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.”

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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Jen
Jen
2 months ago

This is an so sad. I feel so sorry for his family. I hope he rests in peace.

Chris Warner
Chris Warner
2 months ago

Those of us on the Imagine Climb Dhaulagiri team are deeply feeling this loss. Many of us have known Antonio for years, summiting peaks like Annapurna with him. And all of us talked to him (receiving hugs of congratulations and answering his questions about the challenge ahead) as we descended and he climbed higher. Our memories of Antonio are of a gracious, generous and happy person. Yes, he had the drive of an 8000m climber and clearly pushed super hard on Dhaulagiri, but it is the acts of kindness and friendship that defined him as a climber. Quick to laugh,… Read more »

Marilyn
Marilyn
2 months ago

What a sad and preventable death.
I can’t even imagine any hobby of mine worth dying for.

Doug Shelby
Doug Shelby
2 months ago

I’m sorry for the family and friends that knew him. Gosh must have come on fast. PE or CE possibly… seemed to be a good decent guy most people generally liked. At first I kinda thought wow 60yrs old on Dhaulagiri… but you know what? Now… I’m thinking how many of us get to go out doing what we love… I’m not going to pretend that helps anyone feel better I’m sure he was a loss and there’s lots of heavy hearts. Godspeed Antonios

Le Mec
2 months ago

Very sorry for Antonios and his family. Eleven hours to climb a thousand meters on relatively moderate terrain well below 8000 meters? That’s a bad omen, especially when climbers over 50 yrs of age have a much higher risk of heart attack and/or stroke.