David Göttler and Hervé Barmasse have pulled the ripcord on the weekend and abandoned their winter expedition on the 8,167-meter-high Dhaulagiri in western Nepal. The reason was the bad weather forecast for the seventh highest mountain on earth until the end of the month, said Göttler in a video he posted on Instagram: “Very high winds all the way till the end of the month and significant snowfall which could be a real problem if we are in Base Camp and trapped there.” Still, the 44-year-old German said they had “a very good time” during their expedition: “We learned a lot. And I am more than ever convinced that it is possible to climb an eight-thousand-meter peak in alpine style in winter.”
Gale-force winds prevented ascent
After acclimatizing in the Khumbu, the region around Mount Everest, Göttler and Barmasse had themselves flown by helicopter from Kathmandu to base camp at the foot of Dhaulagiri. During a first reconnaissance ascent, they had climbed to 6,200 meters – in good conditions. After that, the weather had changed. Gale-force winds had prevented a new ascent. The constant storm is unlikely to change by the end of the month. Last year, the weather also threw a spanner in the works of the two climbers on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. There, they also had to abandon their attempt to climb an eight-thousander in winter in alpine style (without bottled oxygen, without Sherpa support, without fixed high camps and without fixed ropes).
A lot of garbage at base camp
Hervé Barmasse pointed out the pollution of the base camp at the foot of Dhaulagiri. “When we arrived at the base camp, we saw garbage and left equipment everywhere,” the 45-year-old Italian told the Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport: “Then you’re struck because no mountaineer ever talks about this dirt, and that makes it even more impressive, it’s not like our eyes are better than anyone else’s, and yet the garbage and dirt is there.”
The winter season on the eight-thousanders seems as good as over. After the summit success on Manaslu and now the abandonment of the Dhaulagiri expedition, the only question that remains is whether or not Gelje Sherpa will return to Cho Oyu if the weather improves. Because of the poor forecasts, he and his team had at least temporarily pitched off their tents on the Nepalese side of the 8188-meter-high mountain and returned to Kathmandu.
Update 24 January: Gelje Sherpa writes me that he is looking for a sponsor and a team to continue his winter climb on Cho Oyu. “Otherwise, the expedition will be over.”