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Manaslu 2003: Jeff Justman Dispatch

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Jeff Justman
Manaslu, at 8163 meters, is the eighth highest peak in the world. It is located in the west-central part of Nepal, and our team will climb it by the original route.

JJ’s Dispatch: April 29, 2003 Dispatch 16 Jeff Justman:

Whoomp! Swoosh...I knew what that sound was and before I could even look up snow was covering me. It wasn't a huge avalanche, actually it was rather small but it took me off my feet nonetheless. I immediately struggled to get my head above the snow and when I did I looked where the slide was taking me right over a cliff. My first thought was "this can't be happening…this is it"!

One hour before our team after spending four days at 22,000 feet decided we needed to descend to basecamp. The weather was not ideal to fix rope to camp 3 at 25,000 feet. All we were doing was getting more fatigued from lying around at altitude. At Camp 2 several Slovenian climbers skied down to basecamp. It was lightly snowing and we knew if we sat there, we would have to sit there for several days with more potential storms coming in.

As we descended the snow became more consistent. As we approached Camp 1 (19,000ft) we had one final rappel and then we had to cross the lower icefall and we would be in Camp 1. As I rappelled down I reached the bottom and unclipped from the rope. I took one step and that's when the snow let loose. The slide took me for a ride and stopped before it poured over an ice cliff. After gathering my wits I climbed back up to the fix line. The choice now was climb back up to Camp 2 in now heavy snow. Or work together safely to cross the ice field. Bruce clipped into the fix line and belayed me as I slowly crossed the field. Every step was solid and we had no problem crossing.

We are all in basecamp once again. And it is snowing yet once again. Bruce, Shane, Arnold, Will and I have been on the mountain for over a month. We have reached 22,000 feet with hopes of getting to Camp 3 for a summit attempt. But the weather is not cooperating. What can you do? We'll rest and recoup. Hopefully in a few days we'll go back up and try it again. For me, if it works out this time, great. If not, it may be a sign to return to the lowlands to enjoy a beer and pizza.

May 5, 2003- Call from JJ

JJ called from the village of Sama. He said he and a few of the climbers decided to escape basecamp for a few days to relax in a tea house, check up on email, and get away from the storms. It has been snowing and snowing. He is ready for the snow to stop so they can continue to climb. He says they are just waiting it out right now. He hopes to have good climbing news soon! The Mountain Link Office.

May 7, 2003 – Jeff Justman Dispatch

42 days- Still Snowing!!!

Here we are on day 42 since we arrived at Base camp and it is still snowing. As a matter of fact, it has snowed 36 of the 42 days. Half of the expeditions are packing up and going home. It has to stop snowing, right? Hopefully! Because the last storm buried all of our Mountain Hardwear tents at Camp 1 under 5 feet of snow. We have yet to see the conditions of Camp 2. It is a good thing we have bomber tents, otherwise we would be packing up and leaving too. But no! We will continue to sit, wait, play it safe, and face the adversity like the climbers we are! The biggest part in succeeding now is to remain mentally strong. The entire team is physically strong and acclimatized. And we are ready to summit when the mountain will allow us. If only it would stop SNOWING!!!! 

Will call again soon! Ciao-JJ


Jeff Justman, veteran climber, author and motivational speaker. To book Jeff Justman e-mail here


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