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Mt Manaslu tops autumn chart with 135 climbers; Septuagenarian Spaniard heads for Mt Dhaulagiri

Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontan stands on a mountain in this undated file photo. Courtesy: Carlos Soria Fontan

KATHMANDU:  At least 135 foreign climbers along with their high attitude workers are all set to attempt to climb Mt Manaslu (8,163m) in the autumn season this year while the Department of Tourism issued 168 climbing permits to the foreign climbers including 78-year-old Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontan till date.

According to the DoT data updated as of Thursday, at least 11 expedition teams have already obtained permit for Mt Manaslu while the department issued climbing permits to one each expedition on Mt Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Himlung Himal (7,126 m), Saribung (6,328 m ), Mustang Himal I (6,195 m) and Danfe Shail (6,103 m).

Seven Summit Treks is handling at least four expeditions on Mt Manaslu while Summit Climb, Satori Adventures, Mountain Experience, Climbalaya Treks, Ascent Himalaya, Himalayan Guides and Snowy Horizon Treks also applied for Manaslu climbing permits at the DoT in the autumn climbing season.

Soria and his seven-member team of international climbers already reached the base camp of the world’s seventh highest peak, according to Chhang Dawa Sherpa, Expedition Director at Seven Summit Treks. “Mt Manaslu will certainly draw more climbers,” DoT official Khem Raj Aryal said.

At least 168 climbers representing 16 teams have already headed for different peaks, he said.

Last year, Soria became the oldest person to climb Mt Annapurna (8,091 m) while his bid on Mt Dhaulagiri was foiled due to bad weather in the last spring season.

At the age of 51, Soria had summited Nanga Parbat, his first eight-thousander while the 2001 Mt Everest summiter also held the age record there as well as on the Mt Kanchenjunga (75 years), the Mt Lhotse (72), the Mt Manaslu (71), the Mt Gasherbrum I (70), the Mt Makalu (69), the Mt Broad Peak (68) and the Mt K2 (65).

After attempting Mt Dhaulagiri, Soria also aims to scale Mt Shisha Pangma in Tibet to be the oldest mountaineer to complete all 14 eight-thousanders once China reopens climbing activities in the region, Sherpa, whose company handles at least 60 climbers along with over 100 climbing sherpas and support staff on Mt Manaslu this season, said.

Expedition operators shared that there would be more teams of foreign climbers on Mt Lhotse and Mt Amadablam among others in the autumn season.

As many as 414 peaks are open for climbing in Nepal.

Depending upon the weather condition, climbers usually aim for the final summit attempt from the last week of September to mid-October.

 By Rajan Pokharel for THT

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