|Our treks||Expeditions||Contact us||About us||Old photos & Diaries|
Manaslu Expedition 8163m
**This page is a historic page frozen in time - see Our treks for the current website**
September-October -- Nepal -- standard (Japanese) route
This is a full service expedition with a western guide-manager offering the best balance of quality and value. We run safe expeditions with a two members to one sherpa ratio, have the best gear (tents, radios, power systems), so everything you would expect and more.
Our 2008 Manaslu Expedition was successful, and Valerie Parkinson was the first British woman to summit the mountain.
Comparing the climb
If snow conditions are good then the difficulties are only a notch above Cho Oyu or Shishapangma. There is slightly more climbing around seracs, so perhaps a bit ice climbing on fixed ropes. Similar to Shishapangma, there are some wide open gentle slopes but it tends to be cloudier there and so we need to wand them carefully and put ropes over the crevasses. You want a GPS for navigation, and practice using it before arrival. If there is heavy snow, and the risk is higher being on the wetter side of the Himalaya, then there is avalanche danger in a few spots and also the trail-breaking could be arduous.
In reasonable conditions Manaslu is a mountain suitable for commercial teams, but the there is a greater risk of less than good conditions compared to Cho Oyu or Shishapangma. I think that Manaslu is preferable to Gasherbrum II or Broad Peak, both of which have extremely variable conditions, depending on the monsoon.
We trek to base camp during the monsoon but we can arrange a helicopter instead, please ask for a quote.
Manaslu showing the climbing route from a little above C2 to the summit, taken from the north, Nov 2007 - Copyright Jamie McGuinness
Experience and fitness
Despite the relatively non-technical nature you MUST have some mountaineering experience and MUST have been to 6000m+ before (Denali/Aconcagua/Island Peak etc). You will need to climb on steep, near vertical ice for short sections and abseil down these sections several times. Don't underestimate the difficulty and strength of will required to climb at over 7000m.
Do search the internet carefully. The book "On top of the World, conquering the world's 14 highest mountains" may also be useful.
Andrew Lock says "Watch for serac issues between camp 1 and camp 2 and some avo potential between camp 2 and the plateau. Also, be aware that the plateau gets covered in cloud most days, making it difficult to find your high camp after the summit. Read Messner’s account and take a GPS."
Bonus, the Manaslu trek is one of Nepal's best. You start in the steamy low country and soon move through tight gorges to higher alpine country and to base camp. Bring a good umbrella! The trekking schedule is partially determined by the porters, who are carrying a bit more than you...
4 - drive then trek Arughat 570m
We leave early by private bus packed with us and our crew. Leaving on the main road to Pokhara we turn off for Dhading and take a rough road to the end, where we have lunch. The afternoon is thru beautiful (and hot) low country, endless fields. Once upon a time in Nepal very trek started like this. Flat land, wandering through lush green paddies, caked in sweat, resting under pipal and banyan trees, with those white giants on the horizon; so count your blessings as we wade a side river and stumble deliriously into the tropical shade of the bazaar of Arughat. This can be a longer day, or as in 2007 the road was so bad that we took one extra day to get to Arughat.
5 - Soti Khola 730m / Korsani Khola
Today will be hot, but classic lower middle hills trekking as we meander along the river.
6 - Machha Khola 930m
The country changes, the broad valley narrows and at times the trail is cut into the steep valley side, which is densely forested. We pass a number of small villages, tucked into the hillside, until we reach a widening of the valley, opposite the point where a large tributary stream enters the Buri Gandaki. The terraced farmland here belongs to the village of Lapuabesi. We descend once again to the wide, sandy riverbed and follow a path which runs below the steep, craggy valley side. At length, we have to climb up once again on a trail to Machha Khola. We camp outside the village, which has a number of teashops.
Camping en route - Jamie
7 - Jagat 1370m
A few hours of walking by tobacco and buckwheat fields, past rocks washed smooth by the river, we reach the hot springs in the centre of the small, terraced village of Tatopani, where we have plenty of time to soak our grungy bodies in the gushing hot water, and then perhaps go for a swim in the icy river below, drying off on the wonderful river-side beach. A gentle climb through the woods past some spectacular waterfalls, across another suspension bridge and through a short section of forest path and we reach Doban, where we stop for lunch. Above Doban, the Buri Gandaki descends in an impressive series of steep rapids. Here, our trail climbs high above the river to descend through what appears to be a huge gateway into some secret place; in front the valley widens, the river calms, and we splash through streams before coming into our camp below Jagat, the entrance to the Manaslu park. It is worth wandering around this beautiful, paved village, where proud villagers have recorded how much they contributed to these paving schemes; Jagat people love their village! Our campsite is impressively clean and grassy, with cold beers available at the shop next door.
