We are finally at Manaslu base camp. It wasn’t easy at all, really. After leaving Bilbao on New Year’s Eve, we landed in Nepal on January 1st. First we had to go through several bureaucratic procedures at the airport, then four-days quarantine (so long!) without leaving our hotel in Kathmandu, and some covid tests that the whole team had to do. To give you an idea of how complicated it was, my friend and climbing partner, the Italian Simone Moro, lost his flight in Italy due to the strict procedures he passed through. But we got it. The first stage is over and this beautiful mountain welcomes us with open arms!

Once the procedures indicated by the local authorities were completed, we had to reset all our stuff and the itinerary to make a shorter trekking, as quarantine we did had upset all our plans. At our hotel in Kathmandu we held an emergency meeting and rearranged everything in order to make the trip as short as possible. Because of this change we had to sacrifice a fundamental action in this type of expedition: acclimatization in altitude.

We valueted trekking period and adaptation to altitude and we were forced, in order to take advantage of good weather and because of our desire to leave, to shorten the trip. It was not an easy decision, as although I am a professional alpinist, I am accompanied by a team in which some members are not used to this type of adventure. But I think the decision was the right one and I’m very proud of all of them, because they reacted in an amazing way. Thank you very much, and congratulations!

Another important decision was to send the cargos to Samagaon, the last town before base camp, instead of transporting them directly by helicopter. And the reason is very simple: this region, which lives largely on tourism and expeditions, is suffering so hard the pandemic generated by COVID-19. And according to what several people told us, we have been the only foreigners in the area in recent months. Our idea was to employ people, to carry cargos and equipment from Samagaon to base camp, because people like me owe to local people a lot.

I know this is nothing more than a “gesture”, which will not solve the real problem, but I believe that if you can help with anyone in this life, you have the moral duty to do it. I knew what we were going to find before we arrived and it was our humble way of contributing. This gesture is for them.

With all the equipment loaded onto the helicopters, our journey to base camp began. First of all, we did a long trip by bus and 4×4 vehicles to Machhakholagaon, the gateway to a trekking that has taken us a week. After spending the night in this city, we took our backpacks and started walking. A journey through cities as Dohan, Bihim, Philim or Namrung, accumulating more than 3,500 meters of elevation gain.

The truth is that I remembered this trek very well but it didn’t stop surprising me. The weather was also helping us and the atmosphere was great. A tour that I recommend to everyone, with spectacular views. Of course, once again the hard reality showed us how much local people are suffering. For example, Lakpa, from “Lodge Thakli”, told me that since March we were the second group of tourists here, and this is terrible for a region that depends on people like us. He told me about it with a smile on his face, but he couldn’t hide his concern. It is curious to see how these people never lose their good humor and happiness. At least that’s what it looks like. They will hide their concern deep inside, I guess.

Motivated by his unbeatable attitude, we continued our journey laughing and telling anecdotes. I think we got along very well and for me this is fundamental. Complicated days will come and so to know each other in advance is very important. Everyone contributes in some way to the team atmosphere and I like watching the group walking towards the giant that’s waiting for us. We have reached base camp and we have a lot of work to do, but being here, in a so complicated situation like the current one, is already a reward. As well as seeing the group smile and the local people happy to see us.

Manaslu looks at us from above and we won´t miss it until we will have to leave for Bilbao. We hope with the same smile we are carrying from the beginning of this adventure. I’m sure it will be like that.