It is always a difficult decision to decide when you should try to reach the summit of any peak. Here at Manaslu where we sit in the clouds at Base Camp for so much of the time, it's difficult to know exactly what the snow and wind conditions are like high on the mountain at 26,781'. So we rely heavily on our weather forecasting and try to combine this with our experience to make the correct calls. This last week has been particularly difficult as we saw a cyclone approaching Nepal which had the potential to deposit a lot of snow in this area. Over the years, previous cyclones in the region have deposited over 1m (3-4ft!) of snow, so you can see why we are cautious here and do not want to be in the higher camps at this time.
But then we heard that the snow fell mainly in the Everest / Makalu area, we thought that the moist air had passed us by. This gave us some hope that we could get back on the mountain knowing that it was mainly clear above 6000m (19,685'), but then we had another problem lingering. It looks like the Jet Stream winds will move closer to Manaslu from September 27th onwards, so we decided to make the 26th our summit day. But this means climbing from BC (15,750') to C2 (21,000') in one day, a long and hot trip. We all prepared to leave at 3am on the morning of 23rd but as we all went to bed it started to rain very heavily for the next 5 hours. We were afraid that the cyclone was actually pushing in harder than expected and we would get a ton of snow higher on the mountain. But after getting up to look through the fog and rain at 2am, 3am and 4am, we eventually decided to continue as planned at 5am. LONG NIGHT! Although it was a late start, all the Sherpas were able to get to C3 (22,300') and the climbers to C2. In fact two of the Sherpas even fixed the first 200m of rope towards C4 (24,445').
Today all members made it to C3 where we'll will spend the night and the Sherpas are in the process of fixing the route to C4 before descending to C2 to spend the night. Tomorrow, we'll hopefully be at C4 getting ready to go to the summit on the 26th. According to the forecast it looks like the wind will be too strong on the 27th for the following few days, but we will see when we get reports from other teams. The most important thing, no matter what, is safety. More news to come! Please wish us luck and keep all of the climbers in your prayers.