Change of Plans on Dhaulagiri

For two ambitious Ecuadorian climbers, the unexpected withdrawal of their third member was “a low blow”.

Esteban Topo Mena and Carla Pérez may be forced to change their plans on Dhaulagiri after their third member, Cory Richards, decided to cancel. He reportedly arrived in Base Camp, stayed a few days, and left without explanation.

“Although I understand that we must prioritize ourselves, I can’t deny that his decision has been a low blow,” Carla Perez wrote.

“Only two people on a wall for a route of this magnitude — dividing loads, [trailbreaking], climbing pitches, and if something serious happens to one of us — goes beyond the risk that I can handle now,” she says.

Perez admitted that she is not “the strongest of climbers”, although she summited both Everest and K2 without oxygen. The Ecuadorian couple intended to climb Dhaulagiri’s NW Ridge.

The two climbers are currently in Base Camp with cameraman Tommy Joyce. He captured an image of Dhaula’s lower section, below, in which one can (barely) spot two tiny figures.

Dhaulagiri’s lower sections. Photo: Tommy Joyce


While they debate what to do, Pérez and Mena have trekked around to the normal route, quite far from their own Base Camp. Along the way, they met Stefi Troguet and Jonatan García, and the four of them climbed the lower section of the route until Camp 1. The route has not yet been fixed, so they climbed with no ropes or broken trail. Troguet and García remained in Camp 1 for the night, and have moved up to Camp 2 today.

Most climbers aiming for Dhaulagiri’s normal route are on Seven Summit Treks’ permit and are still completing their acclimatization hikes or busy on another mountain.

Pérez and Mena are not the only ones with the NW Ridge of Dhaulagiri in their sights. Slovak Peter Hamor and Romanians Horia Colibasanu and Marius Gane have come to complete the route along the ridge that they left undone in 2019. The team celebrated the puja ceremony on April 8 and they have shared no further news since then. They may have started the climb.