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Asia, Nepal, Manaslu, East Ridge

Manaslu, East Ridge. Ursula Huber, BedaFuster, Richard Ott, Barbara Wille, Ueli Stahel, Pierre André Levet and I started our approach from Gorkha with 54 porters on March 25. We ascended to Base Camp at 4500 meters with 24 porters from Sama on April 3. We had no high-altitude porters. On April 6, we recon- noitered the route to the east ridge up to 5500 meters, putting in 250 meters of fixed rope in the upper section of the big couloir on snow and ice of 45° to 50°. We established Camp I at 5900 meters on the 8th. The east ridge began with exposed climbing at 6000 meters, where we placed another 80 meters of rope, after clearing old fixed rope. There followed a 60° traverse on the south face of the ridge, where we fixed 150 meters of rope. From there at 6000 meters to 6500 meters the slopes were so easy that we could have done them on skis. Fuster and Ott established Camp II at 6800 meters on April 13 but they were driven back by bad weather, which continued for some days and frustrated a number of attempts to get higher. On April 29 Huber, Fuster and Ott reached Camp II. From there they traversed to join the normal route on the northeast. They climbed to 7500 meters and bivouacked without a tent. On May 1, they started at five A.M. and reached the summit (8163 meters, 26,780 feet) at 1:20 P.M. Ursula Huber is the first Swiss woman to reach the summit of an 8000er! Bad weather came in soon and they had to descend in snowfall and fog. That same day, Levet, Stahel and I had got to Camp II, but bad weather drove as back. On May 10, after a stormy night, we three continued on from a more protected camp at 6500 meters in still stormy conditions. At 7500 meters we found the biovuac site of our friends but did not have enough snow to dig a snow cave. Eventually we turned back from 7600 meters. On May 11, we were back in Base Camp, which we left on the 13th.

Toni Spirig, Schweizer Himalaya Stiftung