Manaslu

Manaslu © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA, Tiles: Mapbox
The mysterious 8,000 m mountain
  • Manaslu is located in the Central Himalaya between Annapurna and Ganesh Himal. Although it is technically one of the easiest 8000ers, it is not as popular as others and therefore fairly quiet.
  • It is said that Kambung, who reigns over Manaslu, allows only humble mountaineers to climb the summit, using weather changes, avalanches and icefalls to keep the gate.
  • We will trek along the wild, romantic Buri Gandaki valley with its traditional villages.
  • Should we complete the ascent in good time, there is the option of hiking through the beautiful woods to Pokhara.
  • Kobler & Partner have sucessfully climbed Manaslu several times.

It's no coincidence that its name means “spirit of the Himalayas” in Sanskrit. The Japanese made the first successful ascent in 1956 on the North-east face – today’s normal route. The Japanese must have been drawn to this mystical mountain, for they made another successful attempt in 1971. Three years later, in 1974, with the first all-female expedition to an 8,000 m high mountain, it was again the Japanese who successfully climbed to the peak of the Manaslu. However, it wasn't a Japanese expedition which made the first successful ski descent from 8,125 m in 1981, it was a German/Swiss expedition.
With Manaslu (8,163 m), Himalchuli (7,893 m) and Ngada Chuli (7,835 m), the Gurkha Himal forms a very dominant mountain range. It is confined by the gorges of the Buri Gandaki and the Marsyangdi rivers, which lead to the north side of the Himalaya massif, a fairly dry and typically Tibetan area. Of particular interest here are the huge mountain forest, reaching higher than 3,000 m. The village of Samo at 3,700 m will be our last contact with civilization. A good day's hike higher lies our base camp at 5,000 m.
By the way, who hasn't heard of the Gurkas, the strong and fearless soldiers who fought under the British crown? This is where they were recruited – if that isn't something to be inspired by...
In 1972, an entire Korean expedition was buried by an avalanche. Indeed, heavy snow fall and sudden weather changes are quite common for this mountain. It is arguably due to the unpredictability and the originally longer walk, which was needed to reach the base of the mountain, that this ice giant has remained less well known than other 8,000 m high mountains.

Travel Programme

Day 1: Flight to Kathmandu

Day 2: Arrival in Kathmandu
After our arrival in Kathmandu and a leisurely first meeting in the garden of the Shangri La hotel, we will have the opportunity to explore the centre of Kathmandu. Overnight stay at a hotel.

Day 3: Kathmandu
Sightseeing in the Kathmandu valley. The guide of our expedition will be busy with organising the necessary paper work in the various ministries.

Day 4: Drive Kathmandu (1355m)–Besisahar (1100m)
Driving from Kathmandu to Besisahar, we'll slowly get used to things which are different here such as the food, the temperature and the simple way of living of the people in Nepal. At first, the drive will lead along the most important connection in Nepal from Kathmandu to India. After about two thirds of the stretch, we'll head north, towards Phokara. In Dumre, we'll once again change course to finally get to Besisahar. This small village is the starting point for entering the Manang valley. Overnight stay at a hotel.

Day 5: Besisahar–Ngadi (890 m) or Shyange (1,100 m)–valley–Dharapani (1,900 m)
Today, we'll drive off-road to the starting point of our trekking. Our route may depend on the road conditions. Overnight stay at a lodge.

Day 6–9: Hike from Dharapani (1,900 m)–Karche–Bimtang (3,720 m)–Larke Bhanjyang pass (5,100 m) –Samdo (3,690 m)–Samagaon (3,530 m)
Our trekking will lead us across the high Larke Bhanjyang pass to the valley of Samagaon. This walk-in route has a few advantages which are not to be underestimated. Firstly, it allows us to shorten the amount of days used for the walk in. Secondly, this route forces us to already ascent to fairly high altitudes before base camp, which is highly beneficial for good acclimatization. If we were walking in via Salleri and Ranagaon, we would be walking for a long time through a valley at a low altitude – the acclimatization would happen only late, maybe too late. Thirdly, we'll be walking in the rain shadow, north of the Annapurna chain, so that we'll hopefully have less precipitation. The trekking route from Dharapani isn't used much. We'll follow this lesser used route to Samagaon. In the beginning, we'll nevertheless be able to benefit from the well-established infrastructure of the Annapurna region. Overnight stay in lodges.

Day 10: Rest day
On our well-deserved rest day, we will organise the porters for our ascent from Samo to base camp at 5,000 m. The locals, originally from Tibet, place much value on their autonomy and do not tolerate porters from the lowlands. Overnight stay in tents.

