American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Dhaulagiri Attempt and New Route up the East Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986

Dhaulagiri Attempt and New Route up the East Face. Marjan Kregar, Andrej Štremfelj, Dr. Iztok Tomazin and I planned to climb a new route to the right of the Kurtyka-MacIntyre route on Dhaulagiri’s 3500-meter-high east face alpine-style, reaching the standard northeast-ridge route at 7500 meters. We managed to complete our aim only partly because extremely bad weather gave us no more than three good days, October 2 to 4, during the 45 days we were on the mountain. We reached Base Camp at 4000 meters with 32 porters on September 18. The lower part is a 1800-meter-high rock-and-ice face on P 6014 to the right of the east glacier. An ice plateau at 5900 meters separates this slope from the 1700-meter-high 45° to 65° ice and snow face. We completed the ascent of the east face but were driven from the northeast ridge by cold and wind at 7600 meters. Despite variable weather, we managed to find a way across the east glacier to the foot of the wall but could not start seriously until October 1, when Tomazin and Štremfelj were able to climb a difficult rock section between 4900 and 5100 meters. On October 2 Kregar and I left Base Camp and climbed to the plateau at 5900 meters in 16 hours. We pitched a tent and descended the next day to Base Camp. The other two reached the plateau on October 4 and pitched another tent, returning to Base Camp on the 5th. The weather became a catastrophe; it snowed for 16 days. Štremfelj was ill in Base Camp and could not set out with us in bad weather on October 16. We other three did manage to reach the plateau in 18 hours and dug out one tent. After the tent was blown away, we dug a snow cave but were pinned down by winds. On October 19 we managed to find the other tent buried under three meters of snow and repaired it. On October 20 we descended to the lower glacier. Štremfelj came up from Base Camp and during the night we all four climbed back up to the plateau with new supplies of food. Although it stopped snowing on October 21, the winds became much stronger and temperatures dropped to -25° C. On the night of October 22 we made an acclimatization climb on the northeast ridge to 7000 meters, where strong winds stopped us. We rested in the snow cave until October 26. We set out at five A.M. and climbed 1200 meters to bivouac under an ice overhang in increasing winds. On the 27th we climbed from nine A.M. to five P.M., getting to the standard route at 7500 meters and continued on to 7600 meters, where we barely managed to pitch the tent. At four A.M. on October 28 the tent was torn to pieces. We waited in the open for dawn to be able to descend the northeast ridge, despite physically being able to ascend. The wind forced us down onto the plateau. On October 29 the winds did not diminish. We were running out of food and so were forced to descend to Base Camp. Some of us had frostbitten feet.

Stane Belak, Planinska Zweza Slovenije, Yugoslavia

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