Éric Bonnem: "Offering 8,000 meter vertices ascents remains a business of enthusiasts"

Éric Bonnem: "Offering 8,000 meter vertices ascents remains a business of enthusiasts"

This fall, the readers of the mountain site Magazine were able to follow the trip of Expeditions Unlimited on the Manaslu. Éric Bonnem, fondateur de Secret Planet (maison-mère d'Expeditions Unlimited), revient pour nous sur leurs trois semaines d'expédition sur la huitième plus haute montagne du monde.

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Éric Bonnem this fall at the manaslu.© Pascal Pompei / Expeditions Unlimited

It was the first expedition to high altitude.Can you tell us about your personal impressions, to start?

Yes, it was indeed my first 8000.First, our group of mountaineers was incredibly warm and united, whether French or Nepalese people, and collective confidence in the event we were going to live a great adventure quickly established itself.The time of acclimatization, which lasted a big fortnight, went to a crazy speed, as the profiles of each other were rich andvariated, with fascinating discussions and Beloteanimée parts.Our local team was very caring with us, and vice versa.Toutse presented under the best auspices for our summit attempt.

The manaslu was for ourselves alone with the Russian exhibition of Rustam Nabiev, mountaineer amputated from the two legs, the twenty other teams who finished a few days auction.The mountain was starting to take on afternoon snow, but the weather remained stable with very little wind.Finally, 14 of the Entre reached us the summit, 5 French including one without oxygen [Pascal Pompei, editor's note], and 9 Nepalese.To see us all up there gave me a hugeplaisir, especially since everyone seemed to be in good shape, in this unreal this.

Regarding me, I of course felt a feeling of the accomplishment when I arrived at the top, as well as a great pride in auxerenalized this with a super group, united, and because the whole Denos Nepali Leaders also pumped.The summit part of the manaslu is quite impressive, narrow with its snowy cornices, also sublime.Toutsemble in balance without knowing too much if it is stable!Arrived up there, we already think of the descent for which we will have to be concentrated.We then went back to camp 3 (6,800 meters) the same day then to the base camp the next day and it was of course.Finally, I was relieved that everyone is back in shape, because everyone is aware that at these altitudes, everything can slip very live, whatever the physical, technical or experienced qualities.

Does that change something, on site, to be founder of the agency organizing the expedition?

My ambition was to fully experience this rare infounture as a joint mountaineer of the group, which I managed to do 90 %of the time!Our Nepalese teams who gave me "boss!""Were however there to remind me that I was not completely like other participants.And then, we have a lot of work upstream of this expedition with David [David Ducoin, Chef Desector Himalaya at Secret Planet, editor's note].We have developed an experience and an in-depth knowledge of all the subjects that interest these high altitude projects, whether it is the mountain itself, keyjeux like the route, acclimatization, medical, weather, weather,laastrategia, equipment, etc..

I was therefore associated with all important decision -making.With in the leading roles, Dawa Lamabothe and Clément Flouret, chiefs of expeditions respectively local and French, we have completed.Then, I had a responsibility party, of course, concerning the security of the group, our obsession.For example, it was not possible for me not to take oxygen, I could physically have it, because I had to keep the most unlocked, if possible until the summit, in casedifficult decisions should be made.A form of pressure, finally, whether we like it or not, because I engaged in the image of the agency and our ability to succeed in this type of ambitious and committed.That said, and I repeated it having been myself, we had the chance to form an incredible collective on Ladurée, within the group of participants and with the Nepalese team.And that greatly things.

© Éric Bonnem / Expeditions Unlimited

Can you tell us more about the atmosphere at the Debase camp: how many expeditions were there?What are your relationships with other agencies, to distribute ascents and manage the cordsfixes, in particular?

In fact, the base camp at 5000 meters seemed to me quite large.We were the highest camp, on apromontoire, and quite isolated from the rest of the expeditions.Between the top and the bottom, 45 minutes round trip separated us, which was not to displease it was all won towards camp 1 (5,900 meters)!Each expression goes to its rotations and the camp often seems empty.Remain the kitchen teams and some support functions.

