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Asia, Nepal, Dhaulagiri Tragedy

Dhaulgiri Tragedy. The recent Argentine expedition chose the still unclimbed Pear route, pioneered in 1954 and 1956 by Argentines. Mario Serrano organized the expedition well and it got to the base of the climb by early March. By the end of April, the usual camps had been established and much of the Pear was fixed with rope. Serrano made a possible error, ordering a rest in Base Camp during good weather. The final attack began in the middle of May. The first summit-attempt team was composed of Serrano, Héctor Cuiñas, Alfredo Rosasco and Sherpa Sundare. They were to be followed by Marcelo Aguilar, Ulises Vitale and Bernardo Lyon. The first group got to the summit ridge of Dhaulagiri above the Pear at 7600 meters (24,935 feet), where they occupied Camp VI on May 22 after a bivouac. I believe that Serrano wanted to reach the summit on May 25, the Argentine national holiday. The weather was not good. On May 23 they decided to descend but not until 1:30 P.M. It was difficult to persuade Serrano to go down. They descended the fixed ropes separately. Before getting to Camp V, still above the Pear, Rosasco caught up with Serrano, who was having trouble with his crampons. They agreed that Serrano should remain in Camp V while Rosasco followed Cuiñas and the Sherpa. The three climbed down the Pear and got to Camp III (Advance Base) after nightfall. On the morning of May 24 all waited in vain for Serrano. Observing both from Base Camp and Camp III, they saw a black mass near where Rosasco had left Serrano and at 9:50 saw the mass begin to fall, rolling first down the Pear and then more to the east. It came hurtling down some 4000 feet before becoming lost in the crevasses of the glacier. During the plunge it was seen that it was a human body from which a pack separated. Those in Camp III tried to reach the place where the body had disappeared but snowfall erased all tracks. The expedition was given up.

Vojslav Arko, Club Andino Bariloche