Manaslu 2013: An 8000m Expedition

Manaslu 26, sick 781’/8163m

Well it is time to climb again! A big climb that is: Manaslu 26, 759’/8156m.

If you have been following me in 2013, I have been busy training. Back in January, I had knee surgery so was uncertain if I could get ready for Manaslu but after 25+ summits on Colorado 14,000 foot mountains, many with heavy packs, I feel ready and confident.

This will be my fifth climb on a 8000m mountain (Everest, Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma and now Manaslu). Well actually, eight if you include all my Everest attempts.

I will be climbing with Phil Crampton’s Altitude Junkies organization hoping to summit in early October 2013 after spending the previous month on the mountain establishing camps and acclimatizing.


Manaslu is the world’s 8th highest mountain at 26,759’/8156m. It is located in Nepal about 40 miles east of Annapurna, 150 miles west of Everest and 80 miles northwest of Kathmandu. The summit in the picture is far left.

It is not as well known or climbed as many other 8000 meter mountain due to the remote location but also for a history of avalanches and deaths. As of 2012, the summit has seen about 672 successful ascents and 67 deaths, ranking it in the middle of the dangerous 8000m peaks.

8000m deaths

source: Himalayan Database, research


It has become popular as a training 8000m climb for aspiring Everest climbers similar to Cho Oyu in Tibet but without the political and logistical difficulties. It is climbed in both pre and post monsoon seasons but more often in the autumn.

The Manaslu Circuit Trek has also become very popular as an alternative to the Annapurna Circuit. A unique aspect of a Manaslu climb is starting the trek very low, 1,870 feet, and walking through rain forest and dense tropical vegetation. The mountain is included in the Manaslu Conservation Area and is home to the protected snow leopard and pandas. The area has a strong cultural similarity to Tibet.


The Japanese pioneered the early climbs on Manaslu in the 1950s and some Japanese may considered it their 8000m peak today, similar to how the British view Everest. The first ascent of Manaslu was in 1956 by Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu on a Japanese expedition.  The peak was not climbed again until 1971 when another Japanese team made the second ascent.  The first American ascent was by Charlie Mace in 1997.  There are a half dozen established routes on the mountain today.

Manaslu Camp 1
Manaslu Camp 1 in 2011. Courtesy Altitude Junkies


The biggest issue facing most Manaslu expeditions, altitude notwithstanding, is the weather. It is known to snow several feet at a time at Base Camp. Also avalanches are a concern on the upper mountain. In 2012, 11 climbers were killed by an avalanche that hit directly on Camp 3 where many teams were sleeping. In 1972 15 members of a South Korean expedition were killed by an avalanche, 10 were tragically Sherpa.


The normal route is from the Northeast Ridge. Overall the climbing is not exceedingly difficult except for the extreme altitude. We will follow a direct line on snow slopes with a few steep sections that are set with fixed lines. The base camp is comfortably nestled between high ridges with a running stream nearby.

We will establish four camps:

  • Base Camp: 15,750ft/4800m: amazing views of the Himalayas
  • Camp 1: 18,700ft/5700m: mixed terrain from Base Camp including a few crevasses and short ice sections – 3 to 6 hours
  • Camp 2: 21,000ft6400m: From C1, this is considered the technical crux with 40 degree snow slopes and a brief steep ice section – 3 to 4 hours
  • Camp 3: 22.310ft/6800m: From C2 the terrain eases but is known for high, cold winds – 1 to 3 hours
  • Camp 4: 24,445ft7450m: from C3 it is a physical climb with a few steep sections at extreme altitude – 4 to 8 hours
  • Summit: 26,759ft/8156m: summit day is about 6 to 8 hours passing a false summit to the true summit via an exposed ridge. Sometimes the snow conditions prevent reaching the true summit.
Manaslu Northeast Ridge Route
Upper Manaslu Northeast Ridge Route


This is our approximate schedule:

Days 1-2: Kathmandu – 4,386’/1,3337m
Day 3: Drive to Arughat – 1,870’/570m
Days 4-9: Trek to Sama Gaon:

