KATHMANDU: There a general understanding that the climbers should have reached the main summit point — the prescribed altitude of respective mountain — to qualify as successful summiteers. Mt Manaslu (8,163 m) which lies in western Nepal, however, has been a different case.
Most of the climbers who claimed victory over the world’s eighth highest peak avoided the main summit point in the autumn climbing season, according to some climbers and their support staff.
Expedition organisers claimed that over 150 climbers, including foreigners and Sherpas, stood atop the peak on September 30 and October 1 as the mountain witnessed a fair weather.
“Interestingly, there were three points with different altitudes to summit the mountain,” a climber shared. According to him, 90 per cent of the climbers, however, did not stand atop the main summit point.
According to Mingma Sherpa, Managing Director at Seven Summit Treks, it is a general practice on Mt Manaslu that climbers have different three options to make summit. “Main summit point at the altitude of 8,163 metres is quite tiny and it can accommodate only two person at a time,” he said.
It was quite impossible for all climbers to make it the main point as they found a very short-window to make a summit, he further explained.
Climbers also agreed that the two summit places situated some five to 10 metres below the main summit point.
“It’s not a serious issue,” Sherpa added.
Ang Tshering Sherpa, the President of Nepal Mountaineering Association, however, blamed the inexperienced rope-fixing team for causing such a mess in the mountain. “The team had not only delayed the rope-fixing work but also failed to place the ropes up to the main summit point,” he claimed.
Mingma, a record climber, however, was not ready to buy the NMA boss’ claims. “The practice to make summit in two more points than the main summit has been continued since early days,” he said, adding that it’s a tradition followed by all climbers even since or before Italian legendary climber Reinhold Messner made it to the top of the peak.
Expedition Operators Association of Nepal had mandated the Seven Summit Treks to fix ropes to the climbing route up to the summit on Mt Manaslu this year.
The Department of Tourism said that it had only issued certificates to an expedition team which returned from Mt Manaslu till date. It was a difficult task for DoT to verify the claims of climbers whether they made it to the height of 8,163 m, according to an official.
“The liaison officer of the respective group should recommend for certificates saying he/she stayed at the base camp throughout the climbing period while the team also needs to submit summit photo to get a summit certificate,” the official said.
Asthmatic Canadian claims summit without O2
Christopher Manning, a Canadian mountaineer who suffers from asthma patient, said that he along with his climbing partner successfully climbed Mt Manaslu without artificial oxygen in the autumn season.
Sharing his experience with THT Online, the alpinist said that he and Amy McMillin from Seattle of the US successfully submitted the peak without climbing Sherpas and supplemental oxygen.
“I might be the first with asthma to climb the world’s eighth highest peak without oxygen,” he said, “The summit point itself was a ‘nightmare’ as it’s very, very small.”
According to him, his dream was to climb many of the 8000m peaks and Mt Manaslu was the perfect start, with it being in Nepal and a relatively easy objective.
He observed that the government has to enforce cleanliness in mountains, recalling that there was no one on the mountain to enforce the rule of garbage deposit.
“I’m not overly impressed with our liaison officer who showed up for one day and it’s a joke and frustrating,” he commented.
Theft is also an issue where we had a cache, two shovels and a rope stolen in two separate incidents, he added. “Amy and I did acclimatise and tried to set up higher camps. But our Camp I cache was stolen so, we ended up hauling everything up the mountain in a single push for the summit.”
“The actual climb is quite straightforward and with seemingly limited danger in only a few spots,” he said, “I’m not surprised the death rate has dropped so much over the years and safe camp placement at Camp III and the route between Camp II-III needs to be thought out.”
The climber who also runs Summit8000 along with Bangaluru mountaineer Satyarup Siddhanta said they would return to Mt Everest, Mt Cho Oyu, Mt Shishapangma and Mt Manslu next year. “As I’m planning on Mt Everest without oxygen, I will certainly be the first asthmatic to climb without oxygen and support staff if successful.”
Mt Amadablam overcrowded
More than 200 climbers representing 18 teams have already left for Khumbu region to attempt to climb Mt Amadablam (6,812 m).
According to Gyanendra Shrestha, an official at the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Mt Amadablam topped the autumn chart receiving over 200 foreign climbers in the autumn season.
“Most of the world climbers have already reached the base camp to acclimatiSe while the DoT issues a 45-day permit to each expedition in the season.”
Meanwhile, climbers have claimed that rope-fixing work was being delayed due to lack of sufficient number of trained Sherpas.
“We found only two Sherpas at Camp II to fix the ropes,” Nima Gyalzen Sherpa who was at Camp II with his team shared.
Iswari Poudel, Managing Director at Himalayan Guides said that the team would fix the ropes up to the summit within the next three days.
“The delay was caused by bad weather as there were six more Sherpas to fix the ropes,” he claimed. EOAN has assigned HG to fix ropes on Mt Amadablam this season.