Successful speed summit and decent of Manaslu in less than 24 hours
A long cherished dream of Benedikt Böhm’s came true on September 30th. After 15 hours and 3,300 metres of climbing without oxygen, he stood on the summit of Manaslu (8,163 m), the eighth highest mountain in the world . After equally exceptional climbs, his partners, Sebastian Haag and Constantin Pade, were stopped just short of the summit.
The ascent took place in the aftermath of the avalanche that claimed several lives a week before. Although over-shadowed by this tragedy, the climbers decided to make one last attempt to climb the peak because of the years of preparation and mental commitment. The fact that they had done everything possible to help the victims of the accident helped them make the decision. "The decision to try for the summit after such a tragedy was a difficult one, but ultimately I decided to climb in their honour and it also helped me cope with the emotional challenges I was also going through from being first on-scene to such a tragedy,” said Benedikt Böhm.
They have decided to make no more report on the Mount Manaslu expedition.
Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those who were lost in the tragedy.
Window of Opportunity for assault on the Summit
"We made our first high camp in the lashing rain, in a drenched, rat-infested hole. So it wasn't the best conditions for a sound sleep. The heavy rain meant we had to postpone setting off for the final camp by another day. If it was going to rain and snow like that, we wouldn't get a chance at all at the summit. Although Mera Peak is "only" 6,500 metres high, the mountain has huge glaciers, and with this visibility we would never find our way towards the summit across the endless snowfields with their sharp fissures and steps.“
This is the first report we got from Benedikt Böhm, speed climber and expedition member of the trekking team to Mera Peak at 6,476 metres.
The team from Gore-Tex® Active project describe their route to the first summit of the expedition. The plan was for Mera Peak in Nepal to be a secondary summit which would help acclimatise the climbers before further ascents above 8,000 metres.
Benedikt Böhm: "The rain eased off somewhat and we set off for the final high camp before the summit. We had become used to wearing only Gore-Tex® material. At last we put on our ski boots and we were in our element. The endless hiking and trekking was over and now we were moving across snow. We crossed a few crevasses and set up camp at only 5,400 metres because of the ongoing snow. Some of us were not feeling the best, some felt quite poorly. After a very short night we got going again at 3 in the morning. We had marked out the route the day before up to a height of 5,800m, so that even in poor visibility we would find the way that far. From that point on there was a massive glacier which was like a labyrinth we had to cross before the surge to the summit. It was pitch dark and cold. Basti, Constantin, and I went ahead and stood at the start of the glacier field. I went to the front, again and again having to veer left or right in wide arcs to get by the huge crevasses, some as large as a ship. It's not easy to keep on course for the summit and work your way around the crevasses with only the light from headlamps.
BUT: unbelievably – it cleared up! We could still see the closest storms and lightning, but they bypassed us.
The sun drove off the last clouds and we made fresh tracks through the cold fresh snow. We were tiny points on the immense snowy mountain. The conditions were perfect for our skis and so shortly before six in the morning we stood on the south summit of Mera Peak and ventured onwards to the highest point, the north summit rising steeply before us. From this height we began to spot one by one the other 13 friends climbing the central summit of Mera Peak.
We reached the summit at 6,476m and gazed over the unique panorama before us. The highest mountains on the planet rose up like a vision before us: Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Kangchenjunga and many others…unbelievable that we had the good luck to get through that one single gap in the weather and all 16 expedition members were able to reach the summit of Mera Peak.
We snapped on our skis while still standing directly on the summit. The first wet mists were gathering. It began to snow, but we didn't let that ruin our almost 1,500m descent, and went down on full gas.
The famous Canadian DYNAFIT athlete Eric Hjorleifson – nicknamed "Hoji" – was visibly re-energised and set the pace with Basti Haag through the fissured terrain. Greg Hill, our Canadian cameraman, filmed like a true professional.
We enjoyed the moment when we reached the bottom safe and sound. We were happy but exhausted. Our Nepalese cooks handed us soup and it wasn't until that moment we realised that we had shared a very special experience on Mera Peak – all in a fit state and precisely the right window of opportunity with the weather.
Manaslu instead of Cho Oyu:
Back in Kathmandu we bid farewell to six of our friends and set off for the next summit – Manaslu (8,156m). But Tibet was closed off to us – the Chinese had sealed off the borders to visitors. The reports had turned out to be true and so our original goal of "Cho Oyu" had to be abandoned.
