Pereira, Lenaerts, and Maginelle to Join Txikon on Winter Manaslu

Today, Alex Txikon and his team are flying to Kathmandu and will reach Manaslu Base Camp on December 21. They want to respect the official beginning of winter but also start working on the very first day. They will share the mountain with a second expedition of well-known climbers Oswald Rodrigo Pereira of Poland and Sofie Lenaerts and Stef Maginelle of Belgium.

Alex Txikon on Manaslu last winter. Photo: Sendoa Elejalde


Oswald was part of the Seven Summit Treks team that attempted K2 last winter. He then returned in the summer but lacked the motivation to try for the summit. He was, however, one of the three confirmed climbers to top out on Broad Peak. On the way down, he became involved in the still unclear events that led to the rescue of Nastasia Runova and the death of Korean Kim Hong-Bin.

Lenaerts and Maginelle were on Broad Peak too, but the slow pace from deep snow prompted them to turn around just shy of the summit. And last winter, they were on a ski expedition in the Biafo Glacier area of Pakistan.

Oswald Rodrigo Pereira on the summit of Broad Peak last summer. Photo: Oswald Rodrigo Pereira


“We will have to work all together, Sherpas and foreigners, if we want to reach the summit,” Lenaerts told ExplorersWeb.

Pereira will join Txikon’s team right away, but the Belgian pair will only fly to Nepal around January 1. “We have no holidays!” said Lenaerts.

Three jobs to pay for expeditions

She works as a traffic cop in Belgium, hosts a TV show about road safety and rules, and teaches at the police academy. “I juggle all three jobs to pay for my expeditions,” she said. Meanwhile, Stef Maginelle owns a sports centre that specializes in coaching climbers.

Sofie Lenaerts works as a traffic policewoman to pay for her expeditions. Photo: Sophie Lenaerts


“I hate to arrive so late but hopefully we will acclimatize fast,” Lenaerts said. “This past summer, we got to the foresummit of Broad Peak 12 days after reaching Base Camp.”

The three climbers will use no personal Sherpas or supplementary oxygen. They have hired logistics until BC. They will help with ropes and carry their own gear up the mountain. If the snow on Manaslu is waist-deep in places like it was last winter, their trailbreaking aid will come in handy.

“Last year we encountered a huge crevasse that cross and forced us to open a variation route between Camps 1 and 3,” she said. “This time, I hope we can progress as fast as possible on the normal route.”

Txikon’s struggles

“Hopefully, this time we’ll get a summit chance,” Txikon told EiTB before leaving. He again is climbing with Iñaki Alvarez. Photographer Sendoa Elejalde and cook Eneko Garamendia are also part of his team.

Since achieving the first winter summit of Nanga Parbat in 2016 with Simone Moro and the late Ali Sadpara, Alex Txikon has attempted several winter 8,000’ers without success. This includes K2 in 2018-19, Everest in 2017-18 and 2019-20, and Manaslu last winter.

“We’re very experienced and confident that we can handle conditions until 6,500m,” Txikon said. “But after you cross 7,000m, high winds and extremely low temperatures make things really difficult…Hopefully, this time will be different.”

From the summit of Dingboche Ri, Simone Moro saw his next goal: Ama Dablam. Photo: Simone Moro


Meanwhile,  Simone Moro is currently acclimatizing in the Khumbu Valley and heads to Ama Dablam this week. Moro is also eventually heading to winter Manaslu, at his own pace. But as long as he climbs the peak’s normal route, he will have to join the others on the trail sooner or later.