Roughly a week after the deadly avalanche that claimed at least 11 lives on Manaslu, German climber and skier Benedikt Böhm summited and skied down the world's eighth highest peak without the use of supplemental oxygen in less than 24 hours. "The decision to try for the summit after such a tragedy was a difficult one, but ultimately I decided to climb in their honor and it also helped me cope with the emotional challenges I was also going through from being first on-scene to such a tragedy,” Böhm said in a press release.
Böhm initially planned to climb and ski Cho Oyu, but when the Chinese did not let foreigners into Tibet, he moved on to Manaslu with his team. After the avalanche, one teammate, Greg Hill, went home. That left Sebastian Haag and Böhm, who tapped Constantine Pade to join their expedition.
On September 29, at 6 p.m., the team left Base Camp. By 9 a.m. the next morning, Böhm stood on the 26,759-foot peak. Haag and Pade stopped about 500 feet below the summit to save their strength for the ski. Böhm met his teammates and they descended together. He shared the details of the trip down with EpicTV.
It was the worst ski descent ever. Everything was wind-packed, totally unpredictable, and just really, really bad. When we got to Camp 4, we took off our skis and traversed a bit because the route was icy and we didn’t want to risk it. We put them back on again at 7,300m. As we skied beneath the big serac we could see the huge avalanche crown above us. It was four meters deep!
Below that the ski descent got even worse because of the avalanche debris. It was no fun at all, we were just eating altitude. It was hard to find the way but once we got to C3 the route became obvious again although it was still diffivuly because of all the avalanche debris. By that time it was getting late—about 11:00 or 12:00. The morning had been unusually warm below 6,000 meters and we were shocked to see how the crevasses had really opened up and seracs had fallen. We had to throw ropes and gear to get over the crevasses, which took us a long time. In the end it took 8.5 hours of seemingly endless ski descent that you should usually be able to ski in four hours in good conditions, no problem.
So after 23.5 hours we were back in Base Camp.
Summits of Manaslu take four days on average. For Böhm's full recap of the ascent and descent, go to EpicTV.