American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Dhaulagiri, South Face and Traverse

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1982

Dhaulagiri, South Face and Traverse. On September 23 Stane Belak, Cene Bercic, Emil Tratnik, Rok Kolar, Jože Zupan and Janez Sabolek reached Base Camp at 12,950 feet below the south face of Dhaulagiri. Despite bad weather, the lower part of the face was reconnoitered until October 13 and a tent was set up at 16,900 feet. On October 15 Belak, Bercic and Tratnik set out from Base Camp and left that tent at 2:35 A.M. on the 16th. At nine o’clock they were halted for seven hours by rockfall at 18,200 feet but later that day continued to 18,700 feet. On the 17th they climbed a 50° icefield and the third rock band at 19,350 feet. They bivouacked at 20,000 feet. On the 18th they bivouacked at 21,000 feet and on the 19th at 22,750 feet. On October 20 they joined the Japanese route at the rock band on the southeast ridge at 23,950 feet, finding fixed ropes. On the 21st and 22nd they gained only 250 meters. On the afternoon of October 23 they reached the right edge of huge snow slopes below the summit at 25,600 feet. From there on there were no further technical difficulties. The weather had been growing increasingly inclement. At noon on October 24 they reached the highest point of the southeast ridge at 7950 meters (24,600 feet) where they left behind tent, stove, food. From there they descended the northeast ridge to 23,625 feet, where they found a tent, probably Japanese. A gas-stove they dug out burst into flames and was destroyed. On October 25 they descended and bivouacked in worse weather in the open without food or shelter. On the 26th the weather deteriorated even more but they fought their way down to 19,700 feet and bivouacked in a crevasse on the northeast col. On the 27th, in two feet of new snow, they plowed over the col to descend the glacier (scene of the accident of the Americans in 1969— Editor) toward the Tak Khola. They camped at 15,750 feet. On the 28th they traversed the dangerous glacier for 12 hours to bivouac in the moraine. On October 29, for the first time in 16 days, they saw other people and got their first food in six days. By evening they were in the village of Kali Pani. They were rejoined by their companions on the 30th. Because of frostbitten feet, Bercic continued the journey on horseback.

Franci Savenc, Planinska Zveza Slovenije, Yugoslavia

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