Action on Two Nepal 6,000’ers: First Ascents or Not? Plus: Annapurna, Manaslu

Nepal’s Department of Tourism has released the season’s first list of climbing permits. At first sight, it looks discouraging: only 27 foreign climbers. But the figures are low because most expeditions have not yet signed in, including all the Everest and Lhotse teams.

So far, there are just 11 climbers for Annapurna and three more (Kristin Harila of Norway, her photographer Matias Myklebust, and Adriana Brownlee of the UK) for Manaslu.

List of climbing permits issued by March 16, 2023.

The initial list of climbing permits in Nepal.


Interestingly, there are permits for three 6,000’ers, and at least one of them may be unclimbed. Often, these peaks have little information about them, and sometimes confusion exists between several points on the same massif. Even the altitude may vary, depending on the source. Here is what we found out.

The 6,000’ers

A South Korean team outfitted by 8K Expeditions is heading to Pangri Goldumba (6,620m) in Langtang. Lakpa Sherpa, the head of 8K, told ExplorersWeb that it’s been climbed before, but that they couldn’t find a record of those ascents at the Department of Tourism. The Himalayan Database likewise doesn’t note any previous summiters.

“The Korean team will attempt the normal route,” Lakpa said.

The Korean team members pose in a lobby, with Khata scarves around their necks.

The members of the Pangri Goldumba expedition from South Korea. Photo: 8K Expeditions


Previous ascents uncertain

The mountain lies near the slightly better-known Goldum peak, which may lead to confusion about ascents. In any case, the climbers have chosen a quiet, scenic place at the head of the Kangtang Valley, right on the Tibetan border. Shishapangma looms to the northeast.

Pangri Goldumba, marked with an orange triangle, stands lower left, on the Tibetan border and near Goldum peak. Shishapangma lies upper right, within Chinese territory. Map: Camp to Camp



Another little-known 6,000’er, Surma Sarovar North stands in the Gurans Himal Range in western Nepal, not far from the Indian border. Nepal’s Department of Tourism lists it as 6,523m, while a local outfitter — which seems to be offering a commercial climb there — pegs it a little lower, at 6,397m.

As with Pangri Goldumba, there is no record of any previous ascent. The American Alpine Journal mentions a 6,523m peak called Surna Sarovar — likely the same one, despite the slight discrepancy in spelling — that authorities opened to climbing in 1998.

ExWeb writer KrisAnnapurna has found mention of an attempt on that peak in 2021 by John Kelley and Benjamin Lieber of the U.S. We don’t know if these two Americans are giving the peak a second try, but the permit is for two people.

Finally, Imagine Nepal chose 6,144m Thorong Peak to acclimatize its clients before they head to Annapurna I. It’s not far from the well-known Thorong La, the highest point of the popular Annapurna trek.

In the end, the climbers only reached 5,800m, “but that is already higher than Annapurna’s Camp 2, which is below 5,200m,” leader Mingma G told ExplorersWeb. According to him, Annapurna teams usually acclimatize just to Camp 2. They only reach Camp 3 on their summit push.

Snowy thorong peak as seen from the wide, barren col known as Thorong La, with a small lodge and some people on it.

Thorong Peak from Thorong La. Photo: Walking & Climbing blog

Annapurna and Manaslu

EliteExped climbers — the first on Annapurna — were in Camp 2 yesterday. They could be ready for a summit attempt on their next foray up the mountain, once the ropes are fixed. Conditions are quite tricky at the moment. Recent snow has brought frequent avalanches. Tejan Gurung of EliteExped filmed one of them from Camp 2:

Meanwhile, Base Camp continues to fill with climbers. Notable among them, Sajid Sadpara of Pakistan, who will climb with Seven Summit Treks. It’s unclear how quickly those newly arrived climbers will be ready to go for the summit.

On Manaslu, Harila and Brownlee have changed their usual constant news feed for social media silence. They have shared no details on their current expedition, but their trackers locate them in Camp 1, the Alpymon blog reports.

Finally, several teams are ready to set off for Makalu, one of the most popular 8,000’ers this season.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.