Peak 29 (7,514 m.), sometimes called Manaslu II, or Dakura Himal, which is located between the two giant peaks of Manaslu (8,156 m.) and Himalchuli (7,893 m.), was an unknown peak until the 1960s, when we started the exploration of it and its surrounding area. It sounds rather incredible that such a big peak and an extensive area around it had been left unknown in spite of the quite familiar, seemingly accessible appearance of the two neighbouring peaks, Manaslu and Himalchuli, which are even seen from the town of Kathmandu.

Nevertheless, P-29 has been left unknown, because it is something like a hidden peak, not only hidden by Himalchuli when seen from Kathmandu but also hardly seen from any place in the Buri Gandaki valley, even if one could stand very close to the area, e.g. at Lho or Sama village, or at the entrance of the Pungen valley. On the other hand, P-29 is seen from the town of Pokhara as one of the members of the gigantic Manaslu range, but is scarcely seen from the Marsyangdi valley; this being the reason why it has not its own definitive name.

Maps are left blank or incorrect on both sides of this peak—to the east lies the Buri Gandaki basin, and to its west, the Marsyangdi basin.

The peculiar appearance of this peak was first noticed when a Japanese party was sent for the reconnaissance of Manaslu in 1952. Prof. K. Imanishi of Kyoto, a famous anthropologist, was the leader, and he brought back a picture of the source area of the Pungen glacier, surrounded by Manaslu and P-29, in which an inaccessible huge wall of the South-east face of Manaslu and the North-east face of P-29 were clearly shown.

  1. The First Expedition (1961, Pre-monsoon)
  2. The Second Expedition (1963, Post-monsoon)
  3. The Third Expedition (1969, Post-monsoon)
  4. The Fourth Expedition (1970, Post-monsoon)



The First Expedition (1961, Pre-monsoon)
led by Prof. G. Shinoda (Engineering School)
and Dr. S. Sumiyoshi (Medical School)

According to the reports and some photographs offered by the Japanese Alpine Club Manaslu party (1956) and the Japanese Alpine Club Himalchuli party (1959), the ice-wall of the east side was considered to be extremely difficult for climbing. However, the west side was left unknown in spite of some investigation by photographs from Namun Bhanjyang offered by T. Imanishi (1956) and the Keio University Himalchuli party (1960).

Sketch Map of P-29

Sketch Map of P-29

The first attempt was aimed to explore the west aspect of P-29, by way of the Marsyangdi valley, and to make a geographical study of the area, if possible to find out any climbing route and to explore it.

Geographical achievement

There were two glaciers found which were located in the northern and southern side of the west ridge of P-29. Reconnaissance was performed into the Mushi Khola and the northern glacier by crossing the west ridge over a col of 4,900 metres high (called Sumiyoshi-col, later on).

The Base Camp was established in the northern glacier and a peaceful glacier lake was discovered on the terminal moraine of this glacier.

This whole area was called ‘Thulagi’ by the villagers and, consequently, P-29 was decisively known as ' Thulagi Himal' by the local people; and the northern glacier as Thulagi glacier although those names had not been used, or even known, by the people outside of this small area.

Mountaineering aspect

On this west side, P-29 looked almost hopeless that year because of the extensively spread-out vertical rocky walls with small hanging glaciers. Furthermore, the innermost part of the Thulagi glacier was steep and narrow, where formidable avalanches poured down one after another throughout the day, furnishing an extensive mass of debris at the bottom of the basin ; it seemed extremely difficult to find out any possibility of climbing from this side.



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The Second Expedition (1963, Post-monsoon)
led by Mr. H. Kimura

Through the observation from the east ridge of Himalchuli, the Lidanda glacier looked almost hopeless. On the contrary, the Pungen glacier was considered to have a little more prospect for the ascent if one could have reached the col connecting the east ridge and the proper mass of P-29, although, at first, it was merely a vague hope, imagined only by a single sheet of an enlarged photograph presented by the Japanese Alpine Club Manaslu reconnaissance party (1952).

After exploring the upper part of the Pungen glacier, they came to ascend a couloir leading to the east ridge, which later on clearly became the only accessible route onto the east ridge, leading up to the main peak. From the first camp, a considerably wide ledge led them to P-l (one of the three small peaks on the east ridge), and they looked down to the col connecting the east ridge with the main peak. Moreover, they observed that the wide slope extending from the col up to the foot of the ice-wall, which spread extensively on the east flank of the main peak, seemed very promising.



