Manaslu Closes Down After A Remarkable Season

Manaslu is closing for the season, but what a season: Three solid weeks of good weather have given summit chances to everyone. This led to well over 250 summits, unprecedented success ratios, and no serious accidents.

The season ended well for nearly everyone except, perhaps, Tyler Andrews. The American ultrarunner turned back during his FKT attempt on Tuesday. He told ExplorersWeb from Base Camp that he had hoped to try again, but with the mountain closing, that won’t be possible.

What happened

“I felt fantastic and made very good time to C3 in about three hours,” Andrews told ExplorersWeb. “But then I had some serious stomach issues higher up that kept me from getting/keeping calories down. I struggled mightily above about 7,000m and basically just ran out of gas. I ended up coming down at about 7,750m.”

As he descended, there were two things that Andrews didn’t know. One, that Pemba Gelje was attempting his own FKT.

“I didn’t know until I reached back Base Camp,” Andrews said. “Really excited for him and glad to see a speed record go to a Sherpa.”

Pembaon the summit, he holds a piece of cloth with the cover of the book about him printed on it.

Pemba Gelje on the summit of Manaslu yesterday, with a banner promoting a forthcoming book about his life.

Two, Andrews was unaware of the imminent closure of the mountain. “It looks like it will not be possible to allow time to recover from this summit bid and get back up and down [again],” he admitted.

How do you “close” a mountain?

Manaslu is not going anywhere, and fall climbing permits are valid until the end of November. Strictly speaking, climbers could keep trying for weeks. However, they would have to do it the old-fashioned way. No fixed ropes, camps, or support from other teams.

Commercial teams are sending their last climbers to the summit today and tomorrow, and the high-altitude working staff are packing up both higher camps and Base Camp.

“Even while coming down yesterday, I saw a lot of the camps were just about empty,” Andrews said. “Because of all the warm weather, some of the fixed-line anchors have been popping out, crevasses are getting wider, etc.”

Andrews is an athlete rather than an experienced high-altitude climber. This was his first time on an 8,000m peak.

Record numbers

Manaslu has been summited a total of 2,351 times, according to The Himalayan Database. Note, however, that this figure includes all those who, for years, stopped at the foresummit.

In 2023, the total number of summits will certainly be over 250 and may even approach 300. This is significantly higher than last fall, where the final tally was slightly below 150.

This has been also a remarkably short season. Last year, all expeditions abandoned the mountain at the same time because of dangerous conditions. The last reported summits in 2022 were on Oct. 4. That’s five days later than this year’s final summits.

A climbers walks by the edge of a sharp snow ridge, clipped to afixed rope.

Climbers on an excellent trail along Manaslu’s summit ridge. Photo: Alpine Ascents


Climbing seasons have shortened significantly since outfitters have begun offering multiple peaks to their clients. Most companies don’t have enough high-altitude guides or staff to run expeditions on several peaks at the same time.

Lakpa Sherpa of 8K confirmed that the success rate has skyrocketed this season.

“Few people turned around, thanks to the great weather and good conditions,” he told ExplorersWeb.

8K put a total of 54 climbers on the summit over these three weeks. Dawa Steven Sherpa reported that the warm, windless days allowed Tyler Andrews to climb up to Camp 3 at night wearing only running shoes.

Dawa Steven in dawn jacket, and Andrews is light clothes, vest with 2 water bladders, light harness and sneakers.

Dawa Steven Sherpa and Tyler Andrews right before Andrews departed from Base Camp. Photo: Asian Trekking


Other factors contributed to the high success. Climbers such as Chris Warner remarked that the last section to the “true” summit of Manaslu was surprisingly easy this year. Mingma G explained in a text to ExplorersWeb that the EliteExped team, the first to top out this year, fixed the ropes directly from the traverse point to the summit in a rising line. It then descended straight down from the summit, following Mingma G’s Rolwaling diversion, then traversed back in a straight line to the main route.

The result was a triangle that allowed climbers to follow one direction on the way up and another on the way down, preventing traffic jams.

Some crowding did occur elsewhere, but mainly on a vertical section between Camp 1 and Camp 2 (see the video below by Naila Kiani), and at some points between Camp 3 and Camp 4.


Records and a ski descent

The excellent conditions lasted long enough for many climbers to properly acclimatize and then launch summit pushes without oxygen. Along the way, Chris Warner and Viridiana Alvarez completed their 14×8,000m quest, and 53-year-old Kami Rita Sherpa reached his 42nd 8,000m summit, more than anyone else.

Close shot of kami Rita in a colorful dawn jacket, giving a thumbs-up.

Kami Rita Sherpa. Photo: 14 Peaks Expeditions


Yesterday, French mountain guides Jorick Vion, Xavier Troubat, Laurent Niol, and Enak Gavaggio completed a group ski descent from the summit.

the climber on skis and O2, with a neat ski trail behind him, and some climbers on the ondulating summit ridge behind.

Yorick Vion at 8,000m on skis, as background climbers descend from the summit ridge. Photo: Yorick Vion/Instagram

What’s next

Now, attention in Nepal shifts mainly to Ama Dablam. Here, Tyler Andrews will try another FKT. There are also teams on Dhaulagiri and at least one four-person expedition on Makalu.

The Tibetan 8,000’ers, Shishapangma and Cho Oyu, are also back in play. Virtually all climbers are already in Tibet. Some Pakistanis who had to deal with visa issues successfully crossed into China yesterday.

Yet the most interesting expeditions will be on lesser, more technical peaks. We will write about them tomorrow.

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.