Manaslu (8,163m)

The eighth highest mountain in the world 

Latitude: 28° 32’ 58” N, Longitude: 84° 33’ 43” E

Mt. Manaslu lies on the border between Gorkha and Manang districts in northern Nepal and 64 km east of Annapurna. The Manaslu region encompasses the sub-tropical foothills of the Himalaya to the arid Trans-Himalayan high pastures bordering Tibet. Manaslu is derived from the Sanskrit word Manasa and translates as “Mountain of the Spirit”. Out of the fourteen eight-thousanders, twelve were conquered by expeditions from the west while only two were accounted for by Asians. Shisha Pangma (eight-thousander) which lies in China was first climbed by the Chinese while Manaslu was first summitted by a Japanese expedition.

The famous Manaslu trekking route goes around the Manaslu massif over the pass down to Annapurna. The trekking trail follows the classic salt-trade route along the Budhi Gandaki river. The first Japanese Manaslu Reconnaissance Expedition ventured up the mountain in 1952 when the mountain was still a virgin peak. Following this, the first climbing expedition in 1953, went up the river Budi Gandaki’s course to reach the mountain. They were able to climb up to 7,750 m before turning back. The expedition that came after them in 1954 was not so fortunate. Inhabitants of Samu village which lay on their route denied them access to the mountain believing they would bring them misfortune. The mountain they said was sacred to them. As a result, the climbers were forced to turn to Ganesh Himal instead. After the Nepalese Government managed to pacify the villagers of Samu village, an advance party for the next expedition was able to make their way up towards the mountain. The third Japanese Manaslu Expedition led by veteran climber, sixty-two year old Yuko Maki arrived in Kathmandu in 1956. The team comprised Katsuro Ohara, Toshio Imanishi, Dr. Hirokichi Tatsunama, Sonosuke Chitani, Kichiro Kato, Junijiro Muraki, Kiroyoshi Otsuka, Dr. Atsushi Tokunaga, Yuichi Matsuda, Minoru Higeta and Takayoshi Yoda accompanied by Gyasten Norbu as sherpa sardar. This expedition had unique equipments, one of which was an oxygen generator which was set up in a separate tent from the climbers. From there oxygen was pumped to all the other climbers in their respective tents. But this required the dedication of the expedition doctor, who had to remain awake all night changing oxygen candles every one and a half hours. On 9th May 1956, Imanishi and Gyaltsen reached the summit of Manaslu becoming the first to do so. They could see Ganesh Himal, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Machhapuchhare poking through the clouds. Following them, Kato and Higeta also climbed to the top two days later. The Japanese team was the first Asian expedition to make a first ascent of an eight-thousander. The first Nepali national to climb the peak was Urkien Tshering Sherpa on 22nd April 1973. Tyangboche monastery.

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