28th September! – It’s Sophie’s Birthday

waking up to a brilliant morning - smallThe weather gods finally caved in – it must have been Sophie’s birthday present – we woke up this morning to SUN beaming into the front door of our tent and an amazing view of the east pinnacle of Manaslu as well as a totally clear view all the way down the valley. For us walking in we’ve been plauged by high cloud and rain each day – for those here at basecamp it’s been heavy grey cloud, rain and snow for at least the last 10 days or more. But now the weather seems to have turned – we’re all hoping it means the end of the monsoon and more days of clear sky’s.

So this morning we got up to enjoy the sun and to busy ourselves for our first full trip up to C1. Sophie was still in bed for a bit and our staff took turns coming up to our tent to wish her a happy birthday, we even had a visit from friends at Himex to wish her happy birthday. (and yes KAZ the package was delivered and caused huge amounts of laughter)

Sidi and Pemba
Amazing climbing stadff - small

So, the morning quickly turned into a packing frenzy as Ben and I got ready for our first full day on the mountain and our two climbing sherpa’s stuffed their packs full of gear for a carry to C1. These guys are simply great fun to be with and work incredibly hard. This trip we have with us Phemba Ringi Sherpa and Sidi Mama Tamang. It’s the first time I’ve worked with Pemba but he’s just great – I’ve done a number of trips with Sidi and, as usual, he’s full of smiles and laughter. The boys took great pains to make sure that Ben and I would leave after them and NOT try to catch up to them – as if we could!

Just on 10am we all started up the hill slowly – this would also be Sophie’s first trip above basecamp and she came up past the crampon point, the point where the rock end and the ice begins – which is now irrelevant as the whole valley is loaded with snow. I’d left my ski’s there the day before when Ben and I had gone for a small wander – I’d tried to ski down in REALLY flat light and today I could see my tracks …. Not pretty. The route from there is a slow, gradual rise up to 5500m where it Sophies Birthday weather - smallsteepens up for the last 200m or so to the "high" C1. Soph had come with us to about 5150m before waving us goodbyew and heading down to cups of tea and Dal Bhat in the kitchen. Ben and I made our way very slowly up the valley – it was like walking in a furnace at times as the sun was simply baking – the order of the day was a very stylish themal attire on the lower body with harnesses and then glacier shirts on top – and loads of sunscreen.

The trip from 4800m to 5700m took us the best part of 4 1/2 hours and the amount of new snow was remarkable. Over 1.5m had fallen between 5500m-5700m in the last 4-5 days and we were thankful of the deep trench to walk in – well Ben was – I was ski touring my way up. It was pretty damn hard going at times.

Anyway we got to C1 just slightly before the sun left our part of the hill and the temp plummeted, all of a sudden the thermal pants option just didn’t seem so good – a quick stash of our gear – a boot change for me (back into the Millets) and we were going DOWN. It took less than 1 1/2 hours for us to come down!

Ben - descending from c1 - small

So the plan for the next 3 days is for us to head up to C1, go to C2, I’ll be looking for good launch and landing sites (we’ve already spotted a few) and then come back down for a rest before going back up again to head to C3 ….

Blue Skies! Mal.

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