Dhaulagiri's Base Camp
May 21, 2005
We have just made our last
attempt on Dhaulagiri, we can't do it anymore. Danger threatens each step and
the risk of avalanches, even above 7,000 m is very high. Modestly, of the ten
eight-thousands I have been to, I have never seen such adverse conditions as
in this mountain.
According to the weather
report, we had clear weather indeed during Wednesday 17, Thursday 18 and
Friday 19, but the amount of snow fallen in the two last weeks has been
extreme. A part of the trail between BC and C1, which we covered Wednesday
17, was swept completely by a layer avalanche, whose front had at least 300 m
of length. We could get to C1 in spite of that.
From C1 to C2, on the morning
of Thursday 18, we found a cemetery of debris of another layer that had broken
at 6,600 m. Nothing in the path we had covered in previous occasions was
standing. When we got to C2 (6,800 m) the surprise that awaited us was to
find our tent completely buried by another avalanche. It took us three hours
to recover part of the equipment we had left there and even so we insist with
the hope that the situation improved above 7,000 m; but in the early morning
of Friday 19 the deception was total. On the 7,700 m mark, the condition of
the snow was much worse than in inferior camps.
Having the alternative of
doing the trail under so much risk, we clearly saw that the hope to get to the
summit of Dhaulagiri was over for us. As if that wasn't enough, on the
morning of Thursday 18 while we climbed to C2, an avalanche of large
proportions in Annapurna (the mountain that was our next objective), left
three Italian climbers injured and killed the South Tyrol climber Christian
Kuntner, who was going for his fourteenth eight-thousand.
We leave Dhaulagiri. From
our part we have given all with enthusiasm, dedication and effort, but facing
these dangerous conditions, there is little or nothing we can do here, for
With the same optimism as
always, because I have it clear that those are the rules of this game, I send
a big hug from BC in Dhaulagiri.
I promise to write from
Katmandu, to share with you my reflections after this experience.
IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE
Translated from Spanish by