Manaslu remains on our to-do list. The mountain is amazing when seen for the first time. We were here once before in 2007 and got completely snowed in.
Hell and damnation. We need good weather…
Summit of Mera Peak:
Baschi Bender - Action photographer (GER)
Greg Hill - cameraman and Salomon/Arcteryx athlete (CAN)
Eric Hjorleifson "Hoji"- DYNAFIT athlete, Freeride Team (CAN)
Benedikt Boehm - Brand Manager DYNAFIT (GER)
Basti Haag - vet and DYNAFIT athlete (GER)
Constantin Pade - DYNAFIT Sales Rep und trailrunner (GER)
Schorsch Nickaes - Product Manager DYNAFIT (GER)
Jim Lamancusa - DYNAFIT Sales and Marketing Manager, North America (USA)
Sepp Willibald - Proprietor DYNAFIT Competence Centre, Wackersberg (GER)
Thomas Steiner - freelance product manager, former DYNAFIT (ITA)
Peter Veider and spouse. Head of mountain rescue services Tyrol (AUT)
Tobias Hatje - editor of Fit for Fun (GER)
Robert, Much and Reiner - friends (GER)
Arrival and PRE-Summit: Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag on route to Mera Peak in Nepal
The speed mountaineers Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag headed off last Sunday on the Cho Oyu expedition. The first mountain we want to conquer on the way to Cho Oyu is Mera Peak. Mera Peak is a beautiful mountain for skiing and the monsoon conditions promise fabulous powder snow. You can see by our faces and the spark in our eyes that we can’t wait to leave civilisation behind us.
Benedikt Böhm, Nepal 2012:
Katmandu swallows you up. People are moving in every direction like a trail of ants through the streets. The traffic is chaotic, as you would expect from the non-stop hooting and low-lying smog. Despite that, the city has everything imaginable to offer and we are fascinated by its openness and sense of freedom.
On the second day we take a flight very early, before the start of the rain that unfortunately falls every day in Lukla. The pilots fly by sight and we land facing uphill on a miniature landing strip in a narrow valley. Many say that this is the most dangerous part of the journey! Even though we are missing several items of luggage, the expedition to Mera Peak can begin.
Today we start the first stage of the trip on foot. We’ll be in touch after Mera Peak.
For Benedikt Böhm, Mont Blanc constitutes the perfect training camp setting. The extreme mountaineer from Munich, due to head off to the Himalayas with partner Basti Haag in mid-August for their Cho Oyu expedition, reached the top of the Alps’ highest peak in just eight hours. After 14 hours on foot and skis, the speed mountaineers were back to their start point – the Mont Blanc Tunnel, at an altitude of 1,274 metres.
Episode 3 is all about their training session at Mont Blanc in France. With the temperature showing a pleasant 20 degrees, the ski mountaineers made their 3am start at the Mont Blanc Tunnel, and had a strict time schedule ahead of them. It was essential for the athletes to hit the ski descent via the north flank by midday latest, to ensure they got the best of the conditions.
Running on crampons they crossed the labyrinth of crevasses and cracks over to the Grands Mulets hut (3,051 m), a popular starting point for traditional Mont Blanc ascents. At around 4,000 metres up, Böhm and partner Haag got into their skis. Up at this point on the route, the wind is ice cold, temperatures down at minus 20 degrees. After an eight-hour climb covering a total 3,800 vertical metres, the athletes travel back from the summit along the north flank and arrive back to the warm summer climate at the start, with 14 hours of training now behind them.
Every year, the Munich mountaineers rack up around 350,000 vertical metres on foot and on skis as preparation for their expeditions. The Mont Blanc speed ascent is the optimum training tour, offering perfect conditions for athletes to get vital prep work in for future climbs, including acclimatising to the extreme heights, altitude difference and the testing demands on their stamina.
Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag prepare for Cho Oyu Speed Ascent (8,188 M)
TRAINING CAMP: BENEDIKT BÖHM ON MOUNT FUJI (3,776 M)
The speed ascent up the 8,188-m-tall Cho Oyu mountain in Tibet, the world’s sixth-highest peak, is edging closer for Benedikt Böhm and Sebastian Haag. The big day for the two extreme mountaineers from Munich is set for mid-August. As far as training climbs go for these athletes, each of the duo racks up around 350,000 vertical metres annually.
