The weather is
good and time flies by here in Nepal. Life in base camp (BC) is simple and
easy going, mostly focused on food. After three days in BC I went up and had
my first taste of Dhaulagiri, The White Mountain.
Since I arrived in BC the weather has been very nice and stable, lots of
sunshine and not much wind. To climb an 8000-meter peak you need to spend a
lot of time getting used to the altitude, acclimating as itís called. When I
had my tent, our toilet tent and all my gear sorted out I was ready to check
out the mountain and start acclimating.
The mountains here in Nepal are sacred and the Buddhist people believe that
the godís live in the mountains. Therefore, before you begin climbing you have
to do a ceremony that is called Puja to show your respect to the Godís. The
Nepalese people here in BC built a Chorten (Buddhist monument) out of rocks
and attached to it was prayer flags in four directions. On top of the Chorten
was a photo of The Dalai Lama and offerings like rice, cookies, chocolate bars
etc. The ceremony was held by Buddhist monk who was singing and saying prayers
as we threw rice towards the Chorten. After the Puja you have permission from
the godís to set your foot on their mountain and you have their support during
Summer has been
hard on Dhaulagiri. Itís very dry on the lower slopes and the snow level is
around 5500 meters. The first part of the climb is a cracked up glacier that
is called the icefall. The Seracís (ice pillars) in the icefall are regularly
falling and making a brumming noise giving us climbers something to fear. You
donít want to be anywhere near the Serac falls therefore the climbing route
goes on the right hand side of the ice fall, on the lower parts of a big rock
wall. Without snow on this part itís a mix of sand, rocks, and ice. Horrible,
if you ask me. After that you walk on a flat glacier for a bit until it gets
steeper up to the northeast pass of Dhaulagiri where youíll find camp 1 (C1),
at around 5700 meters. Apart from the sandbox in the beginning the terrain is
fairly easy with only a few hairy crevasses (cracks in the glacier) to cross.
My first time on the mountain was a long struggle to get up to C1, where I
spent the night. It took me six and a half hours to climb the 1000 verticl
meters up to camp and during the night I didnít sleep much due to an evil
headache. That didnít give me much confidence for the future. The next day I
went back down to base camp.
Everyday life in
base camp is simple but comfortable. I have my own tent where I sleep and keep
my clothing and gear. In our kitchen tent chef Budhi and his assistant Kansha
are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Itís like having my mom
here in camp. All I have to do is to show up to get an excellent meal. Other
than that there is time to read books, listen to music and cruise around
visiting the other climbers.
The climbers that are here this year to climb Dhaulagiri are a big Japanese
team with about thirteen climbers, including six Climbing Sherpaís (Nepalese
porters), a Dutch-Austrian team with four climbers and one Korean climber with
his two climbing Sherpaís. In the last few days a French team and a Polish
team has arrived as well. Itís a good mix people and weĎre having a good
The Japanese team has hired Sherpaís to fix ropes on the mountain making the
climbing safer and easier. The ropes are fixed along almost the whole climbing
route. I heard a figure of 2800 meters of rope only up to camp 1. Personally,
I think it takes away some of the exploratory experience you get from climbing
a mountain. It has one positive thing though, if you follow the ropes you will
never get lost.
The second time on the mountain I slept one night in C1 before I climbed up a
gentle snow slope towards the northeast ridge. On the ridge it got steeper and
there were a few crevasses to cross on the way to C2 at 6500 meters. After
having dinner with a view of an amazing sunset on the Annapurna Mountains I
tucked myself down in to my thick sleeping bag to get some rest. My sleep that
night was disrupted by yet another evil headache. During the days I feel fine
but during the nights the nasty ďhigh altitude manĒ is giving me a few punches
in the head. To get the most out of this acclimating trip I climbed up the
ridge to about 6900 meters before turning around and heading back down to C2.
I spent a second night in C2 feeling a bit better and the next day I skied
down to C1. It started with cautious turns in powder on the steep ridge and
went big cruising turns in sugar snow on the slopes down towards C1. It was an
amazing experience to ski on the slopes of Dhaulagiri with mountains like
Annapurna and Nilgiri in the background. Felt good to finally get some skiing
after some weeks of transportation.
Now Iím back in base camp and I will stay here for three to four days to rest
before I go up again. Iím feeling well acclimated so next time I will aim for
the summit. If everything goes as planned, the weather is good and Iím in good
shape, I will summit Dhaulagiri at the end of the month. Looking forward to
Fredrikís partners: Dynastar, Osprey, Adidas Eyewear.
Supporters: Grivel, Giro, Ortovox, Dynafit, Therm-Ic, Himaya, Duracell,
Loben Expeditions and Jšmtport.
