One has already gotten used to it. A spring season on the eight-thousanders of Nepal without Carlos Soria trying his hand on Dhaulagiri does not seem complete. In this one, too, the Spaniard will attempt – with bottled oxygen – the seventh-highest mountain on earth. At the age of 84, after 13 failed attempts. What is it that keeps drawing him to this mountain, which could actually be christened “Soriagiri” because of Carlos’ many unsuccessful attempts?
“8,167 meters, and a very beautiful view, and that it has rejected me many times, but I know I can climb it and I want to climb it and I’m going to try,” answers the still-fit senior in an interview with the Spanish portal desnivel.com. “Maybe this is the last chance I will have.”
He will be accompanied once again by his friend Sito Carcavilla. In spring 2022, they had climbed to Camp 3 at around 7,400 meters, but then turned back due to unfavorable weather forecasts. Once, in fall 2017, Carlos was almost at the top. At 8,050 meters, he had to turn around because he and his fellow climbers had lost their bearings in the summit area and had hit the wrong couloir. Carlos’ tireless attempts on Dhaulagiri are all the more amazing because he had an artificial knee joint fitted at the end of 2018. And by his own admission, he has a few other spots that hurt him from time to time, such as his spine or iliac crest. “I try to ignore the pain,” Soria says.
Ten eight-thousanders with over 60
Carlos didn’t just discover mountaineering for himself at a ripe old age. He was also part of the team on the first successful Spanish eight-thousander expedition in 1975 on Manaslu, from which Jeronimo Lopez and Gerardo Blazquez reached the highest point along with the Nepalese Sonam Wolang Sherpa. For his first eight-thousander summit, however, Sorira took another 15 years: at the age of 51, he climbed Nanga Parbat. This was followed by eleven more eight-thousander successes, ten of them aged over 60.
The former upholsterer, who lives in the small town of Moralzarzal near Madrid, holds the age records on K2 (65 years), Makalu (69, at that time he climbed without bottled oxygen), Gasherbrum I (70, also without breathing mask), Manaslu (71), Lhotse (72), Kangchenjunga (75) and on Annapurna (77). Besides Dhaulagiri, only Shishapangma is missing in his eight-thousander collection. In 2005, Carlos reached the Central Peak of the mountain in Tibet. With an altitude of 8,008 meters, this point is also beyond the eight-thousander mark, but it is just 19 meters lower than the Main Summit. In 2103 and 2014, Soria returned from Shishapangma empty-handed.
“I enjoy it”
On Dhaulagiri, he has already spent a total of almost two years of life. “I had a great time there. I don’t feel tired at all. I’ve been on many mountains and I’m still going. I want to climb Dhaulagiri. It’s a mountain where I’ve had many experiences, where I’ve been very close to the summit. And I want to try again.” Carlos Soria has been going to the mountains for 70 years. “Mountain climbing is a wonderful thing, and it’s a lot of fun. I go to enjoy it, and I enjoy it even when I have a bit of bad luck,” Carlos says. “I know what I’m getting into and what can happen. The mountain doesn’t adapt to you, you have to adapt to the mountain, to its conditions and to the weather.”