Manaslu, the 8th Highest Mountain on Earth
Manalsu, standing at 26,781 feet in the heart of the Nepalese Himalayas, is one of the world’s premier 8000 meter peaks. It is unique among the Himalayan giants in that an expedition to its summit is an achievable undertaking for ambitious intermediate climbers, making it the perfect entrance into the world of high-altitude Himalayan climbing. Manaslu is an excellent stepping stone towards Mount Everest, along with being a remarkable climb in its own right.
While the challenge of high-altitude climbing cannot be underestimated, the technical nature of the ascent is moderate. Our route is composed of snow slopes with short sections of ice and rock scrambling, using occasional fixed ropes for speed and safety. We climb in classic Himalayan expedition style, employing Sherpa who assist with load carrying and camp preparation. The assistance of expert Sherpa, many of whom have guided with us on Mount Everest, greatly increases our chances of success. We move up and down the mountain a series of times while establishing camps and acclimating to the extreme altitude. Supplemental oxygen is used for the summit attempt and while sleeping at High Camp. We build in extra days in our itinerary for inclement weather and slow acclimatization. The relatively short duration of the climb adds to the attraction of this tremendous ascent.
This is a fully guided ascent, led by Alpine Ascents guides who climb the mountain with you. We are one of few outfitters offering this comprehensive type of support, and as a result we have a high success rate and an outstanding safety record. It is worth noting that most outfitters merely offer a supported trek, where a single guide facilitates the logistics but does not act as a guide during the ascent.
This year’s climb will be led by legendary Ben Jones, our Mount Everest Lead Guide.
Alpine Ascents Success on Himalayan Peaks
Alpine Ascents has been a mainstay of Himalayan climbing since 1992. Our reputation in the Himalayas is superb and includes 301 summits of Everest to date and 83 Cho Oyu summits to date. In addition to our annual Everest climb, Alpine Ascents has led successful climbs of Lhotse, Shishapangma, Baruntse, and Island Peak.
As on Everest we offer one style of trip— a fully guided expedition with a low climber-to-guide ratio. This style has led to our historically high summit success rate, an excellent safety record, and extremely satisfied climbers.
A Brief Overview of Sherpa Life
Often inseparable from mountaineering, the Sherpas of Nepal inhabit much of the lower portion of the Himalayas known as the Solu-Khumbu or Khumbu. While their reputation as climbers is nothing short of historic, local Buddhist, animist, and cultural traditions have equally nurtured and impacted a fascinating relationship with Westerners and Western thought.
Sherpas became prominent to the West when British mountaineers began to set their sights on conquering Himalayan peaks. With the first Mt. Everest expedition in 1921, the skill, expertise, honesty, and dedication of Sherpas as guides and partners became an integral part of Himalayan climbing. The affinity of outsiders for Sherpa/Buddhist civilization has blossomed into an ever-increasing sharing, understanding, and friendship between cultures.
Prior to British expeditions, Sherpas revered the great mountains of the region as dwelling places of gods and goddesses, to which the thought of climbing was considered blasphemous. (“Chomolungma,” the Tibetan name for Everest, is the residence of Miyo Lungsungama, the goddess of humanity and prosperity.) Sherpas traditionally worked as traders, farmers, and religious folk. Along with these ancestral roles, leading climbs and treks has recently become a mainstay of the Sherpa economy.
“Sherpa” refers both to a tribal group and a job capacity as porter, climber, or trek leader. The term “Sherpa” means Easterner, referring to their origins in Eastern Tibet. The migrations of this Tibetan culture began sometime in the early 1400’s. Today, the Sherpa population in the Khumbu is about 5,000, with a total of roughly 35,000 living in Nepal.
SHERPAS ON EVEREST
The first notable and successful Everest climbing Sherpa was Tenzing Norgay. In 1952, Norgay accompanied Raymond Lambert to within 800 vertical feet of the still-unclimbed Mt. Everest. A year later, Norgay was asked to join the British team led by Col. John Hunt, which successfully summited Everest following the same route as Norgay and Lambert. Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first climbers to reach the summit. By the mid 1980’s, Sherpas had summited Everest many more times than Westerners. Ang Rita Sherpa, the most well-known climbing Sherpa, had amassed seven summits of Everest by 1995. In 1993, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa became the first Sherpa woman to summit Everest.
THE NAME KHUMBU
The name Khumbu comes from its guardian deity Khumbila Tetsan Gelbu. The literal translation is “Khumbu country god.” The teachings of Sherpa Buddhism talk of a spiritual understanding between all beings. This is probably why the level of hospitality and acceptance of Westerners comes naturally to the Sherpa. It should, however be mentioned, that Tibetans are also considered fierce warriors.
—Gordon Janow, Alpine Ascents Program Director
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