DAY 1 : Depart home country
One of the most memorable adventures you will ever have starts today. We will fly out to Kathmandu.
DAY 2 : Arrive Kathmandu
Arrive Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu, where you’ll be (if he hasn’t flown out with you) met at the airport by your Expedition Leader and taken to your hotel in the heart of Kathmandu. If arriving on an early flight you will have ample time to settle in your room and refresh yourself before meeting the team and getting to know Kathmandu. Our preferred hotel is the Kathmandu Guest House which is located in the heart of the bustling Thamel district and offers, quiet tropical gardens, onsite bars and restaurants which serve a fine selection of food and drink. Great souvenir shopping in Thamel and Durbar square with its numerous temples. That evening we meet for a delicious welcome meal and a comprehensive brief by our 360 Leader on the expedition itself and the logistics for the next few days.
DAY 3 : Preparation in Kathmandu
Today is all about final preparations for the expedition ahead. We meet up for breakfast and plan regarding what to pack for which phase of the expedition and meet our expedition chef to discuss food preferences and requirements. We have an opportunity to shop for final expedition items or can just relax in the hotel’s beautiful surroundings or jump into the hustle and bustle of Thamel. Team dinner.
DAY 4 : Drive from Kathmandu to Arughat (710m)
We set off early today for Soti Khola. It’s a long drive of about eight hours on paved road from Kathmandu to Dhading Bensi, district headquarters of Dhading then on rough road to Arughat, a reasonably large and prosperous bazaar.
DAY 5 : Arughat - Maccha Khola (900m)
First day of walking today, we trek through the beautiful Sal forests, then climb onto a ridge above huge rapids on the Budhi Gandaki. Continuing past two tropical waterfalls on a steep, rocky trail clinging to the side of a cliff, it eventually makes its way down and past a few rice terraces, then up and around to the Gurung village of Labubesi. We climb further behind a rocky outcrop, where the valley opens up and the Budhi Gandaki meanders among wide gravel bars. We follow the river and cross another suspension bridge to reach Maccha Khola village. Overnight in Maccha Khola.
DAY 6 : Maccha Khola - Jagat (1,410m)
Beneath us the river flows fast and furious and we continue through the gorges, climbing in and out to follow the trail before we reach the confluence of the Buri Gandaki and Yara Khola and a fine view up the valley. We continue to climb to ridges and descend all the way to river level within the gorge, crossing the Yara Khola in order to regain the Buri Gandaki, crossing over another suspension bridge. We finally reach Jagat, a neat village with strong Buddhist influences (although still Gurung people).
DAY 7 : Jagat - Deng (1,804m)
We continue to track the river, crossing several of its tributaries, passing occasionally through millet fields as the valley opens up temporarily before we cross a long suspension bridge to the opposite bank and meander up a steep path to reach Philim, a relatively large Gurung village amidst fields of corn and millet. The trail involves a lot of climbing to ridges and descending back down to contour the river, interspersed with a number of Mani walls of carved prayer stones that indicate the increasing Tibetan influence and our proximity to the border.
From Philim we stay high above the river to Ekle Bhatti before heading into a steep and uninhabited gorge lined with pine trees and narrow waterfalls. At the end of a steep stepped climb, we enjoy views of the Shar Khola and Tsum Valley before it eventually opens out and we enter bamboo forest for a more gentle pace albeit still high above the river to reach Deng hanging on the steep side of the valley.
DAY 8 : Deng - Namrung (2,630m)
From Deng we cross the Budhi Gandaki and climb to Rana at 1,910m, cross the bridge to join the trail from Bhi heading west up the Budhi Gandaki valley. The trail also passes through forests and mani stones as it contours to Ghap and Prok village with its panoramic view of Siringi Himal. The trail criss-crosses Budi Gandaki and passes gompas en route following the river upstream through dense forest. After our final crossing the river over a thunderous waterfall down a narrow gorge, the forest becomes less dense and the trail opens out into a pleasant walk – with one final steep climb – to reach Namrung. Overnight in Namrung.
DAY 9 : Namrung – Samagaon (3,530m)
Namrung village is a good viewpoint for Siring, Ganesh Himal and also Himal Chuli to the south. We climb steadily passing through forests to reach Lihi, a fine village with many chortens and terraces of barley. The trail drops and crosses the valley of Simnang Himal, through Sho, Lho and Shyala villages before reaching Sama Village. We enjoy extraordinary views of Manaslu from Lho village and also explore the famous Ribung Gompa. Today’s journey ends in Samagaon where we spend the night.
DAY 10-11 : Rest days in Samagoan (3,530m)
We have two full day’s rest at Samagoan. It is important to fully acclimatise to this altitude before heading to Basecamp at 4,800 meters. We will be staying in a comfortable lodge with all modern facilities available and can update our progress thus far to family and friends. The town itself is fascinating to explore as are its incredible surroundings. The focus however is to rest, eat and rehydrate as much as we possibly can before we ascend to base camp and the ascent phase of this expedition.
DAY 12-41 : Ascent profile
Note: in the past we have managed to conclude (successfully) both our Manaslu and Cho Oyu expeditions well within the time-frame described in this itinerary. (Sometimes by as much as 10 days) If this is the case in 2019 then the 360 office is on standby to re-arrange all necessary travel arrangements.
