First in 45 years, 22 climbers make rare autumn ascent of Manaslu main summitThe main peak is 8,163 metres high, and the mountaineering fraternity has lauded the climbers for making it to the ‘true summit’.
Mountaineers have scaled the main summit of Mt Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world, in autumn, accomplishing a feat not seen since 1976.
Led by Mingma Sherpa, better known as Mingma G, 14 Nepali and eight foreign climbers achieved the rare feat on September 27 for the first time in 45 years. The main peak is 8,163 metres high, and the mountaineering fraternity has called it the “true summit”.
“Many foreigners have been debating if Manaslu’s main summit can be climbed in the autumn season. On September 27, we proved it,” Mingma G told the Post over the phone.
“In fact, Mt Manaslu has been climbed every year, and even reaching the fore-summit, which is just below the main summit, is accepted as a successful ascent. The main summit is 6-7 metres higher than the fore-summit, and it has never been climbed since 1976,” he said.
As the last short section, a snow-covered rock outcrop, is very steep, climbers normally do not venture there during the autumn and winter.
“It’s like a sharp knife ridge which is daunting and dangerous. So climbers normally go up to the fore-summit and return,” said Mingma G, who was one of the members of the K2 winter ascent. K2, the world's second highest mountain in Pakistan, was climbed in winter for the first time in January.
“The new route was difficult, but we did it with perfection.”
The team started their summit push from Camp 4 at 3am on September 27, and reached the summit at 9:40am.
“I hope there will be no more fore-summits in the future. Top is always Top, no more ups, everything below you,” Mingma G wrote on his Facebook page. “It was not easy. The team gathered at 8,100 metres, a place where people usually stop because they can’t climb to the summit because of the tricky ridge and risk. Then, we traversed down a little below and again climbed to the main summit,” said Mingma G.
“We explored the new route. Hopefully, it will help climbers to follow the footstep.”
Tobias Pantel, who keeps a record of every technical climb on the Himalayan Database, posted on his Facebook page: “This is a big day for Himalayan mountaineering!”
The Himalayan Database, the expedition archives of American journalist Elizabeth Hawley, is a large digital and published record of mountaineering in the Nepal Himalayas since 1903. It has congratulated Mingma G and his team on reaching the “true summit” and the highest point of Manaslu in autumn 2021.
“This is the second time this point was reached during the autumn season, and the first time since 1976,” the Himalayan Database wrote on its Facebook page.
“As this is a significant day for Himalayan mountaineering and will have implications on how the Himalayan Database will report on Manaslu summits, the team will sit together to come up with a strategy on how to deal with future and past summits of the world’s eighth highest peak.”
The Manaslu summit has been marked by real confusion over what constitutes the true summit, and who historically and currently reached it, famed mountaineer Alan Arnette said in a blog post.
One of the climbers, photographer Jackson Groves, flew a drone near the summit and captured stills and footage of the historic summit.
“For Manaslu, the issue is the last few metres to the summit is across a heavily corniced snow ridge that is virtually impossible to place protections (ice screws, pitons, etc) to protect climbers from crossing it,” he said.
“So this year, Mingma, building on his winter K2 success, wanted to make a point. This time he proved he made his true summit with the help of drone pictures and videos he shot. Instead of crossing the corniced ridge, he is shown taking a drop-down route across a 70-degree face then climbing to what apparently is the true summit. It appears genuine,” he wrote.
“Then all the other climbers who claimed a summit this season without following his path will be noted as reaching the fore-summit.”
This autumn, the Department of Tourism which is responsible for issuing mountain climbing permits, has issued permits to 171 climbers aspiring to climb Manaslu, which lies in Gorkha district in central Nepal.
While there has been a feat of bravery and discovery, Canadian mountaineer Brent Seal, 37, climbing with TAG Nepal, died during the summit. His cause of death has been reported as a stroke or heart attack.