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Asia, Nepal, Manaslu, Winter Ascent and Tragedy, 1984

Manaslu, Winter Ascent and Tragedy, 1984. Our expedition consisted of Maciej Berbeka, Marek Danielak, Ryszard Gajewski, Stanislaw Jaworski, Andrzej Machnik, Zbigniew Mlynarczyk, Andrzej Osika, Maciej Pawlikowski, Boguslaw Probulski, Wlodzimierz Stoinski and me as leader. We planned to make a winter ascent of the Messner route from the south. Our approach via the Marsyandi and Dona Khola valleys took eight days. We reached Base Camp at 4000 meters on December 2. The next day Advanced Base was established at 4400 meters on the Thulagi Glacier. We then climbed and fixed with rope a 500-meter-high rock face of UIAA V, A2 difficulty. Camp I was set up at 5650 meters on December 5. On the 11th, while descending the wall from Camp I, a fixed rope, which had been cut by a stone, broke and Jaworski fell 100 meters to his death. After discussions, we decided to continue. On December 11 we crossed the “Ice Labyrinth” and placed Camp II at 6400 meters in the “Butterfly Valley.” On December 21 Camp III was established at 7100 meters. From December 23 to 26 we celebrated Christmas in Base Camp. After that the weather deteriorated. Twice the tents of Camp III were blown off into the “Butterfly Valley.” Temperatures at Camp III were down to –25° C. We fixed with rope the whole ramp where Camp III lay. On January 11, 1984 Gajewski and Berbeka set up Camp IV at 7700 meters on the plateau. That night the temperature inside the tent fell to –32° C. On December 12 they made an early start for the summit and were on top at eleven o’clock. On the descent they had to buck hurricane winds directly in their faces and sometimes had to crawl downward. Berbeka froze toes and Gajewski a finger. On January 14 Pawlikowski and Probulski left Camp III and in worsening weather climbed to the plateau. They could not find Camp IV, which had been blown down by the wind. We decided to abandon the attempt and the expedition. This was the first ascent of an 8000er in January and the first winter ascent of an 8000er without supplementary oxygen.

Lech Korniszewski, Klub Wysokogdrski, Zakopane, Poland