How Manaslu’s True Summit Has Changed the Game

Nepal’s Department of Tourism has issued 383 climbing permits for Manaslu to foreign climbers, as of September 12. Some days ago, Mingma G said that he expected over 700 climbers on the mountain this season. If the numbers keep rising at the current rate, even his astonishing estimate may fall short.

List of Nepal peak's and number of permits for each.

Climbing permits, issued by Nepal’s Department of Tourism.


Seven Summit Treks, the biggest outfitter, itself expects 350 individuals. This includes climbers, Sherpas, high altitude workers, and camp staff in what they call their Manaslu BC City. 8K Expeditions has over 50 confirmed climbers, distributed over several teams.

Outfitters will hurry to finish these Manaslu expeditions since personnel must soon leave to work on other mountains, especially Dhaulagiri and Ama Dablam. Others will head for Cho Oyu, where the Nepalis are intending to open a new commercial route from Gokyo, on the rarely climbed Nepal side of the mountain. They plan to take clients with them.

hundreds of tents orderly set in lines on Manaslu's base camp, all on rocky terrain. A cloud-covered valley is seen in background.

SST’s sprawling Manaslu BC. Photo: Seven Summit Treks


A disorienting experience

Toshiyuki Jamada of Japan plans to climb Manaslu in a single push from Base Camp to summit. For a normally independent climber like Jamada, the bustle is all a bit confusing.

“There are more than 700 people among Sherpas and foreign climbers, and the BC is so comfortable that I could live here forever,” he told his home team.

Nevertheless, Yamada dragged himself out of his comfy chair and made it to Camp 1 and back on a first acclimatization round. A second round up to Camp 2, for Yamada and other climbers who also reached C1, is in the offing.

Japanese Toshiyuki Yamada stretches on an inflatable coach in a huge dome tent, with artificual grass floor and transparent walls.

Toshiyuki Yamada kicks back in a modern, industrial-scale Manaslu Base Camp. Photo: Yamada/Japan Alpine Club


Flor Cuenca of Peru climbed Manaslu in 2017 but she is back this year to reach the actual summit. Cuenca recently climbed K2 without oxygen and later denounced the tons of trash piling up in the higher camps.

Like Cuenca, many climbers working on their 14×8,000m list want to remove any ambiguity from their claim by reaching the very top of Manaslu, not the foresummit where everyone has stopped for years.

Closer scrutiny of summits

Detailed studies of the summit area by Eberhard Jurgalski and his team have concluded that only three men have truly summited all 14 8,000m peaks. Not surprisingly, this has created a heated controversy in the mountaineering world.

Most of those who climbed all the 8,000’ers in the past dismissed the new, stricter criteria, including eminence grise Reinhold Messner. Few plan to repeat Manaslu or any other controversial 8,000m summit, such as Dhaulagiri and Annapurna.

The situation is different for Sherpa guides. For them, the option to add these summits to their resumés is a valuable asset.

Mingma Gyabu “David” Sherpa is leading the rope-fixing team on Manaslu, then heads to Dhaulagiri. Photo: Mingma David


According to The Himalayan Times, two Sherpas are aiming to correct their records this season: Nima Gyalzen of Dolma Outdoor Expedition will go for Manaslu’s summit, and Mingma David of Elite Exped intends to reach the highest point of Dhaulagiri, once he finishes his work on Manaslu. He and Yukta Gurung are leading the rope-fixing team.

Mingma David is currently the youngest ever 14×8,000m summiter. He climbed Dhaulagiri with Nirmal Purja in 2019. But according to Jurgalski’s research, the team stopped 60m shy of the summit on that occasion.

As for Purja, Jurgalski notes that he did stand on the highest point of Dhaulagiri last year, which makes him one of the three actual 14×8,000m summiters in history, although he achieved that goal not in six-plus months, but in 2 years, 5 months and 5 days.

Meanwhile, Nima Gyalzen has not yet reached Manaslu’s true summit. According to Jurgalski, he also needs to provide solid evidence of his Shishapangma summit.

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.