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with Stefan Nestler

Everest conditions on Manaslu


The “Mountain of the Spirit” is close to my heart. It is simply because I spent more than a month at the foot of Manaslu ten years ago. Since then, I have had a personal relationship with this impressive eight-thousander in Nepal. In spring 2007, I reported from the base camp at 4,850 meters about a commercial expedition. Once I myself climbed up to Camp 1 at 5,700 meters. At that time we – expedition leader Ralf Dujmovits and eleven clients as well as a team of two from Austria – were the only people on the mountain. We could not imagine (and would not have liked) then that Manaslu would mutate into the “Mount Everest of fall season”.  In the current season about 500 climbers populated Manaslu Base Camp. Nearly 200 summit successes have been reported so far – being noticed that this time mostly pictures were published that had been taken on the highest point and not, as in previous years, on a spot below. Among those who reached the 8,163-meter-high summit there were two climbers with whom I had been en route on other mountains.

Eight-thousander no. 7 for Stitzinger and von Melle

Alix von Melle (r.) and Luis Stitzinger (l.)

Luis Stitzinger, my expedition leader during the first ascent of Kokodak Dome in western China in summer 2014, led a team of the German operator Amical alpin to the summit of Manaslu last Saturday. According to Luis, all eight members of the group were climbing without bottled oxygen. For the 48-year-old, it was the seventh eight-thousander, all scaled without breathing mask. His wife, Alix von Melle, now has the same record. No other woman from Germany has stood on more eight-thousanders  than the 46-year-old. Alix and Luis have summited six of their seven eight-thousanders together.

Breathing mask partly already above Camp 2

Sergio Zigliotto on top of Manaslu

Climbing Manaslu without using supplemental oxygen has become the exception rather than the rule, confirmed another of my former companions.  “90 percent are using O2 above Camp 3 (at 6,800 m),” Sergio Zigliotto wrote to me. “I saw Chinese climbers using O2 already above Camp 2 (6,400 m).”  With the 51-year-old Italian, I had shared the tent at the seven-thousander  Putha Hiunchuli in western Nepal in fall 2011. At that time Sergio had reached the summit while I had had to turn about hundred meters below the summit. Last Wednesday, Zigliotto stood on top of Manaslu. Sergio had wanted to ascend without bottled oxygen, but used it on the last 200 meters  below the summit due to health problems.

On the short rope

Queue on Manaslu

“It was very hard, but wonderful. On 27 September at 10 a.m. , I was standing on the highest point of Manaslu at 8,163 meters,” Sergio wrote. “I found the perfect day for the summit. It was a clear and sunny day. There were just me and other 4 people, hence no problems of traffic due to excess of people.” On that day a total of about 50 people had reached the summit, he said: “I saw many Chinese going on the short rope up and down. It was really sad to see.”  Everest conditions on Manaslu. That is why the “Mountain of the Spirit” is not only close to my heart, but also weighs on  my mind.


2. October 2017 | 14:42