“The threat of avalanches was not an issue during this season.”
— Alix von Melle | LOWA PRO Team
After two expedition-free years caused by a huge earthquake in Nepal (editor’s note: a disaster that forced them to call off their expedition on the north face of Mount Everest) and injuries, the Manaslu served as a successful comeback, ” Melle and Stitzinger say in positively summing up their lives. With the successful ascent of Manaslu on 30 September, the couple has now climbed seven eight-thousanders – following Cho Oyu (2000), Gasherbrum II (2006), Nanga Parbat (2008), Dhaulagiri (2009), Broad Peak (2011) and Shisha Pangma (2013).
A total of 135 mountain climbing permits for teams that were made up of an average of eight to 12 mountain climbers each – the highest number of permits ever – were issued to foreign expeditions in the autumn of 2017 according to the Ministry of Tourism in Nepal. Numbers that you normally just see for Mount Everest. The sudden surge was caused by the temporary closure of the summits Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma, mountains that usually surpass the Manaslu in popularity, by Tibet during the post-monsoon period. Another reason was that many tour organisers began to view Manaslu as a presumably easy alternative. But the mountain is anything but easy. It most recently made headlines in 2012 when one of the worst avalanches in the Himalayas killed 11 people. During the same year, Chinese authorities made the surprise decision to close the border to Tibet for the first time, creating a massive wave of climbers on the mountain.
A period of nice weather produced little new snow and created stable conditions on a mountain known for its difficult weather. And, most likely, for a record number of climbers.” But the unusual conditions should not be viewed as normal. In future, there will also be periods of heavy snow and the risk of avalanches on the “Mountain of the Spirit”, the meaning of the word “Manaslu”.
“Two things matter to me most during expeditions: warmth and comfort. You can reach the summit only if your feet stay warm and you can walk well in the shoe.”