Dhaulagiri I, Southwest Pillar, Attempt

Nepal, Dhaulagiri Himal
Author: Rodolphe Popier. Climb Year: 2015. Publication Year: 2016.

The southwest ridge of Dhaulagiri (8,167m) descends 3km from the summit to a point where it divides into the south-southwest ridge and southwest pillar. The south-southwest ridge and southwest ridge were climbed in 1978 by Japanese, while the steep southwest pillar was attempted twice by French teams, in 1978 and 1980. On the latter attempt the climbers reached ca 7,500m, at the top of the steep pillar and at the junction with the southwest ridge, but did not continue to the summit—the technical difficulties below had prevented loads from being carried for a summit push. It was left to Zoltan Demjan (Czech) and Yuri Moiseev and Kasbek Valiev (Kazakhstan) to complete the route in 1988, in a magnificant alpine-style ascent (16 days round-trip from base camp) with climbing up to UIAA VI+ A2 on the 450m crux section above 7,000m. Immediately prior to the expedition, these three had been climbing 7,000m peaks in the Tien Shan. 

In October, Yannick Graziani and Patrick Wagnon (France) attempted to repeat the route, also in alpine style. They didn't follow the ridge from its base, but climbed a variation start via a couloir on the south flank to reach the crest at 5,900m (mainly 50° with sections of 70–80°). From here they fixed ca 350m of rope on the next section of pillar (V) and installed a bivouac at 6,100m. Further bivouacs were made at 6,600m and 6,900m before the pair attempted to outflank the steep upper pillar on the west side, to that point having overcome terrain “comparable with the north face of the Eiger.” They were hit by a storm at 7,100m, and after a difficult bivouac at 7,050m managed to make an equally difficult retreat. Wagnon was full of praise for the exceptional performance of the 1988 trio.

Rodolphe Popier, France

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