At 8,163 m (26,781 ft), Manaslu is the eighth highest mountain in the world and one of Nepal’s most unique and sought-after peaks. It is located in the Mansiri Himal subrange of the Himalayas, just 64 km (40 mi) east of Annapurna.
Climbing Manaslu is by no means simple, however, many advanced mountaineers consider Manaslu to be one of the easiest 8-thousand meter peaks to climb after Cho-Oyu, which makes it a favorite to prepare for Everest.
Picture courtesy of Sonam Bhote
It is an “easy” 8000m peak because:
a) Logistics are relatively simple to organize: local transport is available and goes close to the Base Camp, which is close to Samagaun village.
b) Manaslu is not as steep as other high-altitude mountains and there are no big objective dangers.
c) It’s a great high-altitude training ground for mountaineers that aspire to climb Everest.
d) It’s a unique and remote mountain that will grant you beautiful views and the chance to deeply experience the Himalaya mountain life.
What Routes can I take to the Manaslu Summit?
Manaslu has historically been climbed via many different routes that have traced its different faces. The first successful summit was via the North Side in May of 1956, by Japanese climber Toshio Imanishi and local sherpa Gyalzen Norbu. You can read a detailed first-person account by Imanishi of this first ascent here. Since then, it has been explored by many climbers via the Northeast Face, the Northwest Spur, the Southwest Face, the West Couloir/South Ridge, and the West Wall.
The most common climbing route to the summit today is via the Northeast face, and there is also a popular 177 km (110 mi) trekking route for those that wish to explore the region without tackling a high altitude climb.
The approach trek to Manaslu is from Samagaon (3530m) and is technically straightforward and can be tackled in a single day. Plus, on the way, the route ascends through a forest surrounding a lake, and then up a steep ridge to the first Base Camp (4800m), so it is also very scenic. Often, Manaslu climbing programs include acclimatization treks from Samagaon a few days before starting on the actual Manaslu climb. There is also the option of flying to the Base Camp.
Many expeditions spend several days acclimatizing on the Base Camp, however, another alternative is climbing a nearby peak for this purpose, which makes the expedition more dynamic.
The next stretch of the ascent involves going from the Base Camp to Camp 1 (5500m), which involves trekking through a moraine, going onto a glacier, uphill trekking, and traversing a small ridge.
The section between Camp 1 to Camp 2 (6250m) is a bit more challenging because it involves tackling a feisty glacier with crevasses, seracs, and steep ice walls.
Camp 3 (7,500m)is easier to reach as long as the snow conditions and avalanche risk are moderate.
Finally, the last stretch involves a 600m climb to the summit that requires technical skills to tackle rock and/or snow, depending on the weather conditions.
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Manaslu Circuit Trek
If climbing to the Manaslu summit sounds a bit ambitious for you, keep in mind that Manaslu Circuit Trek is one of the best remote treks in Nepal. It usually takes 2-weeks and starts at Arugat and goes through the whole region. The highest point of the trek is Larkhya-La Pass at an altitude of 5106 m (16752 ft).
Enjoy an unforgettable Manaslu Circuit trek LED by a certified local guide.
What is the climate like on Manaslu?
The weather on Manaslu varies depending on the season. Pre-monsoon, during the Nepal spring (March to June), there are heavy snowfalls, more than on most other mountains in the area, due to the moisture on the Kali Gandaki River valley.
After the monsoon, in the Nepalese autumn (September to December), the terrain is rockier with only patches of snow and rainwater lakes. This is generally considered to be the best time to climb Manaslu.
How difficult is climbing Manaslu?
Starting from the fact that Manaslu is an 8-thousand meter mountain, it is obviously going to be difficult. Climbing it is only intended for seasoned mountaineers and of course, technical skills including glacier trekking, using crampons, fixed ropes, and other climbing equipment is necessary to tackle this challenging yet rewarding peak.
That said, the main challenge on Manaslu is the altitude and it is one of the easiest 8-thousand meter climbs after Cho Oyu, with lower avalanche risk than other mountains of similar altitudes.
What preparation do I need to climb to the Manaslu summit?
Photo courtesy of Sonam Bhote
Excellent fitness level and technical mountaineering skills are required to climb Manaslu. You will also need to be familiar with your equipment before the climb because there is no room for improvisation when you are climbing up that high in extreme weather conditions.
Preparation tips from a Nepal local guide
Train on steep glacier courses before your ascent.
Eat healthy, raw, bland food to get used to the high altitude mountain diet.
Get used to the equipment beforehand: at least 3x per week walk slow and steady with long sleeves and heavy boots for 2 hours without changing clothing, at high altitudes you will need to keep this kind of rhythm to preserve your energy.
Practice walking with a 15kg backpack, glasses, buff, and hats so that when you reach the high altitude and extreme weather, you are already familiar with your accessories and they don’t add discomfort.
Go to the summit of the highest peak near you and summit there with a guide to have a feel of what the guide-climber relationship is like, and to test your response to the altitude.
Oxygen supply is usually available on all Manaslu expeditions, and it is also common to administer Diamox, however, it should only be used in moderation as it causes dehydration.
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What equipment is required to climb Manaslu?
Insulated Camp Boots
Crampons and ice axe
Ropes and cords
Water bottle packs
Depending on the expedition, camping gear such as sleeping bags may also be necessary.
How much does climbing to the Manaslu summit cost?
Climbing Manaslu takes at least 1 month on a relatively fast ascent. It is a technical, high-altitude climb that requires professional guidance and superb logistics. On average, expeditions to the Manaslu summit will cost around USD 15 to 18,000 depending on what they include. Most full-price Manaslu expeditions include everything from permits to local transport, to accommodation, to meals, to oxygen supplementation, and more.
One of the benefits of climbing Manaslu vs. other 8-thousand meter peaks is that due to the easy access to the Base Camp, logistics are easier to coordinate, and therefore it is one of the cheaper mountains in this altitude range.
Climbing Manaslu is the adventure of a lifetime. Not only will it give you the chance to take your high-altitude climbing to a whole other level, and grant you unforgettable Himalaya views, but it will also give you the chance to discover local villages and deeply immerse yourself in Nepal culture. Once you’ve reached the gorgeous Manaslu summit, it’s only uphill from there, and that means one step closer to making your Everest dream come true.