Manaslu Alpine Style: French Trio to Attempt Rare West Side

Instead of joining the crowds on the normal northeast route, Helias Millerioux, Charles Dubouloz, and Symon Welfringer have come in the rain to the mountain’s wild west side. They reached Base Camp on the Changli Glacier at 4,200m today.

“We have very little information [on the side we want to climb]. It could end up being impossible or too dangerous for us,” Millerioux wrote on social media.

The French team’s Base Camp location on Google Maps, as indicated by Millerioux.

At Base Camp, a gigantic mountain face looms in front of them. They will wait for better weather before getting closer and studying the face. Then they will decide the best route to the top of the rocky pillar that runs from the base of the mountain to 7,100m.

Location of the Changli Glacier and the Manaslu massif, compared to the Manaslu Glacier and the normal route’s Base Camp on the northeast side of the mountain. Map: Mapcarta


‘Only dead fish go with the flow’

Millerioux was surprised that their expedition is considered “offstream” simply because they chose an exploratory, alpine-style approach. As Millerioux said, alpine style is the logical way to climb a mountain. “Only dead fish go with the flow,” the 2018 Piolet d”or winner wisecracked.

Helias Millerioux earlier this week on the approach trek. Photo: Helias Millerioux


They have not revealed the exact line that they intend to climb, but few dare Manaslu’s west side because of its difficulty and inaccessibility.

Manaslu's wind-swept summit as seen from the west.

Manaslu’s west side. Photo by Benjamin Vendrines on Helias Millerioux’s FB


The first route up that side (after the Japanese succeeded on the Northwest Spur in 1971) was opened by Pierre Beghin and Bernard Muller of France in 1981. Their expedition was pure adventure, from the approach across the Mudh Khola Valley to the climb itself. Uncertainty and danger marked every leg of the experience. Read Behgin’s report on the Himalayan Club website.

Helias’s team is just posting short updates; details will have to wait.

The 1981 French route up Manaslu’s west side. Photo: Himalayan

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.