Probably no other climber on the eight-thousanders in Nepal this spring has as many people crossing their fingers as the Spanish senior Carlos Soria. And just as many are likely to be a bit disappointed again today: “After seeing the weather forecasts, Carlos Soria and Sito Carcavilla decided to descend to base camp and wait for a more favorable opportunity,” Carlos’ team let it be known via Twitter. Snowfall is expected for the next few days on Dhaulagiri in western Nepal.
The climber, now 83, his Spanish teammate Sito Carcavilla and their six-member Sherpa team had ascended to Camp 3 at around 7,400 meters. One stage was still missing to the summit at 8,167 meters.
This is Soria’s 13th time on the seventh-highest mountain on earth, which he plans to climb using bottled oxygen. Once, in fall 2017, Carlos was almost at the top. At 8,050 meters, he had to turn back because he and his fellow climbers had lost their bearings in the summit zone and had chosen 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.
Ten eight-thousanders with over 60
Soria, by the way, 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. For his first eight-thousander summit, however, Carlos 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.
“Waiting for the best moment”
“What I’m most proud of is that I haven’t had any accidents, no frostbite,” Carlos told Spanish Internet portal desnivel.com before leaving for Nepal. “To me it seems like a failure to die on the mountain.”
On Dhaulagiri, he has already spent a total of more than a year and a half of life. “It’s a little bit bitchy because it didn’t let me come up, but we’re good friends.” the Spaniard says of the mountain, which could actually be christened “Soriagiri” because of his many attempts.
Carlos has by no means given up for this spring. Soria and Carcavilla are perfectly acclimatized and must “only wait patiently for the best moment to reach the summit of Dhaulagiri,” his team announces.