The Route and Climbing Program
Our expedition commences in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Here you will meet your guide and the other team members for an expedition briefing where you will be informed of all the expedition plans from this point. Your guide will conduct a gear check and you can finalize the packing of your climbing duffel that will go ahead for transport direct to Base Camp.
We take a van from Kathmandu to begin our gentle acclimatization hike up to Samagaon, a small village below Manaslu, which is at an altitude of 3500m/11483ft. Samagaon is inhabited by people of Tibetan origin who live much as they did in centuries gone by; subsisting on Yak farming and agriculture. A large monastery (or Gompa) is situated overlooking the village. It is an active monastery whose Lamas are ordained through succession meaning that when a Lama dies, the oldest son becomes the next Lama in the chain. We base ourselves at a lodge in the village utilising the trails on the hillsides and trekking routes around the mountain to develop our acclimatization for a further two nights. Having taken the time to adjust to the new elevation we then move up to Base Camp at 4800m/15,748ft.
Over the following three weeks we will establish four camps on the mountain:
The route up to Camp 1 involves climbing over grassy slopes, rock slabs and moraine, followed by a crevassed glacier with occasional small ice steps to Camp 1 at 5700m/18,700ft. During seasons with more snowfall there may be snow around Base Camp and below. Views of the surrounding peaks will add reference to the uphill climb and the team will enjoy seeing more of the upper part of the mountain, as high as Camp 4, from the trail to Camp 1.
The route to Camp 2, at 6,200m/20,341ft, is considered the technical crux of the climb with fixed ropes for security on the steeper parts. The terrain features long 40 degree snow slopes with a few vertical ice steps where brief sections of front-point cramponing is required with the aid of fixed ropes.
Above Camp 2 the slopes ease off with fixed ropes on intermittent steep sections but in general the route to Camp 3 (6,900m/22,637ft) is relatively straightforward. Acclimatised climbers can complete this leg in approximately 3-4 hours.
From Camp 3 there is 550m/1800ft of strenuous climbing to Camp 4 at 7,450m/26,781ft. A well- deserved rest and rehydration will greatly increase your enthusiasm for a summit bid early the following morning when you set out for the climb.
Summit day will start well before dawn and the climb should take about 6-7 hrs. The guides will nominate a ‘turn-around’ time and this will be strictly enforced. The climbing is not technical in the early part as we ascend through several basins with short headwalls connecting them. The climb passes the false summit and finishes on an exposed ridge through to the true summit for an unforgettable vista. Our strong guide and Sherpa team will fix ropes, break trail and make every effort to assist the group on what will be a memorable day with the objective to reach the summit of the eighth highest mountain in the world!
We descend to Base Camp the day after summiting for a well-earned celebration. A day is spent packing up Base Camp then we drop down to Samagaon to begin the trek out over the next four days. Helicopter flights to Kathmandu are available at a reasonable cost (from US$900 each) for those who would prefer. Members should ensure they have a flexible return airfare in case we finish early or need to extend the trip a few days to allow for weather.
There is no definitive measure for assessing the required skill-level to climb Manaslu so we prefer to discuss this on an individual basis. However, there are some broad guidelines that can be applied from the outset. A successful team member will have been visiting the mountains for at least three seasons and made ascents of peaks up to 18-20,000 feet (5,500 – 6,000 metres). It is quite common for members to have previously climbed Mt McKinley in Alaska, Aconcagua in South America, or various Mexican volcanoes as training for Manaslu. He/she will be familiar with fixed rope and crevasse travel techniques and have a good overall standard of fitness. Age itself is no barrier. To date we have succeeded on Himalayan trips with members aged from 22 to 65 years of age.
A fierce determination and a burning desire to climb the mountain are essential prerequisites for this expedition. The guides and other expedition staff will provide the leadership, tactics and overall decision making required during the climb, but members will contribute to the day to day expedition requirements such as melting snow, cooking in your tents on the mountain, helping with pitching tents etc.