We work closely with each individual team member to determine their own unique ascent profile. Generally speaking though a typical ascent profile is as follows:
- Arrive at base camp, rest for a few days, followed by days of short acclimatisation walks and skills training
- Climb to C1 and descend to base camp
- Climb to C1 and remain for 2 nights
- Climb through the icefall and touch C2
- Return to BC
- Climb to C1 one night then C2 and stay for 2 nights
- Climb to C3 and return to C2
Several rest days at BC
- Summit bid. Climb to C1 and sleep here, continue to C2 next day and spend a night there, climb to C3 and spend night there, climb to C4 and spend a few hours there, switch to oxygen and depart for summit
- By this stage you will be fit, well rested, fully nourished, fully hydrated, properly acclimatised and have developed a good mountain sense. You are ready for the climb of your life!
- Descend to BC
DAY 12 to 41 : Ascent details, Base camp to camp one (C1)
After a couple of days rest in Samagon we climb through the forest to BC. In comparison to other 8,000-meter peaks this camp is relatively low at 4,800 meters but it’s location nevertheless serves well for a camp from which to tackle the peak. We spend several days adjusting to this new altitude and familiarise ourselves with our surroundings and say hello to other teams on the mountain. Your expedition leader will run several retraining courses for those not familiar with glacier travel, oxygen apparatus, fixed line and avalanche transceivers. During this time the climbing Sherpas start the process of fixing line to the camp one (C1) and above.
Once C1, 5,700 meters, has been established we climb up the Manaslu glacier for our first acclimatisation sortie. Directly above BC there are several rock steps which are fixed with safety line and we stay well above the glacier until we reach crampon point (5,100 meters) where we don our ice-tools and begin to climb up the broad icy surface. The entire route from crampon point to C1 is fixed with safety rope. Several crevasses have to be jumped or skirted and a few short icy steps climbed before this camp is reached. The total walking time to reach this camp is between 5 to 7 hours. This time will be reduced on subsequent climbs to C1 as we get fitter and used to the terrain.
The crux of the climb is the short ice-fall above C1. Here the terrain becomes complex as the route weaves its way around ice-blocks, over narrow crevasses and up 50- degree snow slopes and gullies. The entire route is fixed and the time taken to reach C2, at 6,400 meters is between 4 and 6 hours. We ascend this route before the sun rises when conditions are most stable.
DAY 12 to 41 : Ascent details, camp one (C1) to camp four (C4)
The incline of the terrain eases for the climb from C2 to C3 at 6,800 meters. Heading for a broad col we climb several 30-degree snow-slopes and skirt several wide crevasses to reach the edge of the broad Manaslu plateau. This stage is relatively short and takes between 2 and 4 hours but can be exposed to high winds or be extremely hot when climbed during the daytime. The views expand around us to include incredible lesser known summits of this rarely visited part of the Himalaya.
The climb to C4 at 7,450 meters is a tough one. Initially we cross the plateau to reach sustained steep snow slopes and skirt around a massive hanging serac. This section is followed by a long traverse to C4. The total time taken to reach C4 is between 5 and 7 hours. C4 is situated in a small col behind a prominent rock pinnacle and offers mind-blowing views. Our stay here is brief as we melt liquids, have some food and grab a quick nap before the summit bid.
DAY 12 to 41 : Ascent details, camp four (4) to summit and return to C1
It usually takes between 4 to 6 hours to reach the true summit of this incredible mountain. This is a relatively short ascent for an 8,000-meter peak but we use all available daytime hours to descend as low as we can once the summit has been reached.
The Expedition leader and Climbing Sherpa will determine a time of departure based on the amount of rest you have had and how long the previous day has taken you. Despite the high altitude of C4 some climbers manage to rest quite well before the summit attempt. The day begins with brewing up sufficient liquid to last us for the day and to have breakfast. We adjust our O2 systems and set up the fixed lines leading to the north-east ridge. We follow this ridge to the initial false summit where we switch O2 cylinders before climbing the spectacular pinnacle which defines the true summit of the mountain. The summit itself is one lifted from the pages of a fairy tale and is just big enough to accommodate one climber at the time. Safely secured by fixed line we stand on the world’s eighth highest summit as our entire ascent route falls below us and we enjoy one of the most stunning vistas found in the Himalaya. Surrounding us is thick tropical rainforest from which several 6,000-meter peaks abruptly rise and steep glaciers tumble. Looking across to the west the incredible summits of the Annapurna region and Dhaulagri are clearly visible and to the east the familiar peaks of the Everest region become obvious. To be rewarded for all our efforts by such a thrilling summit climb is simply what high altitude mountaineering is all about.
The descend back to C4 is typically 3 -4 hours and further C1 can be reached by descending another 5 -7 hours.
DAY 42 : Samaguan
Today we leave basecamp and return to Samaguan.
Helicopter transfers exist for those not wanting to trek back to Arughat. This journey takes around 1 ½ hours. Please contact the 360 Expeditions office for details about this flight and costs.
DAY 43-45 : Samaguan to Arughat
Return trek to Arughat.
This trek will take a maximum of 3 days. If time permits we will take organised transport back to Kathmandu on the evening of day 45.
DAY 46 : Kathmandu
A much needed day to unwind in the tropical hotel gardens of the Kathmandu Guest House or to experience the bustle of the Nepali capital. And of course a great final night to celebrate our team and expedition success. Night spent in hotel.
DAY 47 : Return UK
Today we fly back home.
These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the expedition and what you will experience.