American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Dhaulagiri Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993

Dhaulagiri Tragedy. Two Romanian women, Mrs. Taina Coliban and Mrs. Sandita Isaila disappeared on the normal northeast-ridge route of Dhaulagiri. Mrs. Caliban was 48 years old and Mrs. Isaila 42. Perhaps because of their age, they were extremely slow climbers. They had few other climbers on their team and attempted to reach their towering summit without companions, without artificial oxygen, without a means of communication to Base Camp and with a minimum of climbing gear. Mrs. Coliban had climbed in Nepal once, seven years ago, during a brief attempt on Dhaulagiri, and both women had successfully scaled 6995-meter (22,950-foot) Khan Tengri in the Tien Shan. They had not intended to climb alone but had hoped to add themselves to someone else’s expedition to an 8000er. Unable to do so, they took a permit for Dhaulagiri, put the names of Wanda Rutkiewicz and the young Pole who was with her on Kangchenjunga on their membership list and added a Chilean, who started with them but was able to climb only a short distance above Base Camp before becoming ill and left Base Camp before they were reported missing. Since their equipment was not of the best, their Sherpa Kazi thinks that perhaps inadequate tent pegs could not hold their small tent securely while they were in it and it may have blown off the ridge. The two women were last seen at midday on May 11. Kazi had been helping them carry supplies to the base of the climb. He was asked to stay at Base Camp while they went as quickly as possible for the summit and to watch them from there with binoculars. The mornings were clear but it clouded and snowed in the afternoons. On May 11, he saw them on a snow ridge at 6500 meters, climbing toward their intended campsite at 7000 meters. The site was visible from Base Camp but Kazi never saw their tent there. He scanned the ridge day after day but never saw any sign of them. There was a big snowstorm on May 23. He finally struck camp on May 29, taking their personal belongings to Kathmandu but leaving food and fuel in case they miraculously got back down to Base.

Elizabeth Hawley

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