Record Seekers Arrive at Manaslu

A variety of characters have come to Manaslu in the hope of setting some record. Depending on your perspective, this can be impressive or another sign of the commercialization of 8,000m mountaineering.

First North American woman?

From the summit of Gasherbrum I on July 31, Viridiana Alvarez of Mexico claimed that she was the “first woman on the American Continent (the Americas) to summit the 14 8,000’ers.” However, on her previous Manaslu climb, like the rest of the commercial climbers, Alvarez had stopped quite far from the true summit.

Now she has changed her mind and announced, “I’ll close my 14-peak project with this special mountain (Manaslu).”

To mark the achievement, she will be filming a documentary. Alvarez has also changed outfitters from her usual Seven Summit Treks to Nirmal Purja’s Elite Exped. Purja himself will likely join her. Suman Gurung will serve as cameraman.

Sophie Lavaud could dispute Alvarez’s potential record as the first North American woman to summit all 14, since Lavaud has Canadian citizenship (as well as French and Swiss). According to, the closest U.S. woman to completing the circuit is Gina Marie Rzucidlo. She summited Gasherbrum I, her 12th, this past summer.

Alvarez and Purja flew to Samagaon earlier this week. According to fellow Elite Exped client Rajan Dwiwedi, they “refreshed their skills” on the glacier yesterday (video here).

Trail runners

Also on Manaslu are Kenyans James Muhia and Cheruiyot AK. Both are trail runners with speed ascents of African peaks. They now want to try Manaslu without supplementary oxygen, South African climber Jeanette McGill reported. She believes that this could be the first no-O2 ascent of an 8,000er for an African.

Tyler Andrews of the U.S. is also aiming to set a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) on Manaslu, targeting the current record set by Francois Cazanelli. Andrews has previously set FKTs on Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua. He climbed Aconcagua earlier this year in 7 hours and 21 minutes). Check a video here:

So far, Andrews is feeling well. “He went from Samagaon to Manaslu Base Camp and back in 4 hours the other day, as a fun run,” expedition leader Dawa Steven Sherpa told ExplorersWeb.

Andrews’ main question is exactly where should he begin. “Base camp is so big [and includes] 15 vertical meters,” Dawa Steven explained. ExplorersWeb has reached out to current Manaslu record holder Francois Cazzanelli for comment.

Andrews has an interesting story that he shares on his Instagram. Already a devoted trail racer, he made a decision in 2013 to focus on altitude running and coaching.

I took a gamble. I gave myself a year, tucked my engineering degree in my back pocket, and moved to Quito, Ecuador, where I found a job cleaning toilets and making beds at a hostel. I had everything I needed at the time: a bed in a tiny cave of a room and my mornings and late-afternoons free to train in the thin Andean air.

the runner in light monutaineering clothes runs on rocky terrain, with 2 poles, mountains behind him.

Tyler Andrews trains for the Mt. Washington Road Race earlier this year. Photo: Tyler Andrews/Instagram


Rope fixers to Camp 4 next

The rope-fixing team led by Kilu Sherpa of Imagine Nepal is back at Base Camp for a rest after laying the ropes up to Camp 3 (typically, 6,800m) two days ago. The team will fix the route to Camp 4 by next Friday, Imagine Nepal’s CEO Mingma G confirmed.

a trail on a flat section of snowy ground with the fixed rope, and a landscape of peaks and glaciers under the blue sky in background.

Blue skies and scenic views of Manaslu’s Camp 1 today. Photo: Dawa Steven Sherpa/Asian Trekking


The weather has been excellent this week, raising spirits and triggering action on the lower sections of the mountain. Groups are doing their first rotation to Camp 1 as soon as they celebrate their puja (offering) ceremony. Others are still trekking to Base Camp and will begin acclimatizing next week.

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.