Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Friday, January 21, 2011

Manaslu Part 10

To go to Manaslu without Brian Sato was out of the question. Brian is a perfectionist and so far this trip was far from perfect. During the first two weeks of January 2002 we debated and discussed every detail of the trip, we speculated, criticized and praised. In the end the desire to climb an eight thousand meter peak and the realization that a “perfect” trip exists only within the mind trumped all other concerns and we both decided to commit ourselves fully to this expedition.

We had a small team which consequently demanded the complete and unwavering commitment of each member. Without an extraordinary effort by all involved, this trip wasn’t going to get past the dreamy talk overheard by the semi-drunk business travelers with whom we shared the lounge at the SeaTac Double Tree Inn. I desperately wanted this trip to happen and felt that the only way that we would even arrive at base camp would be through sheer force of will. This very critical decision seemingly went unnoticed by all of my teammates save Brian.


Grown men who play children’s games hold no stock with me, instead give me the great adventurers. Thesinger, Tillman, Shipton, Buhl, Unsoeld, Hornbein, these are the people who I aspire to emulate. When I committed to climb the world’s eighth highest mountain I vowed to arrive at base camp in the same manner as my heroes: fit, competent, and independent.

Brian had used indelible ink to inscribe the following quote on his foam sleeping pad; it’s by the alpinist Mark Twight :

“You must make yourself as indestructible as possible. The harder you are to kill, the longer you will last in the mountains.”

Good advice.

In order to reach the summit of Manaslu, and more importantly to come back down alive and intact, I knew that I must adopt a nearly psychotic attitude towards my fitness – not only physical fitness but technical and mental fitness as well.

The best way to train for climbing is to climb, and so I began carrying sixty pounds of water up Tiger Mountain - a three thousand foot hill near my house. I wore the same pack, boots, and clothing that I would take to the mountain in order to assess the fit and functionality of my personal gear. I ran endless cycles up and down the steepest and longest hills I could find and every morning I set a training goal and would not stop until it was reached. Occasionally I would force myself to exceed my prescribed goal. My rigid training schedule took its toll on my family.

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