Manaslu Summit Push: Most Turn Back, a Handful Continue

Seizing a short period of slightly better weather, many Manaslu teams set off from their rainy Base Camp over the last three days. They hoped to complete their acclimatization and perhaps, if conditions permitted, turn it into a summit push. However, conditions have been hazardous due to fresh snow. Most of those who reached Camp 3 have decided to turn around. But not all of them.

“Too much, too deep snow,” Lakpa Sherpa of 8K Expeditions told ExplorersWeb. “Yet, a group of 8K Sherpas has managed to open the trail almost to Camp 4 today, so we are going to try.”

The 8K Expeditions lead group includes Kristin Harila, Pasdawa Sherpa, Dawa Ongchu Sherpa, Vijya Kumar of India, Alexandra E.K. from Norway, and Lakpa T. Sherpa.

A line of tiny yellow tents on a huge snowy ridge or gigantic proportions, clouds in background.

Camp 3 on Manaslu yesterday. Photo: Furtenbach Adventures

Loop or out and back?

“We may set up a second line of ropes on the final section,” 8K Expeditions leader Lakpa Sherpa told ExplorersWeb.

He explained that the ropes have been fixed along Mingma G’s 2021 line, known as the Rolwaling Diversion. This descends, then traverses a steep snow slope until just below the highest point, then goes straight up.

Earlier, Mingma G suggested that the way to the summit should be different from the descent route to lessen traffic jams, and Lakpa agrees.

“I believe the true summit point can also be reached by following the ridge,” he said.

That will depend on conditions, which are currently not ideal because of the wet snow along most of the route. Yet we won’t know until summit day whether that arete or even the lower one-way option is manageable. And if so, for how many?

The suggested loop on Manaslu’s final section, drawn over the 2021 drone photo by Jackson Groves/Journey Era. The Rolwaling Diversion refers to the lower section only.

 

Some repeat Manaslu clients are climbing without supplementary O2, which may be difficult if crowds jam the upper slopes, forcing long waits. For their own safety, those going without bottled oxygen need to get up and down as quickly as possible.

At least, most of the no-O2 crowd will have Sherpa support, meaning a bottle and mask could be available for emergencies. As we mentioned in a previous story, it is what is known as psychological oxygen. The climbers try to push their physical limits but avoid the mental pressure of crossing a point of no return.

Not everybody summit-bound

A large number of climbers are also on their way up but do not intend to push for the summit quite yet. The Climbing the 7 Summits (CT7S) team is on its way to Camp 3 for its final acclimatization round. After a night there, the group will head down to Base Camp. Since a metre of fresh snow covers the mountain, they prefer to wait for better conditions. Furtenbach Adventures and Glacier Himalaya teams are also back in BC after a night in Camp 3.

Climbers on Manaslu. Photo: Tomi Ceppi/Climbing the 7 Summits

After Manaslu

Grace Tseng of Taiwan is currently in Base Camp, also waiting to attempt the summit. She is trying to become the youngest woman to complete the 14×8,000’ers and needs to reach the true summit. Manaslu was her first 8,000m climb in 2019, but at that time, she only reached the end of the fixed ropes.

Afterward, she needs only to climb the Tibetan 8,000’ers. But like Kristin Harila, she has not yet obtained permission to enter China. In the meantime, she will try to attempt Cho Oyu from Nepal.

aerial view of base camp tents

8K Expeditions Base Camp, Manaslu. Photo: 8K Expeditions

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer 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.