Earlier: 8751 Ė Nilgiri,
just another mountain on the Dhaulagiri trek.
spectacular flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and a short walk to Marpha my two
companions Budhi and Kansha and I started the three days trek towards
Dhaulagiri Base Camp. Leaving Marpha at 2670 meters we headed up the trail on
steep grassy slopes gaining altitude quickly. According to Budhi, that has
done this trek a couple of times before, our camp for the night was supposed
to be at 3600 meters and it would take about 3-4 hours to get there. That
sounded good to me. I didnít want to go too far since Iíve been battling a
flew for the last few days and didnít feel very strong. After about three and
a half hours we came up to a couple of stone houses on a nice grass field. It
reminded me of the sheep herder huts in the Alps. That was a perfect camp site
I thought but Budhi had something else in mind. -Itís time for lunch, he said.
We sat down and took out our lunch package that we had brought. It was made up
of Chapatti with a sliced boiled egg on top, a package of crackers and a
chocolate bar. As we dug into our food Budhi pointed to the top of the hill
that was at least 500 vertical meters higher up and said: -Thatís camp. We
didnít go all the way to the top but set camp about halfway, which I was happy
for. Budhiís brother Kansha that is carrying a huge and heavy wooden basket,
full of kitchen stuff, strapped on top of his head, also looked happy that was
the end of the day. Alongside us on the trek we had around 30 donkeys carrying
gear for us and other expeditions going to Dhaulagiri. They do a good job with
the loads but they also do a good job spreading their dung. They go as they
like and that might be on the 50 cm wide trail or all over our camp sites.
Second day of the trek was a feast in beautiful views. The higher we got the
more spectacular the surrounding mountains became. We had Nilgiri, on the
other side of the valley, behind us and after about an hour of uphill the
stunning view of Tukuche Peak and Dhaulagiri came into sight on our left hand
side. The more than 1000 meters higher Dhaulagiri looked disappointingly small
compared to the much closer located Tukuche from that angle. Going around the
northern side of Tukuche Peak we lost sight of Dhaulagiri but saw the sun set
behind its brother peak Dhaulagiri 3 as we pitched our tents in camp. During
that day we walked for eight hours, climbed over the 5250 meter high Dhampus
pass and gained more than a thousand vertical meters. At that altitude itís a
quite long day but the only worry I had was at what shutter speed I would set
the camera to get good photos. And I guess watching out where I put my feet so
I didnít step into donkey dung. I wonder if Budhi and Kansha were enjoying the
view as much as I was or if itís just another day at work for them. They sure
smiled as much as I did.
Unfortunately we didnít reach our camp in the Hidden Valley before the donkeys
had spread their shit all over the place. During the night I got a headache
that was growing heavier and heavier leaving me with only a few hours of
sleep. Iím definitely blaming the donkeys for my headache and not that I had
ascended too fast to 5000 meters.
The final day of the trek was a four hour walk on rocky and uneven moraine
with the high point of The French Pass at 5360 meters. My headache from the
night before slowly disappeared with my growing excitement as we closed in on
our final destination, The Dhaulagiri Base Camp.
I have now settled down in our camp at 4780 meters. I have built a nice
platform for my tent that is going to be my home for the next month, taken my
first shower in five days and Iím enjoying Budhiís excellent food. All is good
and Iím eager to head up the mountain.
Fredrikís partners: Dynastar, Osprey, Adidas Eyewear.
Supporters: Grivel, Giro, Ortovox, Dynafit, Therm-Ic, Himaya, Duracell, Loben
Expeditions and Jšmtport.
8729 Ė Kansha with his basket full of kitchen stuff
8767 Ė Fredrik with Dhaulagiri and Tukuche peak in the background.
Photos: Fredrik Ericsson
On the road, again!
After a week in Kathmandu
things have finally started moving here. With a smile on my face Iím on
my way to the mountains.
It all changed last Friday after a few days of grumpy me. I was close to
exploding of anger believing that the airline had lost my skis and climbing
gear. I had started working on plan B: finding gear in Kathmandu, so
that this wouldnít be the end of the trip. Most of the climbing gear and
clothing was possible to gather from friends and shops. Skis were more
difficult, at least there was nothing from the 21st Century to be found.
I asked myself, is it safe to go to Dhaulagiri with the gear that Iíve
found here? I didnít have to answer that question. Friday morning I went on
one of our routine trips to the airport to look for the ski bag. The man
at the lost baggage desk, that I was sure couldnĎt say anything else than ďBag
not foundĒ, said something different this time. Bag is here! I didnít
believe him first until I saw a man dragging my ski bag towards us. All my
gear was right in front of me after a weeks detour. In a second I was a
changed man, all the anger was gone and I couldnít stop smiling.
