Eight-thousander No. 12 for Kristin Harila, Dawa Ongju Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa

Kristin Harila with Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa Sherpa in summer on Gasherbrum I
Kristin Harila with Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa Sherpa (from right to left) – in summer on Gasherbrum I

Despite difficult conditions on the mountain, a few summit successes were reported today from the eight-thousander Manaslu in western Nepal. The two Sherpas Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa as well as the Norwegian Kristin Harila would reached today at 2.36 p.m. local time the highest point at 8,163 meters, let the Nepalese operator 8K Expeditions know. For the Nepalese-Norwegian trio, who are always en route with bottled oxygen, it was already the twelfth eight-thousander summit success this year.

“This was hard, but we wanted to summit Manaslu now to avoid the crowd of climbers waiting in the basecamp. Heavy snowfall and high risk of avalanches made this ascend challenging, so I am glad we made it,” Kristin said in a message from the summit of Manaslu.

Also Sanu Sherpa on top

Manaslu (l.) and Pinnacle East (r.)
Manaslu (l.) and Pinnacle East (r.)

Sherpas from 8K Expeditions had to re-track the route in the upper section, the company let it be known. 90 percent of the climbers who had set out to attempt the summit had descended prematurely from Camp 3 back to base camp because of the fresh snow, it said. A week ago, a Nepalese team from the operator Elite Expeditions had fixed the ropes up to the “True Summit”, the highest point at the end of the Manaslu summit ridge.

Among those who were up there today was Sanu Sherpa, according to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times“. The 47-year-old had been guiding a Chinese client to the summit for the operator Pioneer Adventures, it said. Sanu was celebrated in Nepal in the summer as the first person to have summited all 14 eight-thousanders at least twice. On Manaslu, however, he had not stood on the “True Summit” in 2010, 2011 and 2016, but “only” on one of the somewhat lower elevations on the summit ridge.

Many parallels to Nirmal Purja

The Norwegian Kristin Harila has the same sponsor for her eight-thousander chase as the Nepalese mountaineering star Nirmal Purja three years ago. “Nims” had made headlines around the world in 2019 when he ticked off all eight-thousanders in six months and six days – with a strong Nepalese team behind him, using bottled oxygen and helicopters to get from base camp to base camp as quickly as possible

Nepalese side of Cho Oyu
Nepalese side of Cho Oyu

The 36-year-old Harila and her two Nepalese helpers do it in the same style – and now also have the same problem as Purja three years ago: the problem with the Chinese authorities. They are still missing the two eight-thousanders Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, which are located in Tibet. But since the beginning of the corona pandemic in early 2020, the Chinese-Tibetan authorities have not allowed any foreign climbers into the country. In fall 2019 – reportedly for “safety reasons” at the time – Cho Oyu had been opened only very briefly and Shishapangma had not actually been opened at all. For Purja, however, the authorities had made an exception in the end and had issued his team a permit to climb Shishapangma.

Kristin Harila, Dawa Ongju Sherpa and Pasdawa Sherpa now hope for a similar concession. They could still climb Cho Oyu via the challenging Nepalese south side of the mountain if necessary, but Shishapangma lies entirely on Tibetan territory. “Every effort so far has not led to success, even though I have got tremendous help from all over the world, including the Chinese ambassador in Norway,” Kristin wrote on Instagram, asking her fans to send her ideas on how to get permits after all.

Harila hopes for “fair chance”

Harila’s prospects are likely to be rather slim. China’s leadership is pursuing a rigorous zero-COVID course and would find it difficult to explain to the people of the country if it loosened the reins for a Norwegian climber and two mountaineers from Nepal. “I have already proved that women can break barriers,” Kristin let it be known now. “I hope I get a fair chance to set the record, it would mean a lot for women in mountaineering.” For that to happen, the Chinese would have to jump over their shadow once again. And that can be a very long one.

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