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Manaslu 8163 m
Sumitted on 22.05.2001 by the South-East ridge, a new route, with the Ukrainian National Expedition “Ukraine-Himalaya,” dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Independence of Ukraine.

“After exhausting work on the route, by a miracle there was an interval of good weather, “Go to the monasteries and pray to keep the weather” - it was a cry from our hearts to those staying in Base Camp …”

During the expedition two climbs were made - via the new route to Manaslu (8163m) and a pioneering climb to an unnamned peak “P2” (6251m) later called Peak Ukraine. As an option, a new route to Manaslu via the unclimbed South-East face had been considered. But shortage of information about the length of key pitches and permanent avalanche danger on the route resulted in selection of the more safe S-E ridge route.
Head of expedition - Valentin Simonenko, Chief coach Mstislav Gorbenko, Senior coach - Vladimir Shumihin, Coach - Michael Zagirnyak, Doctor - Vladimir Lebedenko
The team members:
1. Aleksey Belkov
2. Igor Chaplinsky
3. Michael Evchev
4. Nikolay Goryunov
5. Sergey Kovalev
6. Vadim Leontiev
7. Vladimir Mogyla
8. Sergey Pugachev
9. Yuriy Strelnikov
10. Vladislav Terzyul.

Mstislav Gorbenko, Honored Master of Sport, the city of Odessa :

“… on the 5th of April, in accordance with the tactical plan of the expedition, two people appeared on the skyline with bamboo bunches tied on their backs for route marking. This was an advanced group; the other participants of the trek were spread over the Pungen gorge and by noon everyone got together in BC, which had been changed quickly. The team craftsmen had made an 8m long flagpole with a wooden stick and antenna. Vladislav Terzyul and a friend had built a sauna ? a unique construction on both sides of the Himalayas.


V. Terzyul builds sauna.

It was his favorite creation. His ingenuity was highly appreciated by our own and foreign climbers. One could get warm so quickly and recover after 5-7 days of work at high altitude. Next day the head of the expedition Valentin Simonenko and coach Vladimir Shumihin came firmly stepping into BC. So all the members of the expedition got together. The coach council outlined the members of the groups. In the first: Vladislav Terzyul was the leader, the members were Igor Chaplinsky, Nikolay Goryunov, and Yuriy Strelnikov. The second had Vadim Leontiev as leader, with members Sergey Pugachov and Michael Evchev. The third: Sergey Kovalev - leader, the members Aleksey Belkov and Vladimir Mogyla. We arrived at a decision to work on the route of Manaslu without taking into account the climb to P2 which was still closed, and spend 2-3 days exploring the approaches to the route and taking up some gear by members not busy on their days off.

April 7, the group consisting of M.Gorbenko, V. Terzyul, V. Leontiev, S.Kovalev and I.Chaplinsky speedily climbed the moraine hill to the height of 4650m, which towered above the Pungen gorge, using it as an excellent observation point. All the leading members of the expedition could see for themselves the main and reserve routes. Taking into account the condition of snow and ice this season on the SE face of Manaslu, the falling of huge avalanches, the movement of the hanging icefall upward which neatly covered practically all the rocky triangle of the SE face and the approaches to it, the decision was unanimously made to go more to the right of the SE face via the SE ridge including the Pinnacle. In other words, we planned to use the reserve route - it was really more safe, logically motivated, challenging and long. This proposal was supported by expedition head Valentin Simonenko. Next day all the sportive staff of the expedition under the head of Michael Zagirnyak began acclimatization ascents and delivery of the gear (15kg each) up to the elevation of 4700m. Radio communication between the groups was tested and found to be excellent.

During the firsts ascents we found approaches and outlined routes to Manaslu as well as to P2. In a short time ABC at 5000m and C1 at 5500m were established. Terzyul’s group first started work on the route of Manaslu. M. Zagirnyak and I corrected their way to the rocky “rhomb” from the slopes of P2. On the 13th of April it began to snow heavily; below it was thunderstorm. In the morning on April 15 Christ has arisen! We celebrated Easter in BC. At 10 am we witnessed a huge avalanche which covered the triangle of the SE face. This confirmed the correctness of our decision to change the route from the SE face to the SE ridge. Suddenly the group under the leadership of S. Kovalev came down from the route withnot finishing their part of the work. The coaches considered their action to be hasty.

