Dhaulagiri: Heavy Snow, Rockfall Keep Teams on Edge

8000ers Mountain
Sergi Mingote on Dhaulagiri Photo Sergi Mingote

As Manaslu and Everest wrap for the season and Nirmal Purja ponders his options, the focus turns to Dhaulagiri. Sergi Mingote set off for Camp 2 earlier today, hoping to reach the summit on Wednesday. A number of climbers are joining his attempt, although some of them, including Carlos Soria, are retreating to Base Camp because of bad conditions.

Sergi Mingote on arrival at Camp 2 today. Photo: 14×1000 Catalonia team

“Conditions are far from great, but we should go up and bag the summit before October 3, when forecast shows winds picking up,” Sergi Mingote reported early today before leaving Base Camp for Camp 2 with Juan Pablo Mohr and Moesses Fiamoncini.

They reached Camp 2 after a 10-hour trudge through deep snow. “We will assess conditions tomorrow and decide whether to proceed up to Camp 3, or back down,” he said. If it’s a go, Mingote plans to pitch his small tent slightly above Camp 3’s usual location tomorrow in order to try to reach the top on Wednesday.

Dhaula climbers cluster for a group pic. Photo by Luis Soriano, climbing with Carlos Soria (third from the right).

Carlos Soria and his team also set off from Base Camp, breaking trail through deep snow to Camp 2. The tough slog discouraged them from proceeding further. Instead, they’ll return to BC and wait till conditions settle. In Base Camp, they’ll meet Ali Sadpara of Pakistan, fresh from summiting Manaslu and hoping to make Dhaulagiri his 4th 8,000’er this year, and Bulgarian Atanas Skatov who, according to his tracking device, is still in Base Camp.

Snow sluffing down Dhaulagiri’s flanks. Photo: Chris Jensen Burke

Dhaulagiri climbers have commented on the loads of snow, frequent avalanches, relentless bad weather and even “searing heat” up to Camp 2. Most have just done one acclimatization round, but the clock is ticking on summit possibilities. The 30 foreign climbers plus about the same number of Sherpas are grouped in small teams and sharing the two permits managed by STT. Teams may join forces, according to Australian Chris Jensen Burke, because the route has only been fixed up to Camp 3. “We need to move more ropes up before route setting can occur higher up. Cooperation will be critical,” Jensen Burke said. She estimates that from Base Camp, the climb requires three-and-a-half days up and one to two days down.

She also outlined what makes Dhaulagiri different from some other 8,000’ers:

“[Here] you need to move from BC just at the right time in order to manage the risk of avalanches and [rock fall]. Normally on other big mountains, it is possible to move through some bad weather to get good weather at the summit. For Dhaulagiri, you need the right weather to actually climb out of BC. As two climbers experienced today, dodging large deadly rocks on the traverse as they release explosively and zoom past you as you dive for cover is a very uncomfortable feeling indeed…”

Finally, Jensen Burke provided some gossip about Nirmal Purja. According to her, Purja may climb Dhaulagiri for the second time this year in the next few days. The Himalayan Times, however, points to Gyachung Khan as a suitable alternative if Purja fails to get permission from the China Mountaineering Association to climb the currently closed Shishapangma.

Gyanchung Khan, rising between Everest and Cho Oyu to 7,952m, is the 15th tallest mountain in the world, not counting secondary points of the 8000’ers. To Purja, it would not be the same as Shishipangma, of course. In the last six months, the Nepali hard man has stunned climbers and non-climbers worldwide by knocking off 13 out of the 14 8,000’ers, only to be stymied on the very last peak by an unexpected problem that he cannot surmount: Chinese bureaucracy.

Nepal’s Minister of Tourism spoke on his behalf, but has received no answer. In his latest update, Purja lists his achievements and the unimaginable effort they have taken. In what sounds a little like a last resort, he then asks people around the world to contact China Mountaineering Association on his behalf. “I have done everything I could have done from my side,”  Purja wrote. “If we all go as a collective force, it may help.”

Manaslu and Everest wrapping up… Or are they?

As reported yesterday on ExplorersWeb, Andrzej Bargiel finally abandoned Everest. Today, he explained the situation in a video with English subtitles.

So the mountain is now deserted… except perhaps for Kilian Jornet. As reported by Spanish climber and blogger Carlos Garranzo, Jornet has a permit for Everest and Lhotse, and Bargiel’s pictures locate him in Base Camp — but his whereabouts and intentions can no longer be considered news, just gossip.

The latest Killian Jornet sighting, at Everest Base Camp with Andrzej Bargiel (left). Photo: Everest Ski Challenge

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Stefi Troguet — initially dismissed as an Instagram flavour of the week — has not only become this year’s Himalayan It Girl, thanks to her complete reports, colorful photos, ever-positive attitude and permanent smile, but also gained unanimous applause as a strong climber with a promising career ahead of her. Asked whether she used supplementary O2 on Manaslu, she showed what it means to clear up facts in style!

About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Sport journalist, published author and communication consultant. Feeling back home at ExplorersWeb after five years exploring distant professional ranges. From Dec19 to Feb20, I'll be also working as press manager for Alex Txikon's expeditions to Antarctica, winter Ama Dablam and winter Everest.

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