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The Third Expedition (1969, Post-monsoon)
led by Dr. S. Sumiyoshi (Medical School)

Following the successful reconnaissance of the second expedition (1963) onto the east ridge, an attack to the final ice-wall was planned.

After Camp V was established on the col (6,200 m.), Camp VI site (6,900 m.) was easily chosen on a wide slope at the foot of the ice-wall, which extended up for 900 metres high to the summit. Most of the members fully performed climbing activities more than 10 days above the altitude of 7,000 metres, an evidence of the success of a nicely programmed acclimatization for the party members. They could only gain height of a mere 80 metres a day, owing to extremely hard ice, which split widely and shallowly like a shell-shape fragment even with a strong hack of an ice-axe; most of the time the ice-pitons were fixed insufficiently.

They had to give up further attempts, leaving yet 400 metres of unexplored ice-wall ahead of them to reach the summit.

Based upon those bitter experiences, the possible tactics to overcome the difficulties were discussed. It was decided to use a sharp-edged screw-piton against the hard ice, and a specially designed tent to be hung on the steep ice-wall. It was also considered necessary that the assault should be started 10 to 20 days earlier, i.e. begin it in early September, at least.



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The Fourth Expedition (1970, Post-monsoon)
led by Prof. (Emeritus) S. Mizuno (Medical School)
and Dr. S. Sumiyoshi (Medical School)

More than 10 days earlier than in 1969, the Base Camp (4,000 m.) was established on 12 September at the same place. In spite of much rain and frequent avalanche, Camp I (5,000 m.) was established on the 20th, and Camp II (5,800 m.) was reached on the 23rd close to the place of Camp III in 1969, saving the Advanced Camp of the preceding year.

The climbing members took rest for several days by returning to the Base Camp, in order to prepare their physical condition for the coming strenuous weeks at high altitude; similarly, in 1969, almost all the members were kept at altitudes of between 6,200 metres and 7,400 metres for more than 15 days, exerting themselves to make their route upwards.

Camp III of this year was placed on the col, beyond the P-l, of the east ridge, on 9 October at the altitude of 6,200 metres, at the place of Camp V in 1969. Camp IV (6,900 m.) was placed at the site of Camp VI of the previous year, 12 days earlier than before. Saving their energy to set up two camps, they were in good physical condition to begin the assault, owing to the successful acclimatization just like the last year.

Assault onto the difficult ice-wall, which has an average inclination of 45°, extending nearly 900 metres up to the summit of P-29, was begun on the 12th. The new ice-pitons furnished with sharp- edged screw and the 12-clawed crampons worked nicely. Although to work upon so hard an ice surface throughout the day under a continuous pouring down of snow- and ice-flakes was torturing, they gained the altitude of 7,400 metres, the highest point they had reached in 1969, on the 13th. Continual snow- and ice-shower, sweeping and hardening the ice surface, gave rise to considerable difficulty for the climbers, in spite of every part of the route being secured with fixed ropes, almost all the Sherpas, and some of the members, were swept down for a certain stretch, resulting in bruises and dislocations ; but only a few Sherpas and one of the members dropped their activity as a result. Fortunately enough, on 18 October, they found a suitable camp site in a bergschrund at an estimated altitude of 7,500 metres where Camp V was, established by five members and two Sherpas.

On the 18th, the first assault member, H. Watanabe, together with Sherpa Lhakpa Tsering, entered Camp V.

On the 19th, blessed with a clear sky, strong wind ceasing since the previous night, the two left Camp V at 6 a.m., leaving a message on the wireless set. Almost all the route they took was observed from Camp III, through a high powered telescope, fixed on a tripod by Dr. Sumiyoshi who was watching every exertion of the two ; Watanabe led the way all through. It had been expected that the most difficult stretch on the way lay just on the right hand of the exposed rock, so-called ‘Frog-rock’. It looked difficult to pass through over the ' Frog-rock' by the observation of the previous days. It took about four hours to pass through the difficult stretch, and at 11 a.m. when they took rest on an icy ridge above the rock, observers felt easy, expecting their success to reach the summit. Leaving that place, their progress was much faster as to have gained the snowy dome at 1.15 p.m., where they seemed to have nodded or embraced each other as if they had conquered the summit.

Their figures were lost behind the snowy dome until 3 p.m. when they were found steadily descending. The route was already in a shadow, and the observers standing at the lower camp began to feel chilly. They were seen at the place where they had rest in the morning (11 a.m.) as late as 4.40 p.m. At that time, all the members and Sherpas were already excited expecting their success. At the next moment Sirdar Illa Tsering, at Camp IV, uttered a cry, as he witnessed their falling down.