April 17, after 5 days of bad weather, the sky cleared. BC had been covered with fresh snow. Despite unstable weather the work on the route didn’t stop for a day. Terzyul was restless and came out to work on the route with the even-tempered group of V.Leontiev. In BC Yuriy Strelnikov was sick. The head of the expedition, Valentin Simonenko, left BC for Kathmandu to negotiate the matter of opening P2 for climbing with the king of Nepal, then he continued to Kiev. Every day it was snowing in the mountains. In BC it melted quickly but higher it made the route much more difficult, increasing avalanche danger. But we didn’t stop work. On Manaslu during a heavy blizzard Terzyul’s group set down C2 at 6000m. In the evening the blizzard stopped. The sky was scattered with bright cold stars. We thought it possible that the weather would stabilize.
At 7:30 that morning, the sun dazzled the eyes. I observed by telescope that group one was doing morning exercises (at 6000m!), group 2 was pottering about in the bergschrund, and group 3 was moving intently to C2.
On April 25, the group under the head of S.Kovalev “saddled” the east ridge (C3) leading to the pinnacle and the summit. The altitude of the point of entry onto the east ridge appeared to be 6400m instead of 7000m as previously supposed according to the information of previous expeditions.



Manaslu, east ridge.

The snow condition made it possible to build snow caves and the climbers took advantage of that. All the intermediate camps, C1, C2, C3, had been settled in caves. The group of V.Leontiev came down to BC and said they could establish C4 at 6800m. On their way down via a couloir a stone caught M.Evchev and hurt his left hand. Doctor V.Lebedenko wrapped the hand in plaster. During the expedition I was forced twice to reprove Terzyul’s group for their violation of the schedule of radio communication. Strict discipline was necessary to ensure safety during our expedition.
Day by day our men worked hard on the route despite ugly weather, exhausting all their strength. Should all the groups refuse to go I could not blame them.

May 5. As if my thoughts were realized the weather changed abruptly. For the first time since April 17 conditions became sunny and stable. We should use the chance given us. The group under the leadership of S.Kovalev needed to set up the summit camp at 7400-7500m urgently. They had finished the third ascent, preparing for the fourth one – an assault. Taking into account the time and condition of the participants we could not afford a fifth attempt. People moving roped together over the ice and snow relief could easily be observed by telescope. S.Kovalev informed us that on the route above 7000m there were outcrops of flat rock slabs, scattered with snow powder. Both groups were exhausted. The maximum they were able to do was to fix ropes up to 7250m and leave a tent there. These circumstances didn’t make us enthusiastic. We hoped that the route would get easier upward, and that the pinnacle could be passed without preliminary equipping with fixed ropes. But by now the group of Terzyul had had six days to relax and recover.

May 12, 2001 - a remarkable day: Vladislav Terzyul, Igor Chaplinsky and Nikolay Gorunov went to assault the summit of Manaslu. By the evening, having climbed 1500m, they reached C1.
Downward in BC emotions flared. The members of the third group, taking into account the difficulties of further ascent, began to examine who was more adapted for high altitude. Obviously judgment was affected by the fatigue accumulated by 40 days of hard upward work. Having been rested a little in Samagoun Leontiev and Pugachev recovered their spiritual power and followed along the route roped together. M Evchev and Y.Strelnikov stayed in BC due to doctor’s recommendations. A native, Gurmi, arrived in BC and related that the Polish and Italian expeditions had stopped their activity on the normal route after reaching elevations of 7400m and 6400m respectively. On key pitches they had left fixed ropes, and the route was landmarked. It was very important information because we reserved descent by the normal route as an option.

Every day in BC started with building a fire and adding to it several sticks of juniper. The aroma embraced the camp and Tibetan prayers were offered up to Manaslu wishing good luck to the expedition: “Om mani padme hum…” At that time the most important events for the Ukrainian-Himalayas expedition on the mountain occurred. We observed every step of each of the three groups. Group 1 pulled up out of the snow the hundreds of meters of fixed ropes, and strictly in accordance with the plan had arrived at the end of the tracked part of the route and set up C5. Groups 2 and 3 were also troubled with icy fixed ropes, then occupied C4 and C3 accordingly.
Every day it was raining in BC and snowing upward. Despite that the work was not stopped. A brave attempt of group 1 to reach the Pinnacle and set up the summit camp failed. At last on the 18th of May the third attempt to do that was successful. The matter seemed finished but the mountain gave the next surprise.


An attempt to turn around Pinnacle to left.

Higher the route didn’t get easier. 150 meters upward the pinnacle became an insuperable obstacle. May 19, Terzyul and Gorunov, roped together, made a desperate attempt to assault the Pinnacle, but accumulated fatigue from high altitude and the growing difficulty of the route forced them to turn back. After this failure events in the expedition developed by leaps and bounds. Due to the delay of group 1 to reach the top group 3 caught up and then stayed, waiting. There was an option to change the leading group but discussing the matter V.Mogyla and A.Belkov could not agree. Then they joined I.Chaplinsky and N.Goryunov and began quickly to lose elevation. In C5 V.Terzyul, V.Leontiev, S.Kovalev and S.Pugachev remained. They proposed to bypass the pinnacle to the right and come out onto the plateau at approximately 7500m. I had to support this last chance to get an opportunity to climb; however, in this critical situation it would be possible to turn them back. But it was the proper moment to give spiritual support and revive hope for success.

