The name of Mount Manaslu in Nepal means extraordinary momentum, “Mana” or “Manas” is a god, and “Lu” is land, which together means “God of the Land”.
This fall, famous mountaineer Hilary Nelson decided to target its summit, climbing and skiing down. She said, “I will always choose those unknown roads.” She has a “mountain” in her heart that she must climb, but she did not expect this to be her last trip to the snow mountain. When the news came, the global mountaineering community was shaken…
Hilary Nelson is no ordinary person, she is one of the benchmarks in the mountaineering world.
On September 30, 2018, there was heavy snow on the top of Lhotse Peak in the Himalayas.
The sky is cut by the sharp ridge line, above is the gray blue with howling wind and snow, below, the iron blue mountain rocks are steep and jagged, and the snow is precariously hanging on every slope. On an almost vertical, shiny white slope, two figures the size of rice grains zigzag down… This is the American ski mountaineer Hilary Nelson and Jim Morrison. The first feat of skiing back from the summit of Lhotse.
In 2022, they have a new pursuit – Manaslu. However, Goddess of Luck did not favor Nelson, and she slept in Xuefeng’s arms forever. As soon as this matter came out, there were different opinions. What people want to know is, what kind of mountain is Manaslu? What Happened to Hilary Nelson While Skiing? Or, is it worth it to pay your life for an adventure?
Most of the people on the “tricky” Manaslu Peak are false tops
Manaslu, 8,163 meters above sea level, is located in Nepal. As the eighth highest peak in the world, it is the highest mountain in the Mankini Mountains of the Himalayas, and it is extremely difficult to climb. It is also known as “Kutang”, which means “platform” in Tibetan, and is named for its slender ridge and huge peak.
The picture on the left page shows Mount Everest and Lhotse. Hillary Nelson is the first woman to summit Everest and Lhotse within 24 hours. The picture above on the right shows the real and false summits of Mount Manaslu. People are often misled by the perspective of photography, thinking that the false summit is the highest altitude point. On the bottom right, Manaslu is hidden behind a sea of clouds.
In 1950, the British Tillman carried out expeditions in the Annapurna Mountains not far from Manaslu. He also surveyed the situation of Manaslu. He judged that there must be a route to go to peak. Two years later, without the use of supplemental oxygen, three Japanese climbers came to an altitude of 7,751 meters along the northeast slope of Mount Manaslu. Although they did not reach the summit, they developed a climbing route for later provides a very useful experience.
In 1956, a Japanese team led by mountaineer Yutsune Maki completed the first ascent from the north face of Mount Manaslu. Among the team, only Toshio Imanishi and Nepalese guide Gedzen Lob successfully reached the summit. After that, another 15 years of silence, Manaslu Peak ushered in the next batch of expeditions, a Japanese team passed the Manaslu northwest shoulder.
The following year, an ambitious Austrian team attempted to reach the summit, including Reinhold Messner, then known as the “King of Mountaineering”. They set off from the southern slope at an altitude of 3050 meters and wanted to reach the summit. However, the weather conditions changed halfway. When it was time to reach the top of the mountain, everyone else chose to turn back near the top of the mountain, and Messner continued to rush to the top alone. Surprisingly, two climbers were missing among the returning crowd. This tragedy did not in any way affect the enthusiasm of mountaineering enthusiasts for Manaslu. In 1974, the world’s first women’s expedition to challenge the 8,000-meter-level peak reached the summit of Manaslu via the northeast slope.
As news of the successful summit of Mount Manarus continued to spread, many climbers once thought that Manaslu was considered a relatively “gentle” mountain compared with other 8,000-meter peaks, so they named it As a “practice” before climbing Mount Everest. Manaslu has also become a popular destination for commercial expeditions, with more and more people claiming to have summited with Sherpa guides. However, an article in the 2020 mountaineering magazine American Alpine Journal revealed that “most people who claim to have summited Manaslu” failed to reach the real summit, but stopped at about 18.3 meters from the highest point. meters (vertical distance), without crossing the ridge that requires extremely high mountaineering skills. The records of the Himalayan database also show that among the 281 climbers who climbed Manaslu in 2021, only 19 reached the real summit.
This has led to a surge in the number of climbers who challenged Manaslu this year. Many of them have climbed Manaslu before. The purpose of this time is to “make up the exam”-challenge the real peak, in order to truly join the “8000-meter club” (Achieving the summit of 14 8,000-meter-level peaks on the earth). Hillary Nelson, who was killed this time, was one of them. As of September 20, 2022, the number of Manaslu climbing permits issued by the Nepalese government has reached 404, while in 2021, this number is only 150.