Day 11: Ascend to base camp (5000m)
Samo will remain our link to the outside world. From here, we'll be supplied with fresh food, and the porters will bring our equipment up to the base camp at 5,000 m. First, the path follows grassy fields, which are then followed by steep slopes. Overnight stay in tents.

Day 12–43: Ascent of Manaslu (8163m)
Time and time again, we see that good acclimatization is crucial for the success of an expedition. Slow acclimatization on the walk-in saves time on the actual climb on the mountain. This is one of the main reason why we do not fly to Samo by helicopter. Over the course of the next four weeks, we'll come to see that the walk-in was well worth the exertions. Overnight stay in tents.

Ascent route:
We will need three high camps:
Camp I: 5,800 m
Camp II: 6,800 m
Camp III: 7,400 m

With the help of our high altitude porters, we'll have to set up the camps and bring up equipment and food. In between setting up camps, we will ascend and descend short stretches to support our acclimatization process. The ascent via the Northeast face is relatively easy.

Base camp (5,000 m)–Camp I (5,800 m)
First, we'll have to cross the moraine on which our base camp lies. We'll ascend up to the initially flat glacier. Shortly before camp I, we'll have to cross an easy rock barrier, on which we'll set up camp I at 5,800 m.

Camp I–Camp II (6,800 m)
Our route is now becoming slightly steeper, but it will still be fairly easy until we reach the most dangerous part of our ascent: a serac zone called the “hour glass” because of its shape, which towers above us. Each year, the situation is different. Potential breaking off of material is a danger which must not be underestimated, yet in other years, for instance during Kobler & Partner's ascent in 1997, the seracs were harmless.
The two most strenuous sections are yet to follow. The first of these two slopes will get us to Camp II at 6,800 m. This slope is partially secured by fixed ropes and is maximally 40 degrees steep. Camp II will be under a stable serac, well protected from wind blowing from south.

Camp II–Camp III (7,400 m)
After a short flat section, the second difficult stretch follows, a 45 degree steep, 300 m long slope, which we will secure with fixed ropes. At 7,400 m, we'll reach Camp III. It's situated on a pass which is often exposed to strong winds, so we'll have to make sure to secure our tents well.

Camp III–Summit (8,163 m)
The ascent to the summit across the plateau is technically easy, not too steep – but incredibly long! Those last steps to the summit are really something... But the sight onto Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, Cho Oyu and Mount Everest is truly amazing!

Descent, disassembling the camps and transporting the entire equipment down will again require everyone's full commitment.

Day 44: Base Camp–Samo
The descent to Samo will be made via the same route we took for the ascent. Overnight stay in tents.

Day 45–48: Samo–Kathmandu
Hike or possibly flight back to Kathmandu – this depends on the previous course of our expedition. If there is only little time left, our mountain guide will organise a helicopter flight to Kathmandu. The decision will be made by the entire group in the base camp.

Day 49: Kathmandu
Depending on when we arrive, we'll enjoy one or two days in Kathmandu. We'll explore the markets and temples, and the men among our group may want to take the opportunity of having their beards shaved at one of the local barbers.

Day 45: Charter flight from Kathmandu

The helicopter flights cost about USD 5,600 per flight; each flight can accommodate maximally 5 people. A helicopter flight from Sama to Phokara or Kathmandu takes about 2 days, incl. one spare day. The trekking back to Besisahar takes 4 days and furthermore offers a unique experience. Given that the costs for a helicopter flight are comparatively high, we usually prefer the trekking. For this reason, we decided to remove the helicopter flight from the included services.

Included services
  • International flights, incl. airport taxes
  • Baggage (for allowance see K&P handbook)
  • All transfers, trips by bus and jeep
  • Organisation of the entire expedition
  • Information meeting Bächli Bergsport in Bern
  • Tips on behalf or Kobler & Partner (for individual tips K&P handbook)
  • Summit fees
  • Full-board during entire expedition (for individual snacks see K&P handbook)
  • Hotel accommodation in twin rooms (see travel programme)
  • Good group tent, toilet tent, shower tent
  • 1 tent per participant at base camp
  • 1 tent per 2 participants on walk-in and in the high camps
  • Light mats for the high camps (for further information see K&P handbook)
  • Fixed ropes, mountain ropes, ice screws, etc.
  • High mountain stoves (gas) and cooking utensils
  • Communication (radio) at base camp (12 volt)
  • 1 walkie-talkie per 2 participants (9 volt)
  • Satellite phone, call charges excluded
  • Receiving and sending e-mails, 10 text e-mails included
  • Weather forecast from Meteotest Bern
  • Solar equipment with light in the group tent
  • Electricity in base camp to charge electrical appliances (limited use)
  • Porters to base camp and back
  • 1 rescue sled
  • Oxygen for emergencies
  • Extensive pharmacy with a pulse oximeter at BC
  • Pharmacies in the high camps
  • Postcards
  • Kitchen: cook and kitchen assistants
  • 1 local high porter per 3 participants, well-equipped by Kobler & Partner
  • Liasion officer
  • Certified mountain guide
  • Last but not least, a hot water bottle for cold nights...
Excluded services
  • Cancellation insurance (see "insurance")
  • Helicopter flight Kathmandu–Sama–Pokhara or Kathmandu
  • Visa for Nepal (see "travel documents")
  • Beverages
  • Personal medication (see K&P handbook)
  • Individual, performance related tips for our local helpers are much appreciated!
  • Additional costs arising due to changes to the planned course
Support