May 20. The assault group had radio communication at 8:00 am when they started to detour the pinnacle to the right, and at 12:00 during the traverse. This day there was no more radio communication. Those were minutes and hours of agonizing suspense. Gray hair appeared on the temples and hearts were pained with anxiety - uncertainty in mountains always causes stress.In BC there arrived a messenger of the High Lama accompanied by Gurmi. He had visited the high land monastery in the region and now asked us to contact Kathmandu by satellite telephone in order to ask for a helicopter. When he wanted to pay for 5 min of talk I semi-seriously asked him to convey our request to the High Lama: that he wish good luck to our assault group climbing Manaslu. Probably at the moment it was much more precious than money.

At daytime in order to meet the other group going down Evchev and Strelnikov came out and met the guys on the glacier, unloaded them, and everyone came safely to BC by midnight. Next day we were in communication from early morning but only at 8:50 am we caught a weak signal from V.Leontiev: “We are in a tent at the height of over 7500m, it is snowing, no visibility. We don’t know what to do.” “Stand still!” - I had time to say those words only and communication failed for the day. The most important thing we had learned was that all of them were OK. At those situations it is important to wait for a “weather window” and keep health conditions under control to be able to move fast upward or downward. I was in permanent contact with Valentin Simonenko in Kiev who was very anxious about and responsible for each of us as the head of expedition. He said that in the Manaslu region there is a deadened area where radio communication has failed for many expeditions. The radio continued treacherously to keep silence, and time suspended agonizingly.


The Pinnacle, a view from upward.

May 22, 2001, Manaslu was in clouds, this was non-flying weather. At 8:15 am the hoarse voice of Vladislav Terzyul seeped through the air: “We are going to the summit! Three of us: me, Vadim Leontiev and Sergey Kovalev are assaulting the summit. The weather is good! Go to the monasteries and pray to keep the weather!” The miracle had occurred! The guys had enough strength and patience to seize the proper moment – the “window” in the weather. At 10:00 Vadim Leontiev informed us that he stood near the summit and saw Terzyul on the steep rocky ridge waiting for the rope. The sun was above the summit!
At 11:00 - SUMMIT!!! Tears of joy were in the men’s eyes - victory! We heard by radio hoarse dear voices of guys who reached the summit.


V.Terzyul on the summit of Manaslu.

V.Leontiev: “The leader of the group, Vladislav Terzyul, is unfolding the flag of Ukraine on the summit of Manaslu, 8163m!”
12.00 - All members of the group were on the way down. They decided to descend via the normal route. Pugachev, who stayed in summit camp, joined them on the route. They were faced with the task of a maximum drop in elevation before darkness. They had a shortage of time for descent, because we had booked air tickets for May 25 to go home via Kathmandu-Dubai-Odessa. At 18:00 Leontiev informed that the group was already at the altitude of 6300m(!), and there they prepared a site for the tent. It exceeded all my expectations.

In order to meet the summit team a group of four people went out - Mogyla, Evchev, Gorunov and Strelnikov, who started to ascend via the normal route from the upper part of Manaslu glacier.
On May 23 at 8:00 Terzyul’s group proceeded on their way down. The ascending group arrived at the elevation of 4500m. They established direct radio contact. Both directions had been complicated by poor visibility. The climbers needed to move by sight because exactly at that point Manaslu glacier has two icefalls and is covered with snow crevasses.
With difficulty radio contact was restored with the climbers via the Base radio station. They lost elevation only to 5600m, then got stuck in the icefall in the region of the first camp of the Polish expedition. At 16:00 they had descended to 5400m; by 18:00 to 5250m, where they reached landmarks. The opposite group got to 5050m, and by 19:00 -the two groups joined! All of us breathed freely.

At the same time Chaplinsky and Belkov made a risky trek to ABC then returned, carrying heavy burdens down to us. Then I called our Nepal agent Karma to confirm a helicopter for tomorrow morning at 7:00. The bustling day over, the expedition stuff was packed. In the night at 22:00 V.Mogyla informed us by radio that four climbers were very tired, they needed hot drinks and fresh batteries for their flashlights. Doctor and M. Zagirnyak went upward urgently. Then Chaplinsky and Belkov arrived, pretty exhausted, and went to sleep. At 1:00 in barged Sergey Kovalov, blackened by sun and very tired, then at 2:30 the other participants. In the garret of a lodge we laid the table for celebration, where gathered really happy people: Vladislav Terzyul, Vadim Leontiev, Sergey Kovalev, Sergey Pugachev and those who met them - Vladimir Mogyla, Nikolay Goryunov, Yuriy Strelnikov, Michael Evchev, Vladimir Lebedenko and Michael Zagirnyak. We still had the strength to drink a bottle of whisky, stored for a special event, to celebrate the success of the expedition. In several hours a helicopter forced its way through the clouds and soon we reached Kathmandu. As soon as we packed our luggage we left for Ukraine.”