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