Winter Manaslu: Paula Strengell on ‘Artificial Classifications’

Manaslu Winter 8000ers
Simone Moro shovels out a snowed-in Manaslu Base Camp. Photo: Pasang Rinzee Sherpa

Paula Strengell of Finland was not really planning to report anything from Manaslu Base Camp. The quiet, self-funded climber usually just writes about her adventures for family and friends on Facebook.

That is what she did after summiting Everest and skiing the complete, 52-day route to the South Pole. This summer, she had been part of a Karakorum Expeditions group to K2 when owner Mirza Ali called off their climb for unclear reasons.

“I was on my way to Camp 3, making a great time, and suddenly we found out that the expedition was cancelled,” she told ExplorersWeb.

She and her teammates were shocked and disappointed when their summit chance vanished. Especially when other teams proceeded up the mountain in nearly perfect conditions.

Paula Strengell rock climbing in Spain last summer. Photo: Paula Strengell

Last week, Strengell headed for winter Manaslu. An avid backcountry skier in Lapland, and with summits of Everest, Cho Oyu, and Ama Dablam on her resumé, she is familiar with cold and hard work in the mountains. She is hardly a “tourist”. She is also a medical doctor by profession.

“The temperature is not lower than -20ºC, so it’s not that bad, but there’s lots of snow,” she said.

In Base Camp, Strengell read reports about the winter Manaslu expedition, and the “commercial” label attached to some of the participants bothered her, so she contacted ExplorersWeb.

‘We’re working harder than anyone’

“The so-called commercial clients have been working harder than expedition clients (or however they should be called) this far,” she noted.

Although she was supposed to have a personal Sherpa,  he is currently part of the rope-fixing team. “I think we will go together when we reach the upper sections,” Strengell explained. “Meanwhile, I am working and climbing with Oswald (Rodrigo Pereira), which is great.”

“Anyway, this split between commercial and non-commercial is totally artificial,” she said.

Simone Moro (far right) with Alex Txikon’s team in Base Camp. Photo: Simone Moro

As we explained in the latest winter 8,000m update, there’s been a question about how to classify the various climbers or teams currently on Manaslu. There is one Sherpa rope-fixing team that everybody will use, but everyone will need to climb more or less self-sufficiently. They will also have to pool their efforts in order to summit and safely return.

Meanwhile, Simone Moro and Pasang Rinzee reached Base Camp yesterday just as the weather turned for the worse. “It’s been snowing heavily and the forecast is for three days of bad weather,” Moro wrote.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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