Asia, Nepal, Manaslu, East Ridge and Northeast Face, and Tragedy

Publication Year: 1986.

Manaslu, East Ridge and Northeast Face, and Tragedy. We had originally hoped to make a new route on Manaslu’s southwest face but in Kathmandu we were permitted by the Tourism Ministry to change to the east ridge, which had been unsuccessfully tried by seven previous expeditions. We reached Sama in nine days and after a rest day ascended with 77 porters to Base Camp at 4500 meters. After initial bad weather, we started on April 11 to set up Camp I at 5500 meters and in three days also had Camp II at 6000 meters. We fixed 800 meters of rope between the camps. The way to Camp III at 6500 meters was reached easily on skis. Another high camp was planned at 7300 meters, but bad weather prevented this. On April 28 Christian Gabl, Thomas Juen, Anton Schranz and Dr. Theo Ljubanovic and Sherpas Ang Kami and Lhakpa Norbu set out from Base Camp. Their attempt failed in two-meter-deep snow at Camp II. On April 29 Günter Assmann, Rudi Mayerhofer and I began, but from Camp II to III it was only Mayerhofer, Ang Kami and I. We got to Camp III at eleven A.M. on April 30 and took five hours to dig the tents out and arrange them. We left again in moonlight at ten P.M. but Mayerhofer had to turn back after 200 meters. Ang Kami and I bivouacked in the open at 7000 meters at 1:30 A.M. before continuing in the early morning of May 1. We could not climb on skis above 7300 meters. A steep rock rib led us from there to the Manaslu Plateau, where we joined the northeast route at 7600 meters. There were no more technical difficulties. We reached the summit (8163 meters, 26,780 feet) in a strong wind and dense fog at three P.M. On the descent, when we reached the skis, I left Ang Kami and skied and climbed to Base Camp, which I reached at ten P.M., having had nothing to eat or drink for 24 hours. Ang Kami continued on foot, getting to Camp III at eight P.M. A second summit attempt by Gabl, Schranz and Juen had to be given up at 7300 meters because of bad weather. At nine P.M. Juen was carried by a windslab avalanche over a 70-meter ice cliff. The search the next day was in vain and Schranz and Gabl descended to Base Camp. The high camps were evacuated on May 6. After a short service for our lost friend, we headed for Kathmandu on May 8.

Wilfried Studer, Österreichischer Alpenverein