Why are Those Who Reached The True Summit of Manaslu Not Admitting It?

“Only Nims Dai’s (Elite Exped) team wanted to go there,” Mingma G said during yesterday’s interview with ExplorersWeb. “Some of his team members didn’t have enough rest after the acclimatization but they joined us on September 27 on the summit push.”

This statement was surprising, to say the least. At the moment of writing, neither Nirmal Purja nor any of his team members has said a word about it. Most of Elite Exped members used shared summit pictures, with no identifying references. Some mentioned that they had used no supplementary O2, but no one has uttered a peep about reaching the actual summit.

With the sharp end of the Manaslu summit debate focused on those climbers holding records — including Purja himself and Mingma David Sherpa — it would seem that reaching the highest point would be worth mentioning, celebrating, and (why not?) boasting about.

ExplorersWeb asked Mingma G for more information about how far the Elite Exped team reached, considering that Jackson Groves admitted that he never went further than the foresummit.

Names of other summiters

“Nims [Nirmal Purja], Mingma Tenzi, Mingma David, Asma Althani [a client from Qatar], Pemba from Phortse, and one more Sherpa from Nims’ team went on to the main [true] summit,” Mingma G told us. “Jackson Groves didn’t go.”

Interestingly, Mingma G says that Gelje Sherpa had the chance to go with them but declined. Gelje is trying to overtake Mingma David Sherpa to become the youngest 14×8,000m summiter.

“As we were on our way up toward the summit ridge, I met Gelje and Adrianna Brownlee returning from the summit,” Mingma G stated. “I told Gelje to go back with us but he didn’t believe we would get to the true summit. He can easily return to Manaslu next year, though,” Mingma added.

Manaslu’s summit ridge. Drone pilot Jackson Groves is one of those at the foresummit. Photo: Jackson Groves

 

Mingma G also pointed out that Purja’s business partner at Elite Exped, Mingma “David” Sherpa, had posted a summit image at Manaslu’s highest point, below.

Mingma “David” Gyabu Sherpa’s summit picture, top, and his Instagram photo today showing the traverse back from the true summit, bottom.

 

 

On Instagram, Mingma “David” Gyabu Sherpa wrote that he and his Russian client reached “the summit” without supplementary O2. There is no summit pic on the client’s black-and-white photos, but Mingma David posted a photo today that showed his traverse back from summit to foresummit.

Mingma Tenzi has published summit pictures of Dhaulagiri, but virtually nothing from Manaslu. Gelje Sherpa is currently on Kangchenjunga. Asma Al Thani posted two summit pictures, but their location is unclear.

Nirmal Purja has said nothing about Manaslu’s true summit and claims his previous ascents are a valid part of his 14×8,000m speed record.

ExplorersWeb has asked Al Thani, Mingma David Sherpa, and Nirmal Purja through their social media for confirmation about summits. Other Manaslu climbers questioned were unaware/could not confirm/preferred not to be quoted.

The last part of the climb

Mingma G explained that they fixed a single rope on the final section. It involved a 10m rappel, a traverse, and then a final snow climb to the highest point. Clients had to do that last bit to the summit one by one since the freshly-placed snow anchors were delicate.

At a later summit push on October 1, Lukas Furtenbach’s guide Rupert Hauer climbed some metres beyond the end of the ropes and mistakenly thought he had reached the highest point. He learned of his error back in BC. Hauer also reported that it had snowed the day after Mingma G’s summit, and the fresh snow had completely covered both the tracks and the fixed ropes.

Jackson Groves’ summit memories

On the September 27 summit day, Camp 4, the Elite Exped team split into two groups at Camp 4. One group would use O2, the other would not. Jackson Groves reports about that day on his website, Journeyera.com. Groves and his girlfriend Pema Chinyam used oxygen, but they didn’t join the fastest group.

“Unfortunately, part of our job was to document those who weren’t on oxygen,” he wrote. “This means we were at a dramatically slower pace than felt possible for us while we were breathing freely from our tanks, as our compatriots suffered heavily. We ended up being the last group to summit that day.”

Both: Jackson Groves near the end of the ropes on Manaslu. Photos: Jackson Groves/Journey Era

 

While on the summit ridge, waiting for the no-O2 climbers, that Groves managed to fly his drone and took those images of Manaslu’s summit. About the debate that his footage caused, Groves wrote: “It was just a great drone flight and journey to the summit, whether it is true or false, higher or lower. It felt pretty damn high to me.”

Eventually, the team reunited and headed up the ridge to the end of the ropes.

“We weren’t permitted by our team to head down the new line to the ‘true’ summit but many of our team did,” Groves noted. “We enjoyed the views at the regular summit.”

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.