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Sherpas summit Manaslu – interview with Jon Gupta

We expected news to come much earlier, but as night fell, we shifted our expectations to Friday. Yet winter K2 summiter Sona Sherpa and his team have managed to complete their mission, paving the way for waves of climbers to follow.

It’s unclear whether any of the six Sherpas reached the peak’s highest point or stopped at one of the foresummits.

Some 7ST clients are already poised in higher camps, but most of the 300-plus (between foreigners and local climbers) Manaslu climbers this fall are in Base Camp, waiting out another rainy day. Among them, British guide Jon Gupta, who spoke to ExplorersWeb.

Gupta’s grand year

Unlike nearly everyone else, 2021 has been a great expedition year for Gupta. He bagged the Everest-Lhotse double-header in spring, despite COVID in Base Camp. He followed with K2 in summer, then attempted the highly difficult Pobeda, and finally has returned to Nepal for Manaslu.

Gupta runs his own guiding company, Mountain Expeditions, but in Nepal, he always works with Himalayan Guides and partners with Lhakpa Wongchu Sherpa, a 14-time Everest summiter from Pangboche.

While preparing for his summit push, Gupta is enjoying the mellow vibe in Base Camp, especially when compared to Everest last spring. “[That] was difficult and awkward,” he admitted. “Now there is little mention of COVID around BC. People seem much more relaxed about it. Some folks are still wearing masks and others are only meeting outside, but generally, it feels refreshingly normal.”

Despite the 300 climbers, Gupta doesn’t expect significant crowding near the summit. “I think we’ll see a steady stream of summits, starting with the rope-fixing team and Seven Summit Treks’ members, then other teams over the next five to six days.”

The weather is supposed to remain “okay”, says Gupta, for about a week.

“No more Manaslu foresummits!”

As for the summit, the buzz everywhere is if, how, and who will reach the mountain’s highest point. “The fixing team is super strong,” says Gupta. He believes that if they have a chance to summit that last arete, they will.

Mingma G of Imagine Nepal has been the most outspoken about bringing his clients to the very top. With that in mind, he has surrounded himself with a strong team of Sherpas. Many of them are IFMGA-accredited mountain guides, like himself. Both Tenji Sherpa and Vinayak Malla attempted Manaslu last winter. Dawa Yangzum is one of the Sherpa women who summited Annapurna last spring. Rounding off the team is Dawa Gyalje, Furtemba, and aspiring guide Prakash Kengchai.

“Beginning this year, we hope that there will be no more foresummits on Manaslu,” Mingma G said. His team leaves for Camp 2 tomorrow, aiming to summit on September 27.

“According to his team, Mingma G is determined to fix rope and reach the highest point, even if the first rope-fixing team stops before then,” said Gupta. “We’ll see.”

Gupta is less committed to reaching that point at all costs. “My plans revolve around the safety of my client and the two Sherpa climbers working with us,” he said. “I am carrying a rope and extra gear to use if required, but we’ll have to wait and see until we are up there. We will most likely be a day or two behind the big teams, so it will be interesting to see what they do and why.”

The video below documents Gupta’s Everest-Lhotse ascent:

Source: Angela Benavides – EXPLORERSWEB