Brief Description of Manaslu
Towering above the rest of the Gurkha massif in west-central Nepal, Manaslu is the eighth tallest mountain in the world and a popular destination for experienced mountaineers.
With long ridgelines that extend well into the surrounding highlands and broad glacial valleys, Manaslu is a challenging but accessible summit from many different sides.
Situated just 64 kilometres (40 miles) east of Annapurna, the mountain’s distinctive shape, with a cleft summit, makes it stand out on the horizon.
This distinctive figure, combined with the lush scenery in the surrounding valleys, makes the peak a popular destination for trekkers, many of whom hike to base camp or circumnavigate the massive massif.
Quick Facts about Manaslu
- The mountain sits within Manaslu Conservation Area and is home to more than 140 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies. As a result, permits to climb are required from the Ministry of Tourism.
- In Sanskrit, Manaslu means “mountain of the spirit” and continues to hold spiritual importance for the local population. This has occasionally led to tensions with climbers, most notably in 1954.
- In spite of its reputation as one of the easiest 8,000 metre peaks to climb, fewer than 1,000 climbers have made it to the summit of the mountain, mostly due to issues related with altitude.
History of Manaslu
The first sighting of Manaslu by Europeans came in 1950, when an English soldier led an expedition to the Annapurna massif from Kathmandu and spotted the peak’s distinctive summit en route. The expedition approached the peak, but did not try to climb it.
Following this first sighting, four Japanese expeditions visited the slopes of Manaslu between 1950 and 1954, looking for the best way to climb the peak.
Two separate expeditions tried to climb the peak in 1952 and 1954. The first of these expeditions turned back at 7,750 metres (25,430 feet) and the second one did not even make it this far.
In 1956, a Japanese expedition led by Toshio Imanishi and his Sherpa guide, Gyaltsen Norbu, became the first people to make it to the summit Manaslu, arriving on May 9.
Experience Required for Climbing Manaslu
Manaslu is generally considered to be one of the easiest 8,000-metre (2,6200-foot) high mountains to climb, with only some moderate snow and ice climbing required on the easiest route.
The peak has a long and gradual approach up terraced ridge lines, so the vast majority of the ascent can be made by simply hiking. The south face of the mountain is the only side where long periods of sustained and technical climbing are required.
In spite of the lack of technical difficulty, climbing Manaslu comes with plenty of other challenges. Much of the ascent is done at high altitude, so participants will need previous experience at 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) prior to climbing and dedicate plenty of time to acclimatisation.
The climb also requires a very high level of physical fitness as acclimatisation requires several hikes up and down the terraced slopes before making a long and steep summit push at the climax of the trip.
Main Routes up Manaslu
Overall, there are about six well-established routes up to the summit of Manaslu and another handful that are almost exclusively used by professional mountaineers.
The easiest and, as a result, most frequently climbed route traverses the northeast face, which requires a long hiking approach to the high camp, before climbers must make a fairly short ascent of mixed snow and ice climbing to reach the summit.
The majority of the other routes are quite similar. The one exception is the south face route, which requires a sustained and highly technical ascent over rock, snow and ice.