Support through high porters

Creativity and new ideas are also in demand for summitting high mountains. K&P have devised a plan to offer guests a service which other agencies do not yet provide.
For many years, K&P have been offering more than the “included services” promise, as our regular guests (80%) know.

Support for carrying luggage
It's long standing practise that K&P guests are accompanied by high porters on the mountains. K&P want to raise the success at high mountains. Our ideas have proved of such success on Everest expeditions, where summit success could be increased manifold, that we would like to extend these services.
As a facultative option, we organise high porters which help with the carrying of luggage. This is only for customers who want and need it – there are no additional costs for other customers.

“Two in one”
Firstly, hiring high porters means that more high porters receive work.
Furthermore, it results in the groups being less spread out during the ascent, which means that they can reach the camps as well as the summit together. Also, the safety is increased and if there is need for a rescue operation, more manpower is at hand.

It is possible to give the high porters some of your personal luggage. With personal luggage only the luggage which is mentioned on the equipment list in the handbook is meant.
Additional costs for the carrying of personal luggage will differ from case to case. High porters in Tibet cost about three times as much as those in Nepal or Pakistan. We will communicate the additional costs per kilo for carrying luggage into the different high camps prior to the expedition.

Shared high porters
Another popular option emerged over the course of the last years: “half” a high porter. For instance, a high porter could work for K&P when not needed by the customer, and thus help the entire group. As mentioned above, costs can differ hugely.

High altitude mountaineering with bottled oxygen

The mention of bottled oxygen has, especially in the German-speaking world, often negative connotations. But why?

  • Many people think thank an ascent where bottled oxygen was used isn't morally “clean.”
  • 98% of these at times almost fanatic discussions are generated by non high altitude mountaineers, our stay-at-home friends.
  • The mountaineering elite want and have to set themselves apart from normal mountaineers and thus foster ascents without bottled oxygen.
  • Do ascents with bottled oxygen count or do they only count if done “by fair means”?

If ordinary people want to fulfil their dream by scaling a high mountain, the use of bottled oxygen reduces the risk of frostbite, performance drops and lack of concentration significantly.
The possibility of reaching the summit in an adequate timeframe is higher and the risk of injury lower.
If we look at the number of accidents, especially of those who reached the summit without bottled oxygen but then got injured during the return journey, the numbers speak for themselves.

For mountaineering, there are no universally fixed rules like there are for competitive sports such as sprinting, rowing or showjumping.
Thus, every ascent counts, no matter how or with what aid it was done. People just have to declare clearly and honestly how the summit was reached. What counts as a “clean” ascent and what doesn't is an issue for the moralists.

With more than a dozen ascents of Mt. Everest, Kobler & Partner have gained experience with bottled oxygen. We would like to share our knowledge and thus recommend using bottled oxygen for the ascent of eightthousanders.
The use of bottled oxygen remains voluntary and the amount necessary differs from individual to individual, which is why bottled oxygen is not included in the price.
We know that many mountaineers will try the ascent without bottled oxygen despite this recommendation.

Costs:
Inspected and filled oxygen bottles have to be bought in time prior to the expedition. Thus, payment is required in advance. Non-usage cannot be reimbursed as the oxygen bottles have to be re-inspected and possibly refilled.
Costs for transporting the oxygen to base camp or ABC are paid by K&P.
Additional transportation capacity for transporting the oxygen to the high camps will be put at disposal by K&P. Costs for this transportation can be paid on site.

K&P can offer the best oxygen systems which are currently available. Together with our German partner we develop our own regulators and produce these in small quantities.

Renting costs of oxygen bottles:

  • 1 oxygen bottle (4 litres, 250bar): USD 480
  • 1 regulator: USD 350
  • 1 mask (summit mask): USD 350

In case of damage to a rented system it will be repaired at the expense of the rentee and charged to his/her account.