We are working very hard at base camp. It’s cold, very cold, and the first days in altitude are always difficult. But the Manaslu looks at us from above and that comforts us. It is as if every morning it says good morning and every night it helps us to rest. It is the first and last thing we see every day. We look at its face and feel that the mountain does the same. We say hello each other. We respect each other. We have a great challenge ahead. We cant’t wait for it.

It has been a busy and intense first few days. It all started with a thousand-hour drive, continued with a lot of paperwork, and finally we arrived in Kathmandu. We spent 4 nights there, in which we took the opportunity to do logistics work (we organized more than 130 packs), legal work (we got the necessary permit for ascent) and do one of the most beautiful and rewarding things there is: helping local people. We did it thanks to various associations and NGOs that do a commendable job and that we know well from years ago. I love to contribute with my grain of sand, although I know that it cannot be compared with what they do. They do an impressive job. I write these lines and I can’t help but get excited

We donate computers to ‘SOS Himalaya Foundation: Iñaki Ochoa de Olza Foundation’, which works with the objective of finalizing the unfinished cooperation projects of the Navarrese mountaineer. We deliver several new laptops that will surely be usefull. And, as on previous occasions, we help also Udana Nepal Foundation, which was created with the purpose of preventing situations of injustice and inequality suffered especially by girls, women and the most vulnerable groups in impoverished areas such as Nepal.

We had a very beautiful and really exciting day with them. Udana Nepal team help a lot to a sector that is practically invisible in Nepalese society. We, for our part, take the opportunity to climb for a while with them in a climbing wall. I think they had a great time and did something different. Their smiles made our day so happy.

Finally, we got to know first-hand the work carried out by Hugging Nepal Foundation. We were lucky enough to see the work they do and, to be honest, it shocked us a lot. They feed people without resources, who thanks to the foundation are able to eat at least one quality meal a day. During the pandemic, they have had very long queues of people who had nothing to put in their mouths. This queue is called ‘the queue of shame’. In a country like Nepal the different social classes do not come together and, if they see you in that queue, it is because you are not doing well at all. Seeing all this has been a very hard but it’s the reality.

And after 4 days of paperwork, organizing cargos and learning about the work of these associations, we headed to Samagaun, last village before reaching Manaslu base camp, which is located at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters. This year we have decided to go up by helicopter and we have done it for several compelling reasons. The first because the health and safety measures advised it to do so. The less interaction we have with the people here, the better for them and for us. We cannot risk infecting them. Although we carried out several PCR tests throughout our stay in Kathmandu, it was advisable to have as little interaction as possible with the villages along the way.

On the other hand, we took advantage of the helicopter trip to help several elderly people and children to go down from Samagaun to Kathmandu (in total there were more than 30). Winter in Samagaun is very hard and being able to bring these people down to the capital has been very important. There they are more sheltered. If it hadn’t been for these helicopter trips, they would have taken a long time to walk down and many of them would have been forced to spend the winter in harsh conditions in this remote village.

Our stay in Samagaun also helped to gradually acclimatise us. We made short trekkings in the mountains and bivouacked one night at an altitude of 4,300 meters. It has been a beautiful night for us. Eneko and I were very comfortable.

At the moment we are working in our base camp, leaving everything ready. Our experience has taught us that setting up a good camp is one of the keys to success. As I said at the beginning, it is very cold. Last year we reached this same point in mid-January and we don’t remember these temperatures. But this is what we have come to. We will continue working hard. The Manaslu awaits us.