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Asia, Nepal, Manaslu North

Manaslu North. Our Joint British Services expedition had 12 members under my leadership. We had 170 porters for the 15-day march to the traditional Manaslu east-face Base Camp. We established Base Camp, Camp I, Camp II, Snow Cave and Camp III at 12,600, 16,100, 18,200, 20,200 and 22,200 feet on April 12, 17, 22, 26 and 29 respectively on the eastern side of Manaslu North. The first summit bid was made on May 1 by me and three others after the weather had turned foul overnight. We set out at four A.M. but were caught and partially buried by a large avalanche, which wiped out the trail and marker poles behind us. We withdrew. Another full-scale assault started on May 4, despite snow so deep that the top of the tents at Camp III were two feet below the surface. After climbing to the north col of the main peak, Pat Parsons, Charles Hattersley, Terry Moore and Doug Borthwick reached the summit (7157 meters, 23,481 feet) on May 10 at 12:10 via the kilometer-long, technically difficult south ridge. We believe this to be the second ascent of the peak and a new route. When they got back to Camp III, they discovered it had been swept away by an avalanche. They finally found shelter at the Snow Cave after 20 hours on the move. Three peaks between 18,000 and 20,000 feet were climbed after the main assault.

Douglas Keelan, Lieutenant Colonel, Royal Marines