Antonios Sykaris Dies on Dhaulagiri

Dhaulagiri has claimed the first life of the season. Antonios Sykaris of Greece reportedly fell ill soon after summiting Dhaulagiri yesterday.¬†Dawa Sherpa helped him down from the 8,167m summit to 7,400m, just above Camp 3. But at 4 am, over 15 hours after summiting, Sykaris collapsed “after a huge physical and mental effort and lack of additional oxygen,” his home team wrote.

He and Dawa were alone on the mountain’s upper sections at the time. Now, Dawa Sherpa is waiting at Camp 3 to be helped down himself. Seven Summit Treks has sent a rescue party to assist Dawa and to retrieve Sykaris’s body.

It is unclear whether Sykaris was climbing without supplementary O2 or whether Camp 3 had any emergency oxygen supplies. Climbers usually announce when they choose to go without oxygen, but Sykaris never said anything, one way or the other. He did use oxygen when he climbed Annapurna last year.

As recently as last Thursday, the Greek climber, who was around 60 years old, said that he was not yet sufficiently acclimatized.

Antonios Sykaris and Dawa Sherpa some days ago on Dhaulagiri. Photo: Antonios Sykaris

 

Timeline of Sykaris’s last days

Thursday: Sykaris meets Mingma G’s lead group in Camp 2. Mingma G offers to let him and Dawa join his team, bound shortly for the summit. Sykaris declines. He feels that he is not fully acclimatized and he doesn’t have his summit boots and down suit with him. The conditions on the mountain are excellent and the weather is sunny.

Friday: Sykaris goes down to Base Camp and asks a meteorologist back home for a fresh weather forecast. He is told that Monday will be the best summit day.

Saturday: Climbers usually rest for a couple of days after a rotation, but with the promising forecast, Sykaris hustles back up from Base Camp to Camp 2 at 6,350m in a 12-hour push, skipping C1. Meanwhile, Mingma G’s group summits Dhaulagiri.

Sunday: Sykaris and Dawa take 11 hours to go from Camp 2 (6,350m) to Camp 3 (7,329m). By evening, Mingma G’s group has safely reached Base Camp and flown back to Pokhara.

Monday: Dawa and Sykaris summit Dhaulagiri at 12:40 pm local time. This should give them time to get down to C3 before dark. Sykaris is well enough to text his family. dedicating his summit “to all Greeks, to all climbers”. To his baby granddaughter, he adds, “Iris, I am at the top!!!” Soon afterward, Sykaris falls ill.

Tuesday: Sykaris collapses at 4 am at 7,400m after 15 hours of struggle.

Mingma G and two members of Imagine Nepal team on the summit of Dhaulagiri on April 9. Photo: Mingma G

 

Fourth attempt

Sykaris had attempted Dhaulagiri three times before, in 1998, 2018, and in 2021, after succeeding on Annapurna. Last spring, like many others, he had to be evacuated as COVID ravaged Base Camp. He had previously climbed Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, and Manaslu. He also participated in (and survived) the commercial attempt on Winter K2 in 2021, which killed five people and led to the first winter summits.

Antonios Sykaris leaves Base Camp on Saturday, April 9. Photo: Instagram

 

Who else is on the mountain?

While the first summit group left for Pokhara right after reaching BC, other climbers remain. Billie Bierling of The Himalayan Database is currently on the approach trek as a member of Kari Kobler’s team. She told ExplorersWeb that Seven Summit Treks has a small team in place.

“Carlos Soria was at the Pokhara airport yesterday and was flying to BC,” she said. “Danny Gordin from Israel is going too.”