Accordingly, the Himalayan Data website issued a public statement in 2022, stating that only those who reached the “true highest point” of Mount Manaslu in the future will be marked as summits. Various expedition companies based in Kathmandu have backed the summit certification change.
In this regard, people in the industry also have other opinions. The German mountaineering explorer Eberhard said publicly: “Aside from professional climbers, most people who ‘false summit’ are customers led by guides. It is necessary to In the end, the distance of only a dozen meters put these people in a very high risk?”
In fact, until today, people really know the true face of Manaslu. Before reaching the height of 8,000 meters, it seems that this mountain paralyzes human beings for a long time, and this section can even be classified as a non-technical climb. However, to reach the real highest point from the false summit, people need to pass through an extremely dangerous section, which is a very steep and narrow ridge covered with snow. Eberhard didn’t want inexperienced climbers crowding the narrow summit ridge in order to reach the real summit, which would be too dangerous. He concluded that commercial climbers “are better off not going to Manaslu at all”. In addition to the treacherous “puzzle” of true and false peaks, there are frequent ice tower collapses and avalanches in the mountains, and its huge flat ice crevasses make it easy for people to get lost… Everything shows that Manaslu has never been It is not a mountain that is easy to “conquer” as people imagined before.
Ski mountaineering and 8,000 meters ‘more difficult than expected’
Hilary Nelson and partner and partner Jim Morrison’s original plan was to summit Manaslu and ski down back to camp, as they did on Lhotse, a difficult plan high.
The picture on the left page was taken when a mountaineering team challenged Mount Manaslu in 2018. On the huge mountain wall, people lined up like ants. In the picture on the right page, people who challenge the Himalayas usually hire one or two Sherpa guides to open the way and transport their luggage for them.
Ski mountaineering is a typical winter mountain outdoor sport, which is mainly based on snow mountain climbing comprehensive technology and supplemented by skiing technology. Compared with simple climbers, ski mountaineers need to carry the snowboard by themselves, or use the anti-slip belt on the bottom of the board (a kind of sticky and auxiliary tool that can be used many times) to climb to a certain height, and then ski. descend. Compared with traditional mountaineering, ski mountaineering has its advantages: it is faster and less labor-intensive to ascend in areas with a certain slope, and it does not need to go on foot when descending, and the speed is faster. But its new risks cannot be ignored. In high-altitude areas, new snow will cover the perennial snow in layers. It is difficult to distinguish from the appearance alone. This kind of layered snow is extremely unstable. Large swaths of the ground slid and eventually triggered an avalanche. You know, no matter how big or small an avalanche is, it is a “death signal” for skiers.
The slopes of wild mountains are changeable, requiring explorers to have extremely professional anti-avalanche training. They must know how to “read” snow; they must be able to identify whether the weather is suitable for skiing or climbing; they must carry and be proficient in using avalanche self-rescue shovels; they must carry signal lights so that they can locate and call for help when they are buried under the snow. If conditions permit, an avalanche airbag will also be carried. When an avalanche occurs but has not been buried, quickly deploy the airbag, and it will help people float on the snow surface… All kinds of equipment and knowledge may seem small and cumbersome, but they are actually indispensable .
Before general commercial climbing, Sherpa guides usually go up the mountain in advance, explore the route, lay out the climbing ropes, and set up ladders in the steep places and gaps of the glacier, so that customers can pass later. Even so, climbing an 8,000-meter mountain is not easy. Because during the climbing process, the temperature fluctuates between minus 20 and minus 40 degrees Celsius at any time, blizzard, strong wind and strong ultraviolet rays…every environmental factor is testing the limits of the human body. Especially in strong winds of level 8, the hypothermia caused by the loss of body heat can kill people invisible and is extremely dangerous. It can be said that 8,000 meters is a “life and death line”. Once crossed, we can only rely on tenacious perseverance. Because at this time, the physical condition of the person will continue to deteriorate, unable to eat, sleep, and restore physical strength. The probability of pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, hypothermia, slipping and falling will greatly increase, and death will follow.
Therefore, even if the skiing and mountaineering skills are superb and the physical fitness is excellent, if there is no solid knowledge of avalanche prevention and the cooperation of experienced guides, mountaineering and skiing will not easily challenge a mountain. Not to mention a “killer peak” like Manaslu that has swallowed the lives of more than 60 climbers. Before going up the mountain, Hilary Nelson also said: “Climbing a mountain over 8,000 meters is more difficult than imagined, let alone carrying skis. There must be environmental conditions suitable for climbing.”
49-year-old Hilary Nelson decides to challenge the “world eighth” when a mother
Long before this Manaslu ski mountaineering plan, Hillary Nelson was already a monument in the minds of many climbers.
