On Sunday, September 27 at 3:00pm, after watching the high winds above Camp 3 (23,000’) load up the slopes with snow all day and increase the avalanche danger immeasurably, we decided it would be best to cancel the expedition to the summit of Manaslu and with it, conclude the 6 Summits Challenge. But we did so after careful consideration of the situation we faced on the mountain.
The avalanche danger on the way to Camp 4 was increasing with each passing moment and the winds were still forecast to steadily blow for another 30+ hours. In fact, winds in excess of 100 mph are expected this week, adding to the extreme avalanche danger all over the climbing route. Sherpa couldn’t climb to Camp 4 (25,000’) as high winds, slide-prone sugary snow and an exposed, avalanche-loaded slope had become too much to take on. The slopes to Camp 4 are long, exposed and have dangerous seracs overhanging them that could fall and start an avalanche at any moment. The safety of the climbers and Sherpa are the most important consideration we make and with conditions such as they are, it would be reckless to risk a summit attempt. Additionally, a 15-foot wide crevasse appeared, posing yet another problem for us to overcome on the way to Camp 4. Then finally, a snow bridge that has existed for years collapsed and a Sherpa was injured in the fall. He was pulled to safety and is doing well.
All of these circumstances have led me to the decision to cancel the Manaslu expedition and with it, end the 6 Summits Challenge. The climbing conditions here at Manaslu are too unpredictable, too dangerous, and too unforgiving. Mountaineering on peaks of this size is already a fantastically perilous task, so adding any degree of heightened risk transitions it from being risky to completely irresponsible. For these same reasons, a majority of the professional expedition teams have also decided to cancel their summit attempts. We are packing up camp today, climbing down tomorrow, and will be back in Kathmandu in a couple of days.
Since April, we have persevered and moved forward through the worst Mother Nature could throw at us. The massive earthquake in Kathmandu and subsequent avalanche at Mount Everest Base Camp closed all climbing on Mount Everest, Lhotse and Makalu. In July, horrible climbing conditions in Northern Pakistan prevented anyone from reaching the summit of K2 and only a handful of climbers were able to summit Broad Peak, Gasherbrum 1 or Gasherbrum 2. Then, the sudden closure of Tibet and cancellation of permits prevented any expeditions to attempt those mountains at all.
While it is with a heavy heart that Sandi and I close this chapter of our mission, we are optimistic and filled with gratitude as we move forward. We know that God will continue to guide us on a path to fight for those who are unable to fight on their own and while we were unable to summit six peaks this year, we are not discouraged. The ultimate goal of the 6 Summits Challenge was to raise awareness of the horrors of child sex trafficking and the epidemic of modern day slavery worldwide, while providing funds for the groups that battle on the front lines every day.
My hope was that my determination and actions have and will continue to inspire others to get off the sidelines to take actions that will help turn the tide against human trafficking. Not everyone can climb a Himalayan mountain, but everyone can do something. I want to encourage all of you to visit our Be Brave page and start a challenge of your own to inspire others and raise funds to help trafficking victims. It can be biking, writing, kayaking, running, or anything you like to do. Please join our army of difference makers and help us continue to raise awareness.
The 6 Summits Challenge has come to an end, but we remain steadfast and dedicated in our mission to fight slavery. Thank you all so much for your unwavering support, your prayers and your commitment to help free 30 million men, woman, and children from the chains of servitude.
More updates to come soon. God Bless.