Having sorted out the gear problem I got on the bus for the six hours
ride to Pokhara where I was met by a massive rain. I guess the monsoon
is not quite over yet. Walking back to my hotel from a restaurant in the
evening was like walking in a shallow creek. It was water all over the place.
I had one day of sightseeing in Pokhara and went on a boat ride on the
Fewa lake, visited the Peace Stupa and the Deviís waterfall.
Sunday morning I got up early and went to the airport to catch the
flight to Jomsom. Ghorka Air took me along for a mind blowing experience.
As the small propeller plane rose through the clouds we were in the
middle of an anfi-theatre of beautiful peaks. The Machhapuchhare, also
called the fish tail mountain, the four Annapurnaís and Nilgiri to
mention a few. Last but not least I got the first glimpse of Dhaulagiri.
That was a great feeling.
In Jomsom Budhi, that will be my cook in base camp, and his brother was
waiting for me. Theyíve been trekking in three days from a town
called Beni with the food, gas canisters and all the rest of the gear that
couldnít be taken on the plane. As soon as I got my bags we left Jomsom
and walked the one and half hours down the valley to a town called
Marpha and the Snow Leopard Lodge were we were going to spend the night.
Monday the trek towards base camp will start. Itís a serious trek
going over two passes (Dhampus and French pass) that are higher than 5000
meters. If everything goes as planned we will reach Dhaulagiri base camp
(4700m) on Wednesday.
Captions: 8658 Ė First view of Dhaulagiri through the window of the plane.
Photos: Fredrik Ericsson
2007-09-04: Missed flight and
a lost bag!
Finally the trip has started. Iím on my way to Dhaulagiri, the 8167 meter high
mountain in Nepal to climb and ski. I must admit that the trip could have
started better. I left Chamonix last Wednesday and flew from Geneva in
Switzerland to Doha in Qatar. That part went smoothly. I was in time, the
flight was on time and I didnít have to pay for any excess weight for my big
and heavy ski bag with all my ski and climbing gear.
In Qatar my luck changed. I had three hours until my flight for Kathmandu was
leaving. That was plenty of time I thought so I strolled around the airport,
checked the internet and listened to a book on my mp3 player. Not at all
thinking of the one hour time difference between Europe and Qatar I arrived at
the gate when the plane had already left. Fortunately for me they let me
rebook on the next flight without charge. Not so fortunate, the next flight to
Kathmandu was 24 hours later. By now I know the Doha airport quite well. I do
not recommend the restaurants.
Friday morning I arrived in Kathmandu and after a bit of queuing to get visa I
walked over to the baggage belt to pick up my bags. My duffel bag was there,
but my ski bag was nowhere to be found. In that bag I have my skis, poles,
crampons, ice axes and down clothing: the gear that I need to be able to go up
in the mountains. Without it I might as well take a flight to a beach resort
and go swimming.
After filing a report for my lost bag and checking in at the hotel my Nepalese
friend Loben took me sightseeing in Kathmandu. We visited the touristy
shopping quarters of Thamel, Bouddhanath, the sacred Buddhist stupa and the
Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. Kathmandu is a big city with millions of people
and it seems that everyone has a car or a motorcycle. It also seems that they
have a competition where the one that honks the horn the most wins. Even
though the city is a bit too stressful for me, it offers a lot to see and if
you get out of the tourist traps the people are very friendly.
I first met Loben in 2004 when I was in Tibet to climb and ski my first
8000-meter peak, Shisha Pangma. Loben runs a company called Loben Expeditions
that is organizing anything from short treks to big
expeditions all over the Himalayas. If youíre interested in a great experience
in the mountains of Nepal, Tibet or India you should talk to Loben. On my
Shisha Pangma Expedition as well as my ongoing Dhaulagiri Expedition Loben has
made all the arrangements with climbing and trekking permits, base camp staff
and all logistics in Nepal.
Hanging out with Loben and
his friends Iíve found out that a Nepalese guy is competing in the TV show
ďIndiaís IdolĒ. Heís one of only three remaining so itís getting big here in
Nepal. What can be better evening entertainment than watching Indiaís Idol? I
guess if I could understand what they are saying.
I take full credit for missing the flight, but the lost bag; I must give
that to Qatar Airways. They have put in a great effort to lose a big ski bag.
Now it has been four days since I arrived in Nepal and still no news about my
ski bag. Until I get my gear Iím stuck here in Kathmandu and I can only hope
that the bag arrives soon. Fredrik
Photos: Fredrik Ericsson
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