MANASLU "Killer Mountains" - An Explorersweb Series
13:59 p.m. EDT Sep 23, 2003
In ExplorersWeb's new series we investigate messages hidden in unique statistics compiled by AdventureStats. We look at fatality rates for the 14 8,000+ mountains. We started with the dreaded Karakorum/Pakistan giants and will now take a look at the Himalayan peaks. We compare modern and old fatality statistics, trying to determine the effects of the arrival of commercial expeditions in 1990s. AdventureStats is providing the research and later, will also look into the causes of deaths.
To date, Everest has hosted close to 2,000 successful summits. 179 people have perished giving a fatality rate of 9.3% (fatality rate is defined as successful summits compared to fatalities). However, since 1990 there has been an explosion of summiteers and fatality statistics have changed. Up to 1990, the Everest fatality rate is a whopping 37%, yet from 1990 until today the rate has dropped to 4.4%. So how does that compare to the rest of the 8000+ peaks? Let's check it out.
Today’s peak, Manaslu (8,163 m)
Manaslu, the world’s eighth highest mountain, is located in the Gurkha massif of Nepal just east of the Annapurna range. After H.W. Tilman’s initial reconnaissance in 1950 and three subsequent attempts by Japanese expeditions, Manaslu was scaled for the first time on May 9, 1956 by Japanese climber Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu Sherpa from India.
To date, 240 climbers have summited Manaslu and 52 have died. The overall fatality rate is thus 21.67%, more than twice Everest’s overall fatality rate of 9%. In recent years, however, statistics show that while Manaslu’s rate has declined by more than half, it is still more than double that of Everest’s modern rate. Up until 1990, Manaslu's fatality rate was 35.16%. From 1990 until today, 20 out of 149 climbers have died, and thus, Manaslu’s fatality rate diminished to 13.42%. Yet this is still more than twice Everest’s modern fatality rate at 4.4%.
With the old Everest risk at 37% and Manaslu’s at about 35%, the giants had staggering death/summit ratios that were nearly identical. In the last decade, however, both ratios have decreased dramatically. But Manaslu’s ratio is more than double Everest’s. In a later follow up, we will look at the causes, but the facts are an indication to climbers not to take Manaslu lightly.
Extending over 1,500 miles long and 250 miles wide as it passes through Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and India, the Himalayan mountain range is the longest, highest mountain range on earth and home to ten of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest. More than 110 Himalayan peaks rise over 7,000m.
This year, Piotr Pustelnik and Krzysztof Tarasewicz were the only two climbers to reach the summit of Manaslu. High winds caused the climbers to fall 300m, nearly knocking them off the mountain on their descent. The pair used a compass to guide them through the blinding snowstorm down to safety, but Pustelnik sustained frostbite on four of his fingers. Having summited twelve 8,000m peaks, he stated, “I found the expedition to Manaslu the hardest compared to my last three climbs. Maybe K2 in 1996 from North was harder. I didn't have such a bad weather even on Kangchenjunga in 2001, and now I understand why even excellent climbers were talking about Manaslu with such a deep respect.” No deaths occurred on the peak this year.
With an overall fatality rate of 21.67% and modern fatality rate decreased to 13.42%, Manaslu is statistically more dangerous than Everest today.
Previous Articles - Killer Mountain Series
Image of Manaslu courtesy of www.GnaroMondinelli.it