Manaslu: Massive Push Is On

The summit (or foresummit?) that Sherpa rope fixers reached last night has put many Manaslu teams on the go. And they’re going fast.

As a commenter noted yesterday, an 8,000m summit once marked the final achievement after a long expedition. Now, it’s just the starting gun on highly commercialized mountains.

The unusual summit time of 9:45 pm also marks the changing times. Some years ago, teams launched their final summit pushes with a deadline. When it passed, they turned back for safety reasons. Continuing into the night is only possible with vast supplies of oxygen and high flow rates.

Even more surprising: Successful climbers Sona Sherpa, Ngima Tashi Sherpa, Tenging Gyaljen Sherpa, Fura Tshering Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, and Tashi Sherpa were all back in Base Camp by 4 am local time today.

This shows not only their remarkable strength but their approach: Either they need to leave room for clients in the high camps and/or they have to get back down in order to go up again as guides.

The sky had cleared at Manaslu’s Base Camp by sunset today. Photo: Tashi Lhakpa Sherpa/Seven Summit Treks


Meanwhile, a wave of climbers has now left BC, intending to summit on Monday. Seven Summit Treks says that over 40 people are between Camp 1 and Camp 3, with 200 more making their final preparations in Base Camp.

Elite Exped and Climbing the Seven Summits, for example, will reach Camp 1 tonight, skip Camp 2, and make Camp 3 tomorrow. “Then on toward the summit,” they say. 8K Expeditions hope to top out on Tuesday.

Forecasts show mixed weather over the next few days, with weakening winds and improved conditions by Sunday evening through Tuesday.

When and how much oxygen?

Also remarkable compared to expeditions of 10 or 20 years ago is how quickly climbers acclimatize and climb up and down the mountain. The massive use of supplementary oxygen is largely responsible. We asked guide Jon Gupta about this before he left for the summit with client Lhakpa Wongchu and another Sherpa climber. They aim to summit on Monday. You can track their progress here.

Jon Gupta’s location in Camp 1 today. Map:


“Most teams are happy with one main acclimatization rotation,” Gupta said. “They then rest at Base Camp before starting their summit push. It seems that those using oxygen are content with three or four nights sleeping on the mountain.”
He added that most sleep two nights each at Camps 1 and 2, then tag Camp 3 before descending. Those going without O2 add an extra night in Camp 3 and tag a little higher before returning to Base Camp to rest.

Climbers rest and check gear in Base Camp. Photo: Climbing the Seven Summits


Gupta thinks that Manaslu is a “pretty popular mountain for folks to attempt without O2 because of its altitude [8,183m, in the bottom half among the 14 8,000m peaks]. It has a relatively easy summit day and generally low technicality.”
Still, few climbers this year are going without bottled oxygen. So far, only three have confirmed: Anna Tybor of Poland, and Martin Ramos and Jorge Egocheaga of Spain. More might join them if conditions are good on summit day.
Gupta and his team plan to use oxygen beginning at Camp 3 and to keep a low flow rate until Camp 4. “From C4 to the summit and back, we’ll go with a normal flow of two to three litres per minute,” he said.