Mt. Manaslu was first climbed in 1956 by a Japanese expedition. Its name comes from the Sanskrit word Manasa, meaning 'intellect' or "soul". This is the same word that is the root of the name of the holy lake Manasarover near Mt Kailas in Tibet.
The record on Manaslu in 2002 was 175 summiters, 120 expeditions and 49 deaths. HW Tilman and Jimmy Roberts photographed Manaslu during a trek in 1950, but the first real survey of the peak was made by a Japanese expedition in 1952. A Japanese team made the first serious attempt on the peak from the Buri Gandaki valley in 1953 when another team followed in 1954, the villagers of Samagaon told them that the first team had been responsible for an avalanche which destroyed a monastery, and refused to let the 1954 expedition climb. The expedition set off to climb Ganesh Himal instead.
Despite a large donation for the rebuilding of the monastery, subsequent Japanese expeditions, including the one that made the first ascent in 1956, took place in an atmosphere of animosity and mistrust. The second successful Japanese expedition was in 1971 there was South Korean attempt in 1971, and in April 1972 an avalanche which resulted in the death of five climbers and 10 Sherpas ended the second South Korean expedition.
Reinhold Messner made the fourth ascent of Manaslu as a member of a Tyroleam expedition that climbed the peak from the Marsyangdi valley in 1972.