We have goodrelations with many Western and Nepalese agencies and we know well.We meet either during the rotations on the Altitude camps, or at the base camp, when we go entirely to be able to be towards the WiFi antenna at the bottom!The French present on Lemanaslu quickly identified us and I spent some time with Jonathanlamy, with Vadim Druelle or Jonathan Kubler, as well as other mountaineers..In total, this year there was to be around 180scensionists this year and therefore roughly the same number of Nepalese guides, plus kitchen and support teams, probably 500 people for a vestine of expeditions.No particular distribution of climbs.First come first served!

Seven Summit Treks was chosen by the authorities to equip the manaslu, with a line of vie that at the top and fixed ropes or ladders in the earlier parts and/or well open crevasses.From the moment they finished equipping it at the top, they naturally offer the summit the first (!), Then the other teams tumble!They a little refine the equipment of the Mountain Fur and when the rotations - put two strings here on thisraide part for the ascent and for the descent rather than one, reinforce a ladder, because such a crevasse is widening.Overall, they do a work.

I sometimes hear about "fixed strings to the top", it's a shortcut ... if I can say!The fixed strings are where there are technical and desecurity issues, as has always been the case in all mountain expeditions, the former equips for the latter.The rest of the equipment is a lifestyle that makes it possible not to get lost in the event of deterioration of LAMETEO, and to which we follow ourselves for safety, because the evolution is arose with beautiful crevices below.

I was also surprised by the number of mountaineers who evolve alone on the mountain.People are progressing in ropes, except perhaps during the Summit Push and from Camp 4 (7,400meters).This growing individual approach to these shipments gives a flexibility to the participants to the detriment of security and a shared adventure.

How did your shipment organize for rotations, altitude camps and the choice of the date of the Summit Push?

We started by Untrek of 8 -day acclimatization who roughly making half of the manaslu tour, passing to the Larkya Pass at 5,100 meters, which allowed us to put in legs and prepare ourselves to live at the base camp5,000 meters.The other expeditions arrived by helicopter directly in Samagaon (3,500 meters) and made a few days of acclimatization on the surrounding youth.

Then, as the weather and snow conditions were generally favorable, with little wind especially, we were not upset compared to the strategy that we had conceived.A first rotation with a climb to camp 1 (5,900 meters) taking a first night at a “0.5” camp mounted by us around 5,400 meters - we have not seen other expeditions to this campsort which is used wellProgressive acclimatization.

From there, our also continued: we push a little around 6,000 meters, then return to camp 1 for a second night and return camp of base camp.Break of a day, then second rotation to camp 3 (6,800 meters).Night at camp1, night at camp 2 (6,400 meters), night at Camp 3, then direct return to Camp Debase.3 p.m. accumulated to go up, 6 hours to go down.Strong passages between camp 1 and camp 3.

After this rotation, two days of rest are planned.A third day is invited due to gastroes in the Nepali Leaders team.However, it should not be dragged too much because it seems that the wind begins in Monterdans five days.It would be a shame to miss the check mark with the windowless window that we had.So we leave the next day for the Summit Push.Always so little wind planned Ausommet, a little snow that falls regularly in the afternoon, but which still poses a problem at this stage.

We are therefore on September 29 when we leave this time directly for camp 2.We quickly realize that we are one of the last two shipping the mountain, probably because we have treated our acclimatization more, taking into account the will of some of our participants to want to try the summit without ox.And it pays, most of us feel perfectly for all altitude camps.And what luck!We have the manaslup on us alone!The altitude camps are empty.

Camp 2 then, then camp 3 where we spend one night, then camp 4 to 7,400 meters.Finally, departure around 1 until morning for the summit that we reach around 8:30 a.m. on October 2, 2021.After spending more than an hour at the top, return to camp 4.We are increasing the Russian shipment that rises.One hour or two rest at camp 4, then compulsory down to the lower camps.It was finally at camp3 that we will spend the night.And finally, base camp the next day.Camp Baseni also emptied.A final rotation for the summit which will therefore have all five days.

The photo taken in the drone of Jackson Groves makes it possible to illustrate wonderfully the problem of the "real summit", here with the annotations of the Himalayan Database: 4 represents the summit, Shelf 2 The point where the vast majority of ascension S 'Stopped so far.© Jackson Groves/ The Himalayan Database

This autumn at the manaslu was marked by a joke, photos taken in the drone clearly showing that the alleviationists stop before the real summit.What analysis do you do in this episode, you were on the spot?

