Manaslu Rope Fixers Reach Summit!

Late in the day, despite tough conditions, Elite Exped’s rope-fixing team has reached the true summit of Manaslu. The way to the top is now open for hundreds of climbers to follow.

Nirmal Purja shared the news, mentioning that the seven-member team battled “terrible weather and waist-deep snow” until they summited at 8:28 pm.

RELATED: Crowds flock to Manaslu for a true summit but how many will get there?

Phur Bahadur Gurung led rope fixers Dawa Chettar Sherpa, Mingmar Sherpa, Sandeep Gurung, Pam Dorjee Sherpa, Pasang Ngima Sherpa, and Karma Geljen Sherpa. Elite Exped founder Mingma David Sherpa coordinated from Base Camp.

Fixing a ladder on Manaslu some days ago. Photo: Phur Bahadur Gurung

 

The team reached Camp 3 earlier this week. Despite bad weather, they stayed in place rather than retreat to Base Camp. Yesterday, they set up Camp 4. Meanwhile, most clients are rotating between Camp 1, Camp 2, and Base Camp. Others are still on their way to Manaslu from the village of Samagaon.

The route and the state of the ropes

Details are still expected on the conditions of the final section. The true summit lies at the end of a sharp snow ridge. To reach it, the Nepalis likely followed the Rolwaling variation, opened last year by Mingma G.

Last month, Mingma G himself suggested that clients could follow the arete itself, then return via the lower, Rolwaling route to avoid crowding. Yet the Rolwaling line involves a near-vertical bit right below the summit, then a traverse on nearly 70ยบ snow.

That section could be unstable in the deep, fresh snow that Purja has reported. And anchors buried in such snow might work loose eventually with hundreds of climbers relying on them. At the very least, they’d need frequent checking.

A line shows the way climbers on the ridge should go: up the edge of the ridge to the summit, then down and traverse through te side of the summit area.

Mingma G’s proposed route suggests that climbers reach the summit along the arete, then take the Rolwaling Diversion on the way down, to minimize traffic jams. Topo courtesy of Mingma G

 

Meanwhile, weather forecasts show more days of heavy snowfall around the summit, and strong winds until Sunday.

Short-term Manaslu forecasts show poor weather until at least Sunday. Multimodel forecast by meteoexploration.com

 

While most climbers are not acclimatized enough to take immediate advantage of the fixed ropes, using supplementary O2 from relatively low altitudes could facilitate early pushes.

Manaslu re-dos

In addition to newcomers looking for their first 8,000m peak, others have come to make sure that they finally set foot on the true summit. Among them, Flor Cuenca — who recently summited K2 without oxygen — and Ralf Dujmovits. The highly experienced Dujmovits has every other 8,000’er without O2 (except for Everest which he climbed with O2) and in good style. He is back to re-do his 2007 attempt when he stopped at a point on the ridge that he mistakenly believed was the summit.

Dujmovits now intends to repeat the climb successfully, but “just for himself, not for a list,” he told Stefan Nestler.

It will be interesting to see how Dujmovits deals with the crowds. In 2018, he made headlines with early photos of the endless Conga lines up Everest. The slow pace and delays caused by those crowds forced Dujmovits to abort his own summit attempt. Climbing without O2, he decided that the risk of frostbite and AMS was too high in the heavy traffic.

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.