Two days after the first summit success of the spring season on the eight-thousanders of Nepal, the first death is reported from the same mountain. Antonis Sykaris, the most successful high-altitude climber in Greece to date, died while descending from the summit of Dhaulagiri at an altitude of 7,400 meters, near Camp 3, “after a huge physical and mental effort and a lack of supplemental oxygen,” the 59-year-old’s Facebook page reads.
On Monday, Nepali expedition operator Seven Summit Treks (SST) had reported that Sykaris and his companion Dawa Sherpa had reached the summit at 8,167 meters. Dawa Sherpa, who remained with Antonis until the Greek’s death, is apparently waiting for support at Camp 3. According to SST, a rescue operation has been started.
Dhaulagiri, in western Nepal, was the sixth eight-thousander Sykaris had summited – after Mount Everest (in 2017), Kangchendzönga and Manaslu (both in 2018), Lhotse (in 2019) and Annapurna (in 2021). In all ascents, Antonis had used bottled oxygen.
In winter 2021, the Greek had unsuccessfully attempted K2 in Pakistan, the second highest mountain on earth. On Dhaulagiri he was already for the fourth time – after three failed attempts in 1998, 2019 and 2021.
“Sometimes it also takes luck”
At the beginning of his expedition, Antonis had written on Facebook that he was often asked if he was not afraid of losing his life on these very high mountains. “Most of all I hope that nothing bad will happen to me,” Sykaris replied. “I do not expect to reach the summit, I just hope, that alone makes a big difference. Because a failed expectation can lead you into disastrous situations, while a disappointed hope hurts much less.” After all, he said, you can try again. “But I have to be completely honest with all of you,” Antonis continued. “It’s all good, but sometimes it also takes luck!” On Dhaulagiri, his quantum of luck had apparently run out.