Episode 2 involved a training session in the exotic location of Mount Fuji in Japan, where Benedikt Böhm blazed his way to the Holy Mountain’s peak in just 3 hours and 29 minutes. His exciting speed ascent and ski descent really gave his Japanese friends something spectacular to celebrate.
Sengen Jinja, Japan.
DYNAFIT athlete Benedikt Böhm is embarking on his speed ascent of the 3,776-metre-tall Mount Fuji. Once the lengthy traditional Japanese preparations at the foot of the mountain are completed, the speed climber, along with a small group of top mountain climbers, photographers and cameraman, begins the ascent. And Böhm gives his colleagues reason to celebrate by taking just 3 hours 29 minutes to reach the summit. Local mountain climbers confirm Böhm’s time as the fastest ever recorded for a ski climb up this renowned mountain. A well-known Japanese saying states that everyone should climb Mount Fuji once in their life – but most mountain climbers see tackling the 20-kilometre technical distance and just under 3,000 vertical metres as a full-day affair.
Konohano Sakuyabime seemingly looked kindly upon the speed climbers taking on Mount Fuji, at 3,766 metres Japan’s tallest mountain. According to legend, this goddess resides at the mountain’s summit and perhaps had a hand in ensuring the climbers’ safe passage up the mountain. Benedikt Böhm went through the traditional mandatory rituals involving an address to Mount Fuji’s goddess before starting out at Sengen Jinja, 870 metres up. The temple gate constitutes the official entrance to Mount Fuji. This traditional route features ten stations. With skis and ski boots strapped on his back, the ski-touring athlete covered the initial seven kilometres up to the Uma Gaeshi car park, 1,490 metres up. From Uma Gaeshi, the route continues on foot via a muddy trail through thick forest up to a height of 1,840 metres. This is where the skiing stage begins, and Benedikt Böhm negotiated the partly iced-over trail, emerging from the trees to be greeted by the first unobstructed view of the imposing, white summit plateau. Conditions and weather were good, only at the summit a harsh, cold wind was blowing. Crampons were the only option for continuing the ascent from the 2,900-metre point, and the final 600 metres were pure ice.
After more than 20 kilometres and 2,929 vertical metres, the speed climber reached the peak in just 3 hours 29 minutes. Böhm and his team then immediately attempted the descent – and it nearly spells disaster for Böhm as he gets stuck in his crampon straps and falls on the icy trail. He loses his skis in the process, later finding them 600 metres further down. But he puts the incident behind him, finally making it to the temple gate in a total time of 4 hours and 59 minutes. The Japanese team, including Kazuya Hiraide, one of Japan’s best mountain climbers and previous winner of the Piolet d’Or award, celebrated achieving what appears to be the fastest ever Mount Fuji ski ascent.
Benedikt Böhm und Sebastian Haag – the Training for great adventure
The Munich athletes’ Manaslu (8,136 m) and, in 2009, Broad Peak (8,051 m) expeditions saw them really hit the heights – and get pushed right to their limits. In August the extreme mountaineers´ expedition series moves on to the world´s sixth-highest peak in Tibet, the Cho Oyu.
Aside from their experience as alpinists, the mountaineers have been appearing behind the camera as well as on it for a long time now, and are well versed in how to fi lm and market their expeditions. Both individually and as a team, Benedikt Böhm, Sebastian Haag and Greg Hill are ambassadors for modern high-altitude mountain climbing.
That is why we are able to follow their whole expedition and stay tuned with several video episodes from Basecamp, Acclimatization and they attempt to reach the peak. For the two athletes, the expedition has already started – they train hard and prepare carefully. About the important time before such adventures, we can already show the first episode here and now. Get an insight into the mountaineer´s goals and personal dream here!
The sixth-highest mountain in the world lies in the Mahalangur Himal section of the Central Himalayas. A close neighbour of Mount Everest and Lhotse, Cho Oyu is part of the world’s most imposing mountain range. Its peak forms the border between China and Nepal and provides a stunning expedition arena. The name Cho Oyu originates from Tibetan, meaning Turquoise Goddess, apparently referring to the turquoise glow of the summit when viewed from Tibet.