Over the past two decades I’ve lived all around the globe, seizing every opportunity to travel and explore the outdoors. I’ve experienced some great adventures along the way and I’ve met some amazing people. It’s been an incredible journey, but I’m not planning to slow down anytime soon! Enjoy the site, and stay connected. – Paul
Daniella and I have finally locked in our honeymoon plans, and we’ve decided on a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Straight after the wedding weekend in Mexico we’ll hop on a plane and fly to Kathmandu (via Istanbul) where we’ll disappear into the Nepal Himalaya for three weeks of exploration, trekking and even a spot of high-altitude mountaineering around Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world.
We’re especially looking forward to being outdoors and active every day, immersing ourselves in the local culture, and spending some time together completely off-the-grid and without distraction – which will be especially important and enjoyable after all the wedding chaos.
Our plan is to trek around Manaslu over a 21-day private expedition. Starting at Arughat, our anti-clockwise circuit around the mountain we’ll take a side-trip into the remote, culturally Tibetan region of the Tsum Valley, which was only opened to foreigners less than a decade ago. When we get to Larkya La pass around 5,100m the plan is to take a few days to ascend rarely-climbed 6,249m Larkya Peak. The climb will require us to set up base camp, ascend the glacier and spend the night at a 5,700m high camp at the col before going for the summit the next morning. After the climb we’ll cross over Larkya La and begin the long descent to join the Annapurna Circuit at Dharapani and further on to the trailhead where we’ll drive back to Kathmandu for a well-earned celebration before flying out to Istanbul the next day.
I took a lot of time to develop and refine the itinerary for this trip, as there is a lot we want to accomplish in a finite amount of time. We wanted to do a trek in combination with an NMA trekking peak, hopefully complete a circuit (rather than an out-and-back route), and experience the local mountain communities and Tibetan Buddhist culture. We also hoped to explore a less-frequented part of the Nepal Himalaya so that excluded the busy and popular Annapurna Circuit, and I had previously trekked the Everest Region with Dad back in 2004. The Manaslu region, in combination with remote Tsum Valley which was just opened to foreigners in 2007, checked all of those boxes. Adding to that, the Manaslu and Tsum regions were hit especially hard by the April 2015 earthquake, and we were keen to support the local economy which relies on trekkers for their income.
I researched the options online, by reading some trekking guides and through discussions with various trekking companies. Here’s the full itinerary for our 21-day trek and climb:
The Manaslu Circuit itinerary, along with other trekking options such as the Tsum Valley and Nar-Phu side-trips, can be viewed in Google Sheets here.
We will be working with the trekking outfitter Climb High Himalaya for this trip, and they will provide all the trekking and climbing services for this trip. We’ll be doing it as both a teahouse and camping trek with an entourage that will include our guide, a cook, and possibly 4-5 porters to carry all the personal and group gear.
A shout-out to Himalayan Trailblazer as well for all their help developing our plans for this trip. I hope to use them on a future expedition or mountaineering trip in the Himalaya. I first contacted them about the possibility of doing a first ascent expedition in Nepal, and they come highly recommended.
Not long now!! Final prep is underway and I’m headed to Alaska in just a few days. I’m excited, admittedly also a little nervous, but feel ready for the adventure and challenge to come.
I’m planning to post to social media as we go using the DeLorme inReach Explorer satellite communicator and GPS device. These updates will be posted to Facebook and Twitter, and my GPS location will be tracked and viewable on my MapShare page along with the messages I post.Tweets by @pmando
I’ll also be able to send and receive messages through the inReach device, so drop me a line and say hi! I should have a lot of downtime in the evenings to write back.
To send me a message, follow these easy steps:
My expedition company will be providing updates for all of their teams on the mountain through the Denali Cybercast blog at their website and on WordPress.com. Look for references to the team I’m on: Alp Team 4, departing May 18th with Vern Tejas as lead guide.
I believe these posts will also be made available on AAI’s Facebook page.
Denali National Park & Preserve has set up a mountaineers blog with daily dispatches covering current conditions and status on the numbers of climbers on the mountain and how the season is progressing.
While I’ve previously shared some information on the West Buttress route in an earlier post, I found the American Alpine Institute – another commercial expedition outfitter, not to be confused with Alpine Ascents International who I’ll be climbing with – has a great virtual tour of the route with descriptions, photos and even some video. You can click on the links below to learn more about the West Buttress route as we climb the mountain:
They also have a great short video that really gives you a taste of what the Denali West Buttress expedition experience is like – looks like a big challenge and a lot of fun!
Well that’s all for now. Back in a couple of weeks with – if Denali will let me – a summit of North America’s highest point to show for it! While there is only a 50% probability of summit success (and it was even less last season), it’s sure to be a grand adventure nonetheless…
Denali National Park & Preserve have now started their mountaineers blog for the season ahead, with daily dispatches covering current weather and conditions as well as some figures on the numbers of climbers on the mountain.
Amazingly, a whopping 800+ climbers have registered for 2015, so while there’s just 5 climbers on the mountain as of today it will certainly get quite busy around the peak season (when I’ll be there)! And weather-wise, it was a tropical 15F/-9C at 7,200ft base camp this morning…