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Tension rising on Manaslu
image story

May 11, 2005 17: 35 EST
Teams currently on Manaslu are running out of time and patience. They need to push for the summit as soon as possible, but snow and poor weather conditions are against them.

Russian climber Serguey Bogomolov told “RussianClimb” today that he and his team reached 7100m and returned to BC. They are ready to take another crack at the top. However, he is hesitant due to bad snow conditions. Serguey is climbing with Georgian Gia Torladze and a Spanish team.

Spaniards on the run

A team of Spaniards currently on the mountain is in a similar predicament. Nacho (Ignacio) Orviz, Ricardo Valencia, Joseba Gutierrez, and Ruben Jimenez have completed their acclimatization process, spending a night at 6500m. As far as the route goes, Nacho reported that there are some tricky sections between Camp 1 and Camp2: “There is a section very exposed to rock falls. We were always on the run there.”

The guys are now ready to launch a summit bid this week, weather permitting, of course. The Spaniards had some optimistic forecasts, but yesterday they woke up to heavy snowfall and high winds.

Amical team: This week or never

However, no one is in as much of a hurry as the German Amical team. According to Orviz, their permit is only valid until Sunday, when they will have to head back home. The team, led by Rainer Pircher, has already taken one shot at the summit. They were forced to retreat though, as they ran short of rope to fix the route. Despite high winds, the team planned to push for the top today, although there is no further news to confirm they’ve gone up.

Russian Serguey Bogomolov and Georgian Gia Torladze have joined a Spanish expedition to Manaslu this season. The mountain will also see attempts from a team led by German outfitter Amical, a Japanese team, and another Spanish expedition.

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 Spanish Nacho Orviz, courtesy of El Comercio Digital

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