Manaslu: Record Crowds on the Way

Manaslu climbers have flocked to Kathmandu and are currently boarding helicopters to Samagaon, the last village before the hike to Base Camp. Nepal’s Department of Tourism has granted 255 permits so far. At this pace, the final number could break previous records.

The huge Base Camp at 5,600m is ready for the crowds. Sherpas and other crew have fixed the route to Camp 1 at 6,400m and set up tents. Guide Abiral Rai reports many crevasses at the icefall between the two camps.

Three climbers walk up on a snow-loaded mountain flank, under a partly cloudy sky.

On the way to Manaslu’s Camp 1. Photo: Abiral Rai

 

Manaslu is the autumn favorite for many reasons. It features lots of space for supersized expeditions and it’s a straightforward route until the final section. Those able to negotiate that final ticklish traverse to the highest point will come away with a flawless summit claim, unlike thousands of previous Manaslu climbers. Not long ago, Manaslu’s real summit was a sort of urban legend. Now it is a must for record-seekers.

Harila lobbies for entry to China

Kristin Harila is back in Kathmandu, also for Manaslu, but is not yet ready to leave for the mountains. Tops on her agenda this week are what she calls “some exciting meetings”. This can only relate to her attempts to get permission to enter China to climb Shishapangma and Cho Oyu.

Based on her past performance, this seems to be her only stumbling block to completing all 14 8,000’ers in record time. She admitted to ExplorersWeb that she has not yet gained permission to enter China.

 

Kristin Harila sits down on a railing in an urban environment, somewhere in Oslo.

Kristin Harila last week in Oslo, during a short break at home between Pakistan and Nepal. Photo: Kristin Harila

 

Harila would prefer to climb Shishapangma and Cho Oyu by their normal routes. As Plan B, she could always try Cho Oyu from Nepal, where a number of climbers will try to open a new route in November. But that would still leave Shishapangma undone.

Kami Rita, with head-set and cap, takes a selfie in the cabin of a helicopter, with gear packed in white bags and piled at his back.

Twenty-six-time Everest summiter Kami Rita Sherpa, on his way to Manaslu in a heavily loaded helicopter.

The learning peak

Some climbers heading for Manaslu admit that this will be their “first mountain ever”. While we are not sure how literal this statement may be, Manaslu is considered an “easy” 8,000er. With Shishapangma and Cho Oyu’s normal routes from Tibet closed to foreigners since COVID, it is probably the best peak for a first experience at high altitude.

This year, however, it remains to be seen how many of the projected hundreds of clients can be led along the final section to the true summit. Elite Exped is in charge of fixing the ropes this season. Most teams will follow to the highest point the lead team reaches. Yet we pointed out previously, some leaders are pondering alternative routes in case of crowding.

Gesman Tamang also believes Manaslu is a great place to learn and in particular, to prepare for Everest. However, in the above video that he recorded on Manaslu in 2020, the clients are not exactly learning by doing. Sherpas literally put their clients’ crampons on.

Yamada joins the fast-track trend

Japanese-Canadian Toshiyuki Yamada is preparing for a fast ascent of Manaslu, a growing trend among some young, highly skilled climbers.

“I want to step on the summit in one day with only a small pack on my back,” Yamada revealed before leaving Calgary. Apparently, the climber has been planning a fast climb with no particular peak in mind but finally chose Manaslu as his goal.

Toshiyuki Yamada smiles openly and shows his chack-covered hand , granite rock at his back.

Toshiyuki Yamada rock climbs near Calgary before leaving for Nepal. Photo: Toshiyuki Yamada/Instagram

 

Yamada left for Samagaon today. He will share Base Camp logistics with Mingma G’s Imagine Nepal team.

“I will not be climbing with him, but being in an environment where I can listen to his high-altitude tactics and knowledge will be a very valuable experience,” Yamada said.

Gyorffy Akos of Hungary will climb Manaslu, then try a ski descent — presumably not from the actual summit. Skiers Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison are also in Nepal for some “skiing adventures”. The pair, who skied down Lhotse in 2018, has just reached Base Camp on an unspecified peak.

Independent climbs

The current expedition list issued by Nepal’s Department of Tourism shows that one team is bound for Jannu, another for Nuptse. We’ll know more details soon. An American group led by Alan Rousseau attempted Jannu last fall.

Meanwhile, the climbers attempting Nuptse could benefit from Andrzej Bargiel’s presence on Everest. Bargiel’s crew will fix the Khumbu Icefall and Camp 2, which shares Nuptse’s normal route. Everest guides Tim Mosedale and Garrett Madison, together with some clients and Sherpas, tried Nuptse last spring.

Finally, several outfitters are offering Dhaulagiri this fall. Apart from commercial groups, Vadim Druelle, who attempted the South Face of Lhotse with Hong Sung-Taek last spring, will lead a small, independent team.

Meanwhile in Pakistan…

The Japanese climber smile with thumbs up on a rocky base camp, with impresive, snowy peaks rising in background.

Kenro Nakajima (left) and Kayuza Hiraide at their base Camp, with Karun Koh in the background. Photo: Kenro Nakajima

 

Kazuya Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima have reached Base Camp at the foot of Karun Koh. Nakajima reports that they have reached 5,600m on their acclimatization rounds. So far, they’re feeling well. Nakajima’s eye is doing better: It remained badly swollen for a week, after a mosquito bite on the eyelid.

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.