It was four long months ago in May when I trekked the Manaslu Circuit. It took us seven days to reach the Tibetan town of Samagaun as we rose up along the trail from 900m to 3500m. At that time as I trekked along the circuit, I had no idea I would be back four months later to attempt to climb Manaslu. It wasn’t something that really crossed my mind.
This time, there was no seven-day trek. We jumped in a helicopter at Kathmandu Airport and within an hour, we had touched down in the mountain town of Samagaun. I could spot each tea house I had stayed at as we cruised past in the helicopter. It was definitely the express route although much less immersive than the trek, which was one of my favorite adventures of the year.
We now had three to four days scheduled in Samagaun to acclimatize as we had just jumped from about 1200m in Kathmandu to 3500m in less than an hour. Samagaun is a beautiful town with lots to explore nearby so a few days here taking it all in would be great. It would also be an ideal time to get to know the team and start to gel on all fronts including the content creation. Having a team that works well together at a comfortable teahouse is imperative when we will need to work well together in harsh conditions up on the mountain and imparticular, in the death zone.
Back in May while trekking I stayed at the Norling Hotel but this time switched accommodations to the Manaslu Guest House, which is directly across the road. The guest house was buzzing with mountaineers and the regular chat that comes with this crowd about routes, previous peaks, weather, gear, and whether or not to use oxygen.
There were a few small adventures during our time in Samagaun. The first was a short hike to Birendra Lake where we stretched out our legs and took in the beautiful, emerald-colored lake. Clouds hid Manaslu Base Camp above but the waterfalls could be seen pouring down into the lake from the glaciers above.
Each night were went for a wander through the village chatting with local kids and residents of the village. It can often be difficult to connect with locals but with Pema being able to speak Tibetan we could communicate a little. More often than not our conversations were just had to tell the young kids we didn’t have any chocolate but they were super cute and very curious about the shutter button on my camera, which took a beating.
Our final outing was to a small plateau on the way to Samdo. Here we did a short mountain workout, which was definitely harder than at sea level. We were all out of breath as we tried to complete the military-style boot camp from our expedition leader Nims Dai. All the while, huge mountains loomed over us on either side although taking in the view while catching your breath is slightly less enjoyable than while on a casual trek from village to village.
To read my full article about the expedition you can click here: CLIMBING MANASLU MOUNTAIN (8163M)