Sophie Lavaud Leads All-Woman Team on Dhaulagiri

Sophie Lavaud of Switzerland and four partners, all with considerable 8,000m experience, are attempting Dhaulagiri — one of this spring’s popular targets, along with Annapurna and, of course, Everest.

Lavaud’s hyperactivity in the mountains over the last few months makes you wonder if there is still a pandemic. Last autumn, she was among the first foreigners to land in Nepal and ran from one peak to the next: Lobuche, Ama Dablam, Pisang Peak, and the previously unclimbed Kyangka Ri 2. Even then, she was planning to turn Dhaulagiri into her 12th 8,000m summit.

“I came up with the idea in winter when I learned that a Swiss TV team was to join me through the expedition to Dhaulagiri,” Lavaud told ExplorersWeb from the Khumbu Valley, where she is currently acclimatizing. “Filmmaker Lisa Roosli wanted a woman as a second camera operator — Caroline Fink — which made three of us. Then I met my friend, Vidiriana Alvarez, who was also climbing in Nepal, and she decided to join.”

Viridiana Alvarez on Ama Dablam this past winter. Photo: Viridiana Alvarez


From there, it quickly snowballed. Klara Kolouchova from the Czech Republic, Uta Ibrahimi from Albania-Kosovo, and Naoko Watanabe from Japan also signed on. With Lavaud’s 11 8,000’ers, Alvarez’s 5, Watanabe’s 7, Ibrahimi’s 5, and Kolouchova’s 3, they make a supremely experienced team that plans to go no-O2.

Further details will come soon about dates and their specific climbing plans. So far, we do know that Viridiana Alvarez is also intending to climb Annapurna this spring.

For Lavaud, a group of women climbers is no longer news, so the team jointly decided to support Prayaas, a local NGO that helps pregnant women and newborn infants.

Their expedition is the second female attempt on an 8,000m peak this spring, after a Nepali women’s team led by Maya Sherpa announced plans for Annapurna. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Maya Sherpa will also join Lavaud’s team for Dhaulagiri.

Lavaud has previously attempted to summit Dhaulagiri in 2018 and 2019.

A local woman blesses Sophie Lavaud, on her way to Ama Dablam this past winter. Photo: Sophie Lavaud