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Asia, Nepal, Manaslu Attempt

Manaslu Attempt. We were Americans Andy Lapkass, Peter Nichols, Chris Treese, Jim McEachem, Ken Thorp, Steve and Ron Matous and Pete Athans, Britons Paul Moores, Alan Burgess and I, although I live in the United States, and Sherpas Dawa Nuru and Pinzo. We climbed in small independent groups of two or three at the speed and rate of ascent which suited the particular individuals. On September 30, we set up Base Camp at 14,300 feet. This is a low Base Camp; Spaniards, Austrians and Japanese all had theirs at 16,300 feet, where we erected a large tent for a storage dump on the way to Camp I on Naike Col at 18,300 feet. There is no real climbing to this point, just a straightforward glacier; it took between 3½ to 4 hours from Base Camp. The route above the col steepens and then crosses a 600-foot-wide open gully, which, although threatened from above by crumbling ice cliffs, only avalanched once in any proportions. The route then follows a series of four step-like bumps up to Camp II at 20,500 feet. One step involved 250 feet of steep snow-and-ice climbing, but the Spaniards had already fixed rope on it. There was a 15-foot aluminum ladder spanning a small crevasse, which opened at an alarming rate of eight inches per day. By the end of the expedition, it spanned a 16-foot hole. The weather during the whole of September had been horrible. We were told it snowed for 23 out of 26 days, building up a dangerous windslab above Camp II. We approached it warily—but not warily enough. Three Sherpas working for the Austrians, tailed by Andy Lapkass, broke a deep trough to 22,000 feet. Andy returned a little in advance of the others and saw them cut a 500-foot-wide slab which carried them 1000 feet. Luckily the threesome came to rest on top of the debris and were only shaken. Andy then went back up and effected a rescue back down to Camp II. Although the weather had cleared, we had very high winds above 22,000 feet. During the third week of October, Paul Moores, Lapkass, my twin Alan and I went up to Camp III at 23,150 feet, sandwiched above and below ice cliffs. After a foul, windy night, we were forced to descend. A few days later, Dawa, Nichols and Treese went to Camp III but given the ferocity of the wind, they decided not to sleep there. Nobody went back to that height again. After another week of waiting in Camp II, we abandoned the attempt. We left Base Camp on November 6.

Adrian Burgess