She is the first woman to climb Makalu at an altitude of 8463 meters and successfully ski down, and the first woman to summit Everest and Lhotse within 24 hours. In 2017, she completed Denali’s spectacular double-peak ascent, skiing back. In the same year, she and Jim Morrison made their first mountaineering expedition together, successfully climbing the 6,451-meter Pappsula Peak in India, and skiing back from the summit. In 2018, she and Morrison successfully skied back from Lhotse and became the National Geographic Explorer of the Year that year. Also in the same year, she took over as captain of the TNF Global Athlete Team.
Until 2022, Nelson, who is 49 years old and has two children, has completed more than 40 expeditions and is called “the most prolific ski mountaineer of this generation” by sponsors. Nelson said: “A lot of things I do are firsts, but only women’s firsts. Being the ‘first woman’ to do these things has helped my career. However, today When 25-year-old young athletes come on the field, they don’t want that ‘feminine’ modifier anymore…we give it our all, just like the men.”
On the left page, Manaslu in autumn, the villages at the foot of the mountain are colorful in autumn, and the mountain is covered with glaciers and snow, like a white giant. Right page, avalanches are one of the fatal accidents for high-altitude mountaineering.
There is no doubt that Nelson is the top ski mountaineer in the world today, with a wealth of experience. This also means that she has witnessed the deaths of many climbers and knows the dangers of ski mountaineering. When he climbed Lhotse for the first time in 2012, Nelson passed by the remains of the Czech climber Milan – he “sat down and died” during the descent, that is, the climber just wanted to rest for a while, but this made his breathing rhythm change. Slowly, let the body that is already in the limit state lose control, eventually lose temperature, maintain the appearance of the last moment before being alive, and be frozen alive. Returning to Lhotse six years later, she still has lingering fears. She even remembers where Milan was buried and fears that her crampons or ice ax will touch his remains when she strikes the snow. She was lucky this year. She was energetic, had amazing endurance, and had clear thinking and decisiveness. Despite the difficulties, she still achieved her goal: skiing down more than 2,000 meters from the summit of Lhotse Peak and returning to the camp safely.
However, this luck did not extend to 2022. “On Manaslu, I didn’t feel as steady on my feet as I used to when I explored in the thin air of the Himalayan plateau.” Just a few days before the summit, she once said to people: “The continuous monsoon, the continuous wind The rain and humidity made me feel helplessly homesick.” During this period, they gave up an attempt to climb to the top. “We climbed high and worked hard, but the mountain said ‘no,'” Morrison wrote on his social media page four days before the incident. withdraw.”
According to Morrison’s subsequent description, on September 26, under extremely difficult conditions, they finally reached the real narrow summit of Mount Manaslu, and then skied down. Morrison was in the lead, and he coasted on the original planned route. After a few turns, Nelson followed, but at the same time, a small avalanche followed. Nelson fell from a sudden slide in the snow and was swept by a large amount of snow onto the south side of the mountain, which is a steep slope in the opposite direction from the climbing route. As for Morrison, who was gliding rapidly, the only thing he could do was this last glance.
Three days later, Morrison followed a helicopter search and rescue team and found Nelson’s body about 1,900 meters below the summit. The searcher said: “The body was severely damaged and one leg was separated. It took us an hour and a half to dig out the half-buried body in the snow.”
As a senior and top ski mountaineering athlete, Nelson knows better than anyone Manaslu’s risk, but she chose to go down this path anyway. Some media once asked Nelson: “Many people regard you as a ‘legend’, what do you think?” She said calmly: “When I first started to engage in this sport, I didn’t even know what I was doing. to what, where I end up, how I make a living… I don’t want people to think of me as a legend, or ‘perfect’. I’m not perfect, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I just I just live my own life. I hope everyone can understand that to be successful in any field, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice.”
Unexpected death may be the most serious price they need to pay.
Nelson suffered an accident, and some media focused on her “mother” status. Some people believed that she, who was involved in high-altitude skiing and mountaineering, was a role model for women to pursue professional achievements; some people accused her of disregarding her family; Describing her private life lyrically, she calls ski mountaineering her “salvation”. Perhaps, it is time to stop biased interpretation of this accident.
Climbing high-altitude mountains or other adventure sports should not be portrayed as “self-proving” or “spirit-strengthening” behaviors, so as not to be blindly pursued. Whether it is a professional ski mountaineer like Nelson, or other people who become mountaineers for various reasons, such as raising a family, spiritual pursuit, scientific research, etc., the first thing they need to possess is the physical fitness, knowledge, and skills necessary for adventure. , Caution and awe, and ask yourself “is it worth it?” In the end, there is a goal – the “mountains” that must be climbed in my mind, and the adventure to the mountains.