Himalaya Fall 2012 Update: Summit Bid Aborted On Dhaulagiri

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Late yesterday I mentioned that several teams had launched their summit bids on Dhaulagiri and that if everything went according to plan, they would summit in the next day or two. One of those teams was the SummitClimb squad, who had moved up to Camp 3 yesterday and intended to proceed on to C4 today. But it turns out conditions were not good and according to their latest update, which came via a Tweet, the team has elected to return to Camp 1. 

SummitClimb leader Dan Mazur sent out the following dispatch earlier today which gives us an idea of what is going on. The tweet simply read: “TEAM TURNS ROUND @0330HRS. UNSTABLE SNOW. EVERYONE OK. NOW HEADED DOWN TO CAMP 1.”

Obviously the climbers came across dangerous snows on their way up to Camp 4 this morning and decided that the best course of action was to play it safe and head back down the mountain. Considering the recent tragedy on Manaslu, that was a good idea, but now we’ll have to wait to see if they can get another crack at the summit. Weather forecasts indicate that the jet stream could be ready to make its semi-annual shift, which could put an end to all climbs sometime in the next few days.

There hasn’t been any news on whether 73-year old Carlos Soria and his team continued with their summit attempt, but Carlos knows these mountains well and respects how prone to avalanches they can be. My guess is that he wouldn’t head up to the top if he felt the risks were too high. (Update: ExWeb now reports that Soria descended as well due to high winds. He will wait to see if there is a nother chance at the summit.)

Meanwhile, over on Manaslu, the teams have now all returned safely to Base Camp and are waiting to depart back to Kathmandu. The climbers with the Altitude Junkies, including Edita Nichols, are all in the village of Sama Goan today, but bad weather has grounded the helicopters so there will be no ride out until tomorrow at the earliest.

The Mountain Professionals are also in BC, but they report in their latest dispatch that the descent back down the mountain was a hairy one. While they were up at the high camps, a number of large crevasses opened up between C1 and BC. That made for a challenging descent although they all returned safely as well. They plan to descend to Sama Goan tomorrow and fly back to Kathmandu on Friday.

Finally, while Billi Bierling awaits an second opportunity to summit Makalu, Outside magazine has posted a profile of the journalist/mountaineer. Much of what they write was taken from a post that Billi made to her blog a few days back, but it is an interest read about this well-connected climber who has topped out on some impressive Himalayan peaks in the past few years.

Most expeditions will be winding down in the next week or so, but there are still some opportunities for summits on various peaks in the region. If the weather holds out, expect another push in the next few days. 

Kraig Becker