Winter Dhaulagiri: ‘It’s Not About Style, But About Respect’

Out of three winter expeditions this season, only one remains, after Alex Txikon and the Nepalis summited Manaslu and the Cho Oyu team retreated. Herve Baramasse and David Goettler are waiting on a lonely and frozen Dhaulagiri for the wind to die down. When they leave for the summit, they will have just one chance: Such are the “crazy” rules of alpine style, as Herve Barmasse puts it.

Barmasse walks up a slope on hard snow, skis on his backpack.Goettler lower down at the opposite end of the rope.

Barmasse on hard snow, skis on his backpack. Photo: Herve Barmasse/Facebook

 

“Climbing a winter 8,000’er in alpine style is a crazy idea,” Barmasse admitted in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. But he is happy to seize this opportunity to try to “change something important.”

In an interview with ExplorersWeb, his partner David Goettler expanded on that idea. They want to do something new, something that marks a new step in the evolution of high-altitude climbing, or not try at all.

Barmasse has shared the minimal gear he’ll bring up Dhaulagiri when the moment comes: 60m of rope, an ice screw, a snow spike, a quick draw, and three carabiners. “It’s not just a matter of style, rather I would say respect for what I love, the mountains,” he wrote.

Climbing gear displayed on the snow.

Herve Barmasse’s minimal climbing gear. Photo: Herve Barmasse

 

The pair will carry a small tent which they will pitch and retrieve as they go, leaving no trace of their climb. They have also brought skis although it’s unlikely they’ll use them on the peak’s higher slopes, given the poor snow conditions they found during an exploratory ski last week.

Waiting out the jet stream

Last weekend, the two climbers used a short period of weaker winds and climbed up to 6,200m. It’s not clear if they went up their planned route, but according to Goettler, the place felt “unreal.”

“I really have to pinch myself from time to time to really grasp where I am,” he said. Check the video of the trip on his Instagram:

Right now, the jet stream has dipped low, causing hurricane-force winds at altitude. There is nothing they can do but wait in Base Camp and try to stay as fit as possible. Barmasse said they will stay for another 20 days.

Dhaulagiri forecast

Multimodel forecasts for Dhaulagiri show hurricane-force winds at the summit for the entire week. meteoexploration.com

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She 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 local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.