8 - Philim 1570m
After descending a long series of stone steps to the river, we climb a terraced hill to Saguleri, from where we can see the impressive Sringi Himal, 7187m. We pass through the charming, paved village of Sirdibas, where the local children might be selling oranges. Crossing the river again via a long suspension bridge at Gata Khola, the path splits, with the right-hand branch heading off towards the Ganesh Himal. Our route continues upstream, and again we have a steep climb to reach Philim and its Japanese sponsored school. We will either camp here or at a campsite an hour further, Eklai Bhatti.
9 - Deng 1540m
We pass through Eklai Bhatti, and then on through a narrow, dramatic gorge section with towering walls, and past a thundering waterfall just above us on the right of the trail. We cross the river three more times in the next two hours (on even more sketchy bridges, Nepali style) to avoid the difficult valley sides, and then leave the gorge, climbing at one point on steps cut into tree trunks, to the small village of Deng. This is the start of the lower Nubri region called Kutang, where the people are ethnically Tibetan but speak a different dialect than the people of upper Nubri. We camp just below the village, and get fresh greens from the family that owns the land. It's worth a visit to the upper floor of their house above us, perhaps for a glass of local 'chang', or Tibetan beer, and for a chat around the hearth. It starts to feel like a piece of old Tibet at last.
10 - Ghap 2165m
The valley is still steep-sided and impressive; we cross to the village of Lana, and start to see mani stones (prayers etched onto wayside rocks), a sure sign that we are entering another of the tiny Tibetan footholds that mark the high Himalayan places. After about three hours, we reach Ghap, where we set up camp for the night at the house of some wonderful villagers. The egg-shells strung above their 'tea-house' door prevent the evil spirits from entering the house. The sun goes down early here, so we will cross the small bridge spanning the Buri Gandaki and trek steeply up for 45 minutes to the village of Chaak, where the son of the tea-house owner lives with his family. There is a small, deserted gompa, carved mani stones (the style here is distinctly different that most other Tibetan Buddhist regions), and some Tibetans from Samdo who graze their yaks here. In the village, they will be drying their maize to grind into flour, and then trade with the people of upper Nubri, and we might be invited into the son's house for some Tibetan salt-butter tea and roasted maize on the cob. Look out across the river for views of the village of Prok perched on the plateau jutting over the river below us. From Chaak, you can trek further to Kwak, and there is a trail up to Shringi Himal base camp.
11 - Lho 3180m
Today is a wonderful trekking day; after passing through the seemingly deserted village of Nambachhe, planted with fields of barley and lined with mani walls, we ascend through a dense, cool forest for an half an hour to Namrung, at 2540 meters, where we will stop for a cup of chai. A few hours later, we reach the village of Lihi at 2840 meters, a substantial altitude gain. The air is pleasantly cool, and we stop for a breather before heading on the Sho, which we can see on the ridge ahead, for lunch on the deck of a local house. Look for the bear claw on the upper deck of the house. From Sho, the views of Ngadi Chuli are spectacular, and further on, towards Lho, we are finally treated to views of Manaslu itself; quite an impressive afternoon!
12 - Sama Goan (Ro) 3525m
We gain altitude to take us into alpine territory and increasing mountain views. There are more mani walls and three more crossings of the Buri Gandaki on our route to Namrung, a great place for morning chai in the Manaslu lodge, run by friendly Tibetan family; check out their prayer area and masks! Above this village the valley opens out and there are extensive pastures. We are climbing climb gently now, cross a large stream flowing down from the Lidanda Glaciers, and reach the picturesque Tibetan village of Sho at 3000m. We may camp at Shyala, or push on to Sama Gaon; from either there are incredible views of Manaslu.
Sama Gaon, or Ro, as the locals call it, sits in a bowl at the foot of the pastures leading to the high peaks. The people settled here from Tibet over 500 years ago, and there are two gompas dating from this time with unique architecture, built of wood. The Tibetan villages here have entrance gates which are very distinctive from Ladakh and Tibet, and they maintain an active trade with their coreligionists in Tibet (notice the Chinese brandy and beer on sale). If the weather is good, you will see the village women weaving wool (baal) from Tibet into gowns - which are then traded back to Tibet
Days 12-14 - Sama Gaon
We plan two days here, to explore and acclimatize.
Day 15 - trek BC
We follow the main trail for a couple of hours then branch off up to the base camp.
Manaslu's East Pinnacle from Sama, the rock peak is not the true summit - Jamie