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Manaslu summit push: Together we win
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May 17, 2005 16: 17 EST
After the Amical-guided team called it quits on Manaslu on Sunday, the remaining climbers on the spot held a meeting yesterday and agreed to join forces for a last-chance summit bid in unclear weather conditions. Currently there are two Spanish teams, one Japanese, plus Georgian Gia Torladze and Russian Serguey Bogomolov.

The though part comes tomorrow

Despite bad weather forecast, the climbers are setting off today for Camp I. “Weather is not going to be good at all, but the way up to C1 is otherwise easy,” Spaniard Nacho Orviz told the local paper El Comercio Digital. “Most dangers lay ahead, between C1 and C2, where there are some sections exposed to serac falling and avalanches. However, we will climb that part of the route on Wednesday, when forecasts announce an improvement in the weather.”

“On Thursday, May 19th we will set C3, rest for some hours there, and go for the summit during the first hours of Friday. Forecasts say the weather may drop that day. After the summit we will need two days to retrieve our camps and go back down. He hope we will be back on may, 22nd, as we have already hired the helicopter to pick us up on the 25th in Sama Ro (3.300 m), one day away from BC.”

Germans ‘blown away’

Amical German team launched a desperate summit push two days before their climbing permit ended. However, high winds and storm prevented them not just from reaching the summit, but from retrieving their gear from the mountain. The Germans have left two Sherpas in charge of dismantling the higher camps and sending all the stuff back to Kathmandu.

Russian Serguey Bogomolov and Georgian Gia Torladze have joined a Spanish expedition on Manaslu this season. There are also a second Spanish expedition and a Japanese team on the mountain.

German outfitter Amical team abandoned the mountain on Sunday after a failed summit bid.

Serguey Bogomolov, 44, has summited 11 8,000ers. In July 2002 he climbed Shisha Pangma by a new route, crossing to the formerly unclimbed North-East Ridge. Last year he attempted Annapurna’s South face as part of Piotr Pustelnik’s team.

Manaslu, the world’s eighth highest mountain, is located in the Gurkha massif of Nepal just east of the Annapurna range. After H.W. Tilman’s initial reconnaissance in 1950 and three subsequent attempts by Japanese expeditions, Manaslu was scaled for the first time on May 9, 1956 by Japanese climber Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu Sherpa from India.

In 2003 the peak was scaled by Piotr Pustelnik and Krzysztof Tarasewicz. They were the only two climbers to reach the summit of Manaslu that year, and the mountain has remained unclimbed since. High winds caused the climbers to fall 300m, nearly knocking them off the mountain on their descent. The pair used a compass to guide them through the blinding snowstorm down to safety, but Pustelnik sustained frostbite on four of his fingers. Having summited twelve 8,000m peaks, he stated, “I found the expedition to Manaslu the hardest compared to my last three climbs. Maybe K2 in 1996 from the north was harder. I didn't have such a bad weather even on Kangchenjunga in 2001, and now I understand why even excellent climbers were talking about Manaslu with such a deep respect.”

To date, 240 climbers have summited Manaslu and the overall summit/fatality rate is 21.67%. In recent years, however, statistics show that while Manaslu’s rate has declined by more than half, it is still more than double that of Everest’s modern rate. Up until 1990, Manaslu's fatality rate was 35.16%. From 1990 until today, 20 out of 149 climbers have died, and thus, Manaslu’s fatality rate diminished to 13.42%. Yet this is still roughly three times Everest’s modern fatality rate of 4.4%.

Image of Manaslu Camp 1 by Nacho Orviz, courtesy of El Comercio Digital.
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