At the origin of this polemic, it is the statements of Mingma Gyalgye, a great mountaineer, who reaches the "real" summit of Manaslu on September 27, moment immortalized by photos of Jackson Groves drone.From our cut, we started at that time our Summitpush and it was only back in France that we have taken it before.And we were surprised, both by the extent of this polemic, and of the tone that certain specialized, French and Anglo-Saxon media, especially on the web, used, treating most mountaineers Ayantatteint since 1956 of liarsand impostors.

I understand the economic need for visibility of these media by touting titles, but all of them ... that demonstrates on their part is an elitist part of contemptuous, stunned with gross ignorance of the subject, surely a bit of both!The question of the summit tolerance zone arises on many 8000, Dhaulagiri Etannapurna in particular.

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Regarding the manaslu, Ilexist a very good summary article on "the" summits of Tobias Pantel of 8000ers.com that can be found online.So indeed, all those who are interested in the question know that there are a summit in which the vast majority of the ascensionist will stop and the "real" summit, about three to seven meters, sometimes accessible, sometimes not,depending on whether it is equipped and the weather and the weather and snow allow.It is even written black on white on the documents that we give to our customers.

It is true that the "real" summit position is not obvious to represent a perceux which go up for the first time and it is one of the merits of the photos of Jacksongroves to have clarified this point.For the amateurs we are, the objective of which is not to bring our names into the history of mountaineering, this tolerance suits us naturally, security prevailing throughout the.And she was admitted by all, and in particular by the prestigious Himalayan Database of the late Elisabethhawley.

When we arrived ausommet this year, materialized by prayer flags and the end of the cordesfixes, where "everyone" stops, he had an ambiguity of it on the fact that we arrived there.It should be noted that beyond where we stopped (point that we call Shelf 2 against the summit C2), we cannot see what is derived, unlike what the photos of Drone show, taken from UNANGLEvery different.On these certainly incredible images, the real Sommestaprait massively higher, which it is not.

The Himalayan Database, a justice of the peace in the matter, decided to grant the summit in 2021 to those who went to where we stopped on ourselves seems to say that it would be the last year.Next year, you should go to the real summit (C4) to validate the summit, but it is still possible to be possible in acceptable safety conditions.Let us appease this little sterile debatun by reminding us that the manaslu comes from Sanskrit which means "Lamontagne de l'Emré" or, "Mountain of the Spirit".

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If you had to go back to the manaslu, what would change for you?Would you go to the real summit?

I hope we are going to return to Manaslu, in the fall of 2022 or 2023.For having discussed it with Nosamis Nepalese, it is clear that everything will now be done to equip Lamontagne to the "real" summit (C4), since from 2022, only this summit would be validated.From what I see, in any case this year, going to the summit was technically achievable for most mountaineers prescribed.But it seems that it is far from being the case every year.

The manaslu is probably 8000 which presents a most different summit profile between fall and spring, from one year to the next, etc..What will be the state of snow in a year?How will the cornices be?Will we be able to equip this last part?How will sucette terminal parties meet?In conclusion, from the moment the real real., probably by the same route as that Quemingma Gyalgye borrowed this year.

And if these conditions are not met, I think we should keep for enlightened amateurs that we are, who represent the vast majority of mountaineers on these summits, current tolerance and consider the reaches, where it then becomesengage.This controversy must not create the drama conditions to come.

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© Éric Bonnem / Expeditions Unlimited

Do you see an increasing craze for the 8,000 meters?

We actually see that Lenomrets participants regularly increases on all the peaks to more than 8,000, but it is above all a new clientele from countries in transition (China, India, Russia, ex-USS, Brazil, etc..), moreover, almost entirely entered by Nepalese actors, in particular our friends from Seven Summit Treksqui had to take more than third party!

I do not think that the number of candidates out of 8000, around twenty French people every year, a few since Europeans, increased significantly during the Last year.I often read in some media that there would be a "business" of the 8000.We need to explain to me where it is!I estimate that a large thousand the number of ASCESSIONISTS each year on all 8000, of which almost half the Everest.It doesn't do much worldwide.Not to mention the margins generated on projects with many hazards.No, proposing 8,000 -meter vertex climbs remains a deprivated affair.

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