Will the Old Guy Make it At Last? Carlos Soria in Camp 3 on Dhaulagiri

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story, based on Soria’s latest communication, said that he was going for the top tonight. An even more recent post delays that summit push for a day. After the long trek to C3, he will spend the next 24 hours resting, hydrating, and monitoring the weather.

Soon, Carlos Soria may have his best chance on a mountain that has foiled him a dozen times. Currently resting in Camp 3 on Dhaulagiri, the 83-year-old is preparing to leave for the summit on Tuesday evening, weather permitting. The mountain is not too overloaded with snow. And while forecasts show variable conditions, the wind should remain below 50kph.

Soria will use supplementary O2 for the final push. His old friend, Sito Carcavilla, plus six Sherpas will accompany him. Such strong support may diminish the climb in the eyes of some, but let’s cut him a break: He’s been trying to solve Dhaulagiri for decades. The large backup team also ensures that in case of trouble, external help won’t be necessary.

Carlos Soria (4th from left), Carcavilla on his right, and the six Sherpa climbers. An unidentified ninth person is far left. Photo: Carlos Soria


In fact, the old alpinist is fighting more than altitude and cold. After years of failure, he also wants to prove that he is serious about summiting. Every season, he punctually shows up in Base Camp, even though a lack of sponsors has hampered recent attempts. Most companies likely hesitate before supporting such a risky endeavor for a man of his vintage.

Every fresh attempt brings increasingly ironical comments from spectators, including fellow climbers, some of whom may consider Soria a kind of base camp pet.

What’s at stake

But make no mistake: Carlos Soria is a competitor. He was born and raised in a very humble family in the hard years following the Spanish Civil War. Soon, he discovered that the mountaineering could show his quality, beyond social background or position. Soria used to train daily when no other alpinist did. He excelled in rock, ice, and mixed climbing and took part in the first cross-country and ski-mountaineering races in Spain.

Later, he joined the pioneering (and very restrictive) early expeditions to the mountain ranges beyond western Europe. He also kept the family carpentry workshop going (with the help of his wife Cristina) and raised four daughters.

A couple of years ago, I asked Soria what he would do if he did summit Dhaulagiri.

“I’ll go for Shishapangma, of course!” he answered. Years ago, when he climbed the Tibetan 8,000’er, Soria stepped on the central summit (8,008m) but didn’t reach the main summit. He has been always honest about that. A success on Dhaulagiri would make Shishapangma the last on his 14×8000’ers list.

Multimodel forecast for the summit of Dhaulagiri. Credit: Meteoexploration.com