Text Box: Nicholas Rice
Extreme High Altitude Athlete
Text Box: Xpedition 8000

2009 Solo Manaslu Expedition

Dispatch Fifty-seven: May 19th, 2009

Day Fifty-six: SUMMIT PUSH: Climb from Camp IV to SUMMIT!

Today, Mario and I woke up at 12:00am, had breakfast, and scrambled in the sub-zero temperatures to get our things put together. We melted snow and made a hot drink, and then headed out into the cold and started up behind the Spanish. We quickly caught up, as Lina was debating whether the route conditions were too dangerous for her taste. The beginning of the route from Camp IV was steep crystal ice and there werenít fixed lines on most of it. She decided to head back down to Camp IV. The rest of us continued up in the cold, lightning lighting up the night sky in the distance. My hands and feet were numb and I was worried about frostbite as the doctor in base camp had warned me that I had the start of frostbite on two of my toes. After twenty minutes, we reached an icy plateau and no one seemed to know exactly where to head. We followed one of the Spanish Sherpas who had apparently summited last autumn and traversed an icy slope. We reached another plateau as the sun began to rise, and realized that we had gone the long way. We were still not too far off route, so we continued on, the summit now in sight. On one of the steep slopes, a Sherpa holding only two trekking poles slipped and fell 50 meters down to the base. He was lucky not to end up in one of the crevasses at the base of the slope. After making sure he was ok, we continued on toward the summit on a very long low-grade slope. It was exhausting. Having not slept much over the past few days, I found myself dozing off while climbing and quickly stopped for a break. I watched as the line of climbers crept up what appeared to be the final slope to the summit. I was fully aware though that Manaslu had many false summits, and that the real one was the farthest one from us. A few hours later, I climbed up the final slope and saw everyone taking pictures. At 11:30am I reached the summit in nearly perfect weather, with only a slight breeze and mild temperatures. The view was spectacular. I took it in, took a number of photos and decided to head down. I knew that the weather was forecast to change and didnít fancy looking for Camp IV in a whiteout; the slope before reaching Camp IV is icy and dangerous. As I headed down, exhausted, the clouds began to roll in. I kept an eye on the climbers ahead of me, taking note of their direction so that if Camp IV were obscured, I would at least know which way to head. I arrived around 5pm, having taken my time descending carefully. Lina was inside my tent;† their Sherpa had misplaced one of their deposits so they had only one tent for four people, and since Mario had decided to head directly down to base camp, Lina stayed in my tent with me in Camp IV. I was glad, as staying another night at 7,400 meters after summiting isnít the safest thing to do and it was good to have someone there who could keep an eye on my mental status. Staying in Camp IV was however preferable to climbing down from Camp IV in near whiteout conditions as the route is far from clear. I settled in as Lina debated whether she had made the right decision by turning around this morning and whether she should try again tomorrow (weather withstanding). After making water and eating a few energy bars, we went to sleep.

Photos: Left: Climbers on the summit ridge; Right: Nick on the summit of Manaslu!



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