The fall climbing season is underway in the Himalaya but so far there hasn’t been a lot of news to report. Most of the teams are in and out of Kathmandu and are either en route to the respective base camps or are already getting settled. Our friend Alan Arnette is always timely with his blog posts however and he checked in earlier today from BC on Manaslu (8156 m/26,759 ft) where it sounds like things are off to a good start.
Alan and his team arrived on the mountain last Saturday and spent the first few days establishing their campsite, sorting gear and getting acclimated. The trek into the site took ten days to complete so everyone was anxious to get settled and prep for the work ahead. The climbers get their own tents of course but the dining tent serves as a common area while a communications tent helps to keep everyone in touch with friends and family back home via slow and costly satellite Internet connections.
After a busy few days in Base Camp, the team held their Puja ceremony on Tuesday of this week. Before anyone begins to head up the mountain they must first go through the Puja, which asks the mountain spirits to protect the climbers as they being their ascent. It is an important ritual when climbing in the Himalaya and the Sherpas wouldn’t dare go higher than Base Camp without first taking part in such a ceremony.
With the Puja out of the way, yesterday Alan and his companions set off for Camp 1. It was a quick up and back to that point on the mountain, taking just five hours to make the round trip. This is the first stage of the all important acclimatization process which will likely next result in the team spending a night at C1 or proceeding up to Camp 2, which has already been established.
It hasn’t been all hard work so far however. Alan reports that after getting back to BC the Sherpas from his team (He’s climbing with the Altitude Junkies) took on the Sherpas from the Himex squad in a game of volleyball. Himex has a court set up in their camp and it was good fun for all to cheer on their companions. Personally I can’t imagine playing volleyball at that altitude but the Sherpas are far stronger than I am at those heights.
For now, the climbers will rest again in BC before heading back up next week. It looks like they’l go all the way to Camp 2 on that rotation so expect to hear more soon. From the sounds of things, conditions on the mountain are good so far and the weather has been cooperative if a bit dreary. Hopefully that bodes well for the days to come.
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