It's been almost three weeks since the Manaslu expedition concluded, and I've needed that much time to process things.
It was excruciating to watch from the telescope other teams make their way to camp 4, and eventually summit. Selfishly, I wanted them to safely not make it.
Looking back, I believe that we made the best decision that we could with the information that we had at the time. Other teams assessed that same information and felt that the risk was worth it, and for most of them, it worked out. It doesn't do any good now to second-guess. I'm still disappointed that I wasn't able to achieve my goals, but coming home safely is always the ultimate goal, and I can say that I accomplished that. Edward Whymper's quote from the 1800s puts things in perspective:
"Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end."
There are some things that I would have done differently to prepare. I wish that I had spent some time at the climbing gym on easy routes with a 20 pound pack. I think that I would have been better prepared for moving up the steep fixed lines. I also would have spent more time on the treadmill using the Hypoxico with a weighted pack. For some reason on Manaslu, I didn't feel as acclimatized as I hoped to, so I think that more time working in a hypoxic environment would have helped.
I feel like I had all of the right gear, and was really grateful for the giant tube of neosporin that I smeared all over my face when it was sunburned.
So what is next? I don't like the feeling of not achieving a goal, so my plans are to head back the the Himalaya in the spring if possible. I don't think that I will return to Manaslu, though. There are lots of other beautiful and challenging peaks that I would like to experience ... Makalu, Lhotse?