When the two were found lying on the icy slope, only 15 minutes' reach from Camp IV, there were no means left to save their lives.

They were still bound together with a rope, in spite of a longdistance slip they had made, nearly 700 metres in vertical measurement. Watanabe's ice-axe was found aside, broken in the lower half but still leaving the remains of a slender string, which was supposed to have tied the banners of Japan and Nepal when they reached the summit. The rucksacks, and cameras, and containers of the exposed films were found damaged. A fist-sized piece of stone was found aside, which had never been seen before. As this place was so close to the party's daily route to reach the ice-wall, this stone could not have remained unnoticed on such a wide ice- and snow-field.

Although the second assault should have been attempted from the standpoint of mountaineering and other members were in good physical condition to carry out a further assault, they were much disappointed when it was finally decided to give up further attempts, taking the villagers' strong feeling into consideration not to leave the two bodies on a sacred mountain; it was going to take considerable time and effort in order to bring down the two bodies from the high altitude of 7,000 metres to the Base Camp.2

1 The villagers of this area (the Buri Gandaki side) have a strong religious feeling to deem the Manaslu range as sacred mountain, not infrequently causing considerable trouble to mountaineering parties (e.g. the Japanese Alpine Club party, in 1954), and it was from the first, a firm promise to the villagers not to spoil this area, or not to leave any unwelcome remains on the mountain.

Region West of Dhaulagiri

Photo 1: Senya Sumiyoshi

Panorama taken from the west of Peak 29-the base camp in the Thulagi glacier

Region West of Dhaulagiri

Photo 2: Toshio Imanishi

Panorama from Namun Bhanjyang

Peak 29 from the east ridge of Himalchuli showing the route of the 1970 tascent

Photo 3: Toshio Imanishi

Peak 29 from the east ridge of Himalchuli showing the route of the 1970 tascent

Peak 29 from the east ridge of Himalchuli showing the route of the 1970 tascent

Photo 4

Peak 29 showing the upper part of the route

Upper route from camp III showing the position of the summiters at the various times on 19 October 1970

Photo 5: Senya Sumiyoshi

Upper route from camp III showing the position of the summiters at the various times on 19 October 1970

Watanabe and Lakhpa tsering at 11.00 a.m. on 19 October

Photo 6
Watanabe and Lakhpa tsering at 11.00 a.m. on 19 October

Watanabe and Lakhpa Tsering at 12.45 p.m. on 19 October

Photo 7
Watanabe and Lakhpa Tsering at 12.45 p.m. on 19 October

Watanabe and Lakhpa Tsering at 1.15 p.m. on 19 October

Photo 8
Watanabe and Lakhpa Tsering at 1.15 p.m. on 19 October

Watanabe and Lakhpa Tsering at 3.00 p.m. on 19 October

Photo 9
Watanabe and Lakhpa Tsering at 3.00 p.m. on 19 October

Vertical Panorama Summarizing the sequence of events relating to photographs 5 to 9

Photo 10
Vertical Panorama Summarizing the sequence of events relating to photographs 5 to 9

Photos by Senya Sumiyoshi from Camp III 6-9 with 50 mm lensx25 telescope

Photos by Senya Sumiyoshi from Camp III 6-9 with 50 mm lensx25 telescope

Moreover, Illa Tsering, the Sirdar, had given up his place in the second attack unexpectedly, perturbed at witnessing his brother's death. All the other Sherpas at Camp IV or Camp III were also in a state of panic, not only due to the fresh memory of witnessing the fatal fall, but also to their experience of the slippery route.

On the 23rd, the two remains were cremated near the Base Camp, after a funeral ceremony in presence of the highest Lama of Sama village.

Leaving Base Camp on the 28th, the party came back to Kathmandu on 10 November.


It is realized that through the repeated attack on P-29 by the Osaka University Mountaineering Club for the last 10 years, all the secrets around this concealed peak have become evident now. And we should like to add that the whole performance by the two who lost their lives on this peak was played in front of many observers.

It is a regret not to have carried out a succeeding assault directly after the fatal accident. The efforts on P-29 by the Osaka University Mountaineering Club have come to a termination, notwithstanding the tragic death of H. Watanabe and Lhakpa Tsering at the moment of success. Only time and history will tell the true value of their achievements.

[In order to make for clearer blocks, the press has had occasion to touch up the figures of the climbers in the photographs. The Editor wishes to confirm that the climbers' shapes could be clearly discerned in the original photos submitted and hopes that this will dispel any doubts in the mind of the reader].


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