballinger – England (living in USA)
Over two different trips in the last week, this team has slept 3 nights at Camp 1, moved all of their necessary high altitude gear to this camp, and made one push through the challenging terrain between Camps 1 and 2, reaching 6400 meters and getting a chance to finally see the upper mountain close up. The team has shown themselves to be strong and experienced, and seem to enjoy not only the challenging physical side of moving between camps, but also the short technical climbing steps on the route. And these, especially between Camps 1 and 2, are numerous. While the route to Camp 1 is generally about 4 hours of moderate glacier terrain (albeit with lots of crevasses and a few steep steps), the route to Camp 2 is steep and includes two different sections with ladders, lots of 40 degree snow slopes, and a few steps where excellent front-point cramponing technique combined with full trust in the fixed lines is required to overcome short ice walls. This technical nature helps to make the four to six hour climb pass quickly on the way to 6,400 meters!
Since our most recent push to Camp 2, we have spent two days back in basecamp waiting out a storm that might have dropped up to 60 centimetres (2 feet) of snow on the upper mountain. With good weather expected to return tomorrow, we are planning on pushing back up to Camp 2 to sleep and acclimatize, and to see whether it is possible to establish the fixed lines on the steep slopes up to 7,400 meters, site of our final camp.
Stay tuned for the next report from high on Manaslu!
-Adrian Ballinger, Himalayan Experience