Other Himalaya: Dhaula, Makalu climbers watch Manaslu events

Other Himalaya: Dhaula, Makalu climbers watch Manaslu events

Posted: Sep 24, 2012 10:06 pm EDT

(Tina Sjogren) In Himalaya back in the day (say 15 years or so ago) news of a big avalanche spread between peaks by word of mouth.

Someone would come running into base camp with the account. Eventually, fear would distort facts into horror stories swapped outside flapping tents. We'd all look up our mountain thinking, am I next?

Fast forward. Mountaineers in base camps surf latest news from other peaks on their satellite modems. We are citizen journalists now. News arrive straight from accidents by our fellow climbers struggling to balance ethics of reporting with people's right to know.

And yet some things remain unchanged. The Manaslu avalanche is stirring climbers on other peaks, themselves just ascending or descending in deep snow.

High altitude climbing is less about moves and more about surviving the unique conditions that prevail so close to the sky. Difference between life and death comes down to experience - and luck.

At 73 years old and many eight thousanders later senior climber Carlos Soria knows a bit about both. Following the events from Dhaulagiri, he is very familiar with Manaslu.

"I know Manaslu well," he said from camp 1 (5,900 m) on Dhaulagiri today, "I tried to scale it several times, starting in 1973 with the first Spanish expedition we organized to the Himalayas, down to the summit I reached not until 37 years later."

In his message, Soria said: "This morning I woke up with the news of the avalanche, which I received via radio from the Dhaulagiri base camp. I was shocked by the information, because this kind of thing, although I am aware of can happen at any time, still has a very strong impact. I want to send support to the families of the mountaineers involved in the tragedy."

Soria mentioned that Manaslu, along with Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, are three mountains dangerous exactly for their risk of avalanche, in both spring and fall.

As for his own ascent, Soria said it has been straightforward so far, with the weather staying reasonably well, although with "enough snow on the route."

Done with their acclimatization process, the team has supplied C2 (6,600 m) and will descend to BC tomorrow. They will try for summit in the next push, to be decided by conditions and weather.

Record senior climber Carlos Soria, 73, is attempting Dhaulagiri, instead of Kangchenjunga as originally planned. The Spaniard has summited 11 of the fourteen 8000ers. An attempt on Annapurna earlier this spring by the mountaineer was aborted for extreme risk of avalanche.


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Carlos Soria (front) Sito Carcavilla and Dr. Carlos Martinez climbing to C1 on Dhaulagiri.
Image by Carlos Soria courtesy Dhaulagiri Expedition BBVA
Mere months ago Soria narrowly escaped this snow slide on another mountain notorious for its avalanches: Annapurna.
Image by Tunc Findik courtesy Tunc Findik/Don Bowie, SOURCE
Soria on Manaslu summit in 2010.
courtesy Carlos Soria, SOURCE