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2002 American Manaslu Expedition "Seeking the Spirit"

April 23: Resting at Base Camp

From Tom: 

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Camp 1 now has four relatively tiny little tents on the prow of a ridge at nearly 19,000 feet. We established it yesterday through a very big push by both Sherpa and Team members. It took us nearly 8 hours up and back. While 4,000 feet elevation gain in the Cascades is not a problem, here in the Himalayas we are still acclimatizing. We rest today, and then tomorrow we move up to Camp 1 for what will be many days. The Camp is situated at the doorstep of heaven. It is surrounded by high mountains that bow in height to Manaslu, but clearly give her good competition for who can stick into the atmosphere the highest. Our plan for the next few days is to push equipment and food up the mountain from Camp 1 in 1,500 foot steps, returning to sleep at Camp 1 in order to further acclimatize. Then in four or five days, we may return to Base Camp to rest. Which is what we are doing today. And what a great place to rest it is!!

We are all well fed here by our cook who has his kitchen tent organized better than most restaurant kitchens. His creations include spring rolls, pancakes, soups of all kinds, and of course the staple of rice and lentils ("dal bot"). The snow path to the eating tent is well compacted and when he ("Krishna") bangs a pot to announce one of his meals, six men spring from their tents in humble, hungry obedience.

Base Camp showing multiple climbing partiesWe are joined here in Base Camp by several other climbing parties including Japanese, German, Norwegian, Spanish, and Australian. Each team has its own area with team and cook tents carved out on platforms in the snow hillside. Each team’s camp is centered around a tall pole (made from a sapling harvested from the hillsides far below) on which the national flag and Nepali flag have been hung and proudly flap in the breezes of Manaslu. There are also strings of prayer flags, some as much as 100 feet long, attached and radiating out from each pole. The prayer flags are composed of all colors and when taken as a whole, make Base Camp an exceptionally colorful place. In a sense, the prayer flags serve to unite all nationalities here at Base Camp. Their purpose is not religious, but rather spiritual. In contrast to the bright white snow, the flags are a colorful and powerful reminder of how climbing this mountain is much more than just an athletic event regardless of your national background. So tomorrow up we go to Camp 1.

Prayer flags at Base CampThe beauty and awesome power of the mountains surrounding Camp 1 plus the magnificence of Manaslu itself, on whose shoulder Camp 1 rests, is what my love for this adventure is all about. This affection is only exceeded by that which I have for those who sacrificed to allow us to be here in the first place. I am confident establishing Camp 2 will only serve to increase the strength of this affection in both categories.

From Mike:

. . . Ki Kami, one of our Sherpa climbers, led a small ceremony during which he asked Manaslu for the safety and success of the team.

. . . The health report is as follows: Brian, Dan, and Jerome are well acclimated to Base Camp (15,700 feet), Tom is still harboring a headache, I am doing fairly well, and Scott is dropping back to the village of Sama (11,500 feet) for a couple days to better acclimate.

. . . Yesterday, Khan Cha, Kusang, Ki Kami, Brian, Jerome, Dan, Tom, and I made a carry to Camp 1. Camp 1 is at nearly 19,000 feet (just above Naike Col). There are a few dicey spots where we cross beneath active icefalls, but for the most part the trip to Camp 1 is a glacier slog. We are fortunate to be able to use the fixed line installed by the Australian 8000-meter meister Andrew Locke and his Macedonian friend Alex. We’ve agreed to donate $200 to the school in Sama in return for the use of the fixed line. There is a small fixed line leading to Camp 1; we met Andrew on the line as he was descending from the summit. He was cleaning his gear and his pack was enormous. Everyone but Scott will move to Camp 1 tomorrow (he will be in Sama further acclimatizing). Our Sherpa climbers made a second carry to Camp 1 today, and will join us in two days. The only word I can think of to describe Khan Cha, Kusang, and Ki Kami is machines. Kusang made it to Camp 1 in two hours today, yesterday it took us six. We’re trying to carry our fair share, but that’s nearly impossible when you’re so outclassed. The route above Camp 1 looks a little hair-raising at the start, as it zigzags through an icefall, but after that it evens out to a nice slope leading to the North Col (Camp 3).

. . . Well we’re defiantly on our way; we very much appreciate all the well wishes and kind thoughts. This is definitely an experience like no other!

Jerome resting at Base Camp Dan at Base Camp

Tom and a few of his new friends