Boldness or Foolhardiness? For Many, the Summit Push on Manaslu Continues

Would you try to reach a snowy, 8,163m summit two days after an avalanche hit 12 to 14 people and killed one?

From a safety point of view, you would need to check conditions very carefully, especially since more snow has fallen in the last two days. Ethically, it is about values and motivations.

A significant number of climbers on Manaslu have decided to risk it.

Elite Exped’s rope-fixing team was in Camp 4 yesterday when the avalanche struck. Previously, they had climbed to the summit for a second time this season, in order to secure a second line of ropes to the true summit — one line to get there and a different one to return.

Today, they also re-installed the ropes between Camp 4 and Camp 3 that the avalanche had swept away. This means that the route is open again and ready for the many climbers heading for the summit in the next few days.

Most teams are moving up slowly, hoping to let the snow settle over the next few days of expected good weather. Assuming conditions remain stable, the problem on everyone’s mind is the crowds. For that reason, a few have chosen — like yesterday’s group that ran into trouble with the avalanche — to go up quickly. Some could be above Camp 4 by now. So summits are expected in the next few hours.

Barring more avalanches.

Snowing again

“The fact is, it is snowing again,” Warner Rojas of Costa Rica told ExplorersWeb. “The feeling among some of us, observing conditions, is that this happened on Manaslu before, in 2012, and could happen again.” Eleven climbers died in an avalanche that year.

Rojas is among many who climbed up to Camp 1 yesterday but returned to Base Camp after hearing about the avalanche. They are now weighing their options. Some teams are considering canceling their expeditions altogether.

Other climbers are determined to forge on. Among them is Adriana Brownlee, guided by Gelje Sherpa. She feels that she has “unfinished business” with the mountain. She made it to the foresummit last year and wants to reach the true summit by October 2.

Brownlee is currently pursuing the record for the youngest woman to complete the 14×8,000’ers. She is currently 21.

None of the larger outfitters have said that they plan to cancel their attempts. However, they have set no summit date either, just stating that they will proceed safely.

Yet a significant number of climbers are setting off for the higher camps. Some reached Camp 3 today and could summit before the end of the week. It is unknown how many are in the current push. But those who were already in Camp 4 when the avalanche struck and did not retreat could even summit tomorrow.

Furtenbach team members in deep snow yesterday. Photo: Furtenbach Adventures/Facebook


Meanwhile, the Furtenbach Adventures group, guided by Dave Watson, has returned to Base Camp. The group was in Camp 3 yesterday and pitched in to help those caught in the avalanche.

Furtemba Sherpa of World Sherpas has decided to cancel his expedition. A Sherpa on that team injured his leg in the avalanche. However, Furtemba writes that one of his clients is already in Camp 4 and will try to summit tomorrow.

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.