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  Carlos Pauner 2008: Dhaulagiri 2008 with 2 new updates

Dhaulagiri, Thursday, April 3, 2008


I couldn't have said it better, we are trapped in the middle of nothing.  Above, a journey to get to base camp, by a very dangerous trail because of the large amount of snow that has fallen.  Below, the valley we left, covered with clouds and with bad weather.  Our porters have ran away after seeing the current conditions and the helicopter can't fly to take us with our loads to base camp, well above 1,000 meters up.  We couldn't make anything, not without waiting and see how the weather changes.  It was better yesterday, but this morning, sitting on these stones, waiting for the big iron bird to save us, our hope is fading.  While time passed by, larger clouds appeared and by lunch time the snow feel on our improvised camp.

Tomorrow we will repeat the ritual, we will unmount everything and we will wait for the weather to calm, just for a few hours, early.  Let's see if there is luck and if it is enough to reach our destination.  We need to get to base camp, mount our home, which is going to be home for a long time, rest and start a new chapter in this expedition.  All this makes us think that an expedition is a lot of things and always there is something bad with one of them and that disturbs our spirit.  We are going to be optimistic and we will hope for the best, that maybe we will soon enjoy the arrival to our destination, the end of our long trip to the most far away point from the civilization that we know of.

Carlos Pauner 

Translated form Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dhaulagiri, Sunday, April 06, 2008 


Such are things in the Himalayas.  When you think that, after so many expeditions nothing can surprise you, an event comes and it does in a hard way.  Our approach to base camp has not been, after all, what you could call easy.  It is true that right now, we are resting with all our equipment here at this place 4,700 m of altitude, in the such called Dhaulagiri Base Camp.  But to get here we have lived a very hard to imagine odyssey.  On Friday we were at 3,600 m of altitude, blocked by the snow and with no porters.  Aware of our poor situation, we had decided to call a helicopter to carry all our load to our final destination.  After a day of waiting, this Friday morning, although late, that monster Russian apparatus that cruises the skies of Nepal came.  It made two trips, fully loaded, to carry our colleagues of Al Filo (de lo Imposible, of Televisión Española), because they had been waiting for 5 days in this place and our turn came.  We loaded the rig with all our equipment and the bird attempted to take off.  Impossible.  The pilot said we had to leave 400 kg of weight there.  We opted to leave some kerosene and rice.  It was too hot at that time of the morning, sustentation was low, the chopper was heavy and it was not possible to control during landing.  I could not avoid goose bumps, to remember how 2 days ago, in this very same place, we crashed on the ground with a similar rig, although we miraculously saved our lives.  The pilot aborted the maneuver and turned with no doubt, to Pokhara, where we landed by noon.  Incredible.  We were with all our equipment, wearing our mountain clothes and with goofy faces, in this pretty town where our trekking had started one week ago.  The pilot said he was sorry, but he felt he could not land safely.  We were left for a while with no idea what to do, heated up because of the tropical temperature, watching how our things were unloaded.  We had changed from being in base camp to be back to the beginning.  I could not believe it.

Luckily, we made the right paperwork and on the next day, very early, we rented a new flight to base camp, where we arrived without trouble, although, I could not believe it until I stepped on the ground.  We are here now.  This troubled trip has ended and, although it snows endlessly and the weather is hellish, we are happy because we start the fundamental part of our expedition to Dhaulagiri.  We have lived days of incertitude, of edgy flights between cliffs and glaciers, of risk, of carrying loads from here to there, of desperation and uneasiness.  Luckily everything has passed.  We are safe in our little home and although we have not been able to mount it the way we want, we hope to see the sun and to get comfortable for our long stay on the mountain.  

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


Once again, our steps are in the direction of one of these great Nepal mountains.  Little by little we are gaining altitude by these green valleys, filled with vegetation and humidity.  We are on our way to Dhaulagiri (8,167 m.), a big mountain that rejected me in 2006.  That time, luck, so needed in these expeditions, was scarce and we had to quit to our dreams very close to the summit.  Time has passed by, there have been other summits and again, the turn has come for this white mountain of the Himalayas.  We left from Pokhara a few days ago, Javier, Marta and myself, towards Beni, over a wrecked road.  From there we started to walk and today, after walking for three days, we are now at 3,000 m. of altitude.  We have walked over this large valley, in parts very similar to others.  We are 2 days away from our base camp, which will be located at 4,700 m. of altitude and the news that come from above, as usual, are bad.  There is a lot of snow and porters can't reach our base camp.  Tomorrow we will go up to 3,500 m. to the Italian camp, where other groups are waiting with their porters for the weather to improve.  So far it doesn't look likely.  It rains every day and at this altitude, that means snow.  It looks like the only solution is for everybody to go by helicopter up to base camp, which is not very funny for us.  On one hand because of the cost and on the other because of the risk involved.  I still get goose bumps when I remember the accident we had while we were leaving this same base camp in 2006.  Luck smiled at us that time and we were miraculously alive and safe, after hitting the ground while taking off from our base camp.  We will see tomorrow and if there is no choice, the risk would have to be taken, like many others we had taken on our backs.  Anyway, this is not good.  If the snow doesn't let us reach base camp, it is not difficult to imagine how much snow is loaded on the mountain.  Anyway, let us wait.  There is still a long way to go and we have just begun.  Let's trust everything goes nice in this expedition we are starting. 

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera





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