  • Soti Khola – 2,395ft/730m
  • Machha Khola – 3,050ft/930m
  • Jagat – 4,495ft/1370m
  • Philim – 5,150ft/1570m
  • Deng – 5,050ft/1540m
  • Ghap – 7,105ft2165m
  • Namrung – 8,730ft2660m
  • Lho – 10,435ft3180m
  • Sama Gaon – 11,565ft/3525m

Days 10-11: Sama Goan
Day 12: Trek to base camp
Days 13-37: Rotations through high camps for acclimatization
Days 38-41: Summit Bid
Day 42: Trek to Sama Goan
Day 43: Helicopter to Kathmandu
Day 44: Kathmandu
Day 45: Depart Kathmandu

Follow Along

I will post updates during the climb on my Blog. Also you can follow from the Altitude Junkies website. Also, a full trip report will be available after the climb.

As usual, my climbs are to raise awareness and research funds for Alzheimer’s Disease. Please learn more at this link.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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26 thoughts on “Manaslu 2013: An 8000m Expedition

  1. Alan, good luck on the climb. The stats on Manaslu are interesting, with a somewhat elevated deaths/summits ratio for what is commonly viewed as an easier 8000’er. I guess another way of looking at it this stat is, do more people die on this mountain, or do fewer people summit, presumably turned around by the weather and avalanche risk? Do you have any idea how the success rate (summits/attempts) compares to other 8000’ers?

    1. Thanks Fred. Manaslu has a low success rate of 24% for members. These statistics from the Himalayan Database are for members aka “members”, not including Sherpas who make multiple trips above Base Camp so are not counted in this particular stat. For Manaslu 1942 members climbed above Base Camp and 416 have summited up to 2012 or 24%. This is primarily due to the poor weather. For comparison, Cho Oyu is 37% 2327 out of 6213 and Everest is 3337 out of 10340 for 32%.

  2. Hi Alan,

    Thats great news. Really looking forward to following your expedition

    Zachary Zaitzeff

  3. Good luck with that, Alan. I have some good memories of climbing Manaslu with the Junkies in 2011. It’s a great mountain and truly fabulous trek in up the Budhi Gandaki gorge.

    Regards to Phil and his fantastic Sherpa crew!

  4. Alan, because I get the opportunity to hike & climb with you a lot, I can tell you: You are FIT right now! Best of luck with this exciting expedition.

  5. Fantastic Alan…I knew with all those Colorado 14’ers that you were getting ready for a neat climb…Phil runs a good ship and I heard that he will be on the South side of Everest this next year.
    Can’t wait to follow your reports…best of luck,

    “One day at a time!”


  6. I wondered if there was something big coming up because of all the training you appeared to be doing. I always look forward to your blogs and this will be more exciting following you ‘on the go ‘ so to everyone says please take care and go safely. Best wishes to all on the expedition and hope you have a great climb and that the weather is kind. Cheers Kate

  7. Alan, after seeing you in action on the slopes, I know you are ready. You looked good, had good form, and seemed to be very focused. We will be following you in the classroom. Keep climbing up and on.

  8. I’m so excited for you and I’ll be following closely. I love your posts, you always find a way to make us feel like we’re part of the climb (well, sort of 🙂 ) Altitude Junkies seem to know what they are doing and, of course, so do you.

    Have a great time. Be safe!

  9. Alan: awesome. envious..:) perhaps i will see you (going to trek around manaslu and annapurna in october). best wishes. stay stafe.

  10. congratulations on having a new challenge and good luck in your endeavor…Manaslu is a mountain i learned of in my teens and i have admired ever since the mountain and those who have attempted to summit her

  11. Super news Alan….can’t wait for the updates. Stay safe though…

    1. Hi, I would also like to know of a reputable company that is offering the Manaslu Circuit trek this fall. I am hoping, with your knowledge and expertise, that you could suggest such a company to me. Thanks and I wish you much enjoyment in this beautiful part of the world.

      1. I meant to say that I don’t want to climb the mountain, just trek to base camp. Enjoy!

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