Now the cat is out of the bag. “We’re heading back to the mountains but not to Nanga Parbat as some may have thought,” writes David Göttler on Facebook on this New Year’s Day. “We have decided to go to Dhaulagiri here in Nepal.” His teammate Hervé Barmasse had previously stated that they wanted to attempt an eight-thousander this winter in alpine style – without bottled oxygen, without Sherpas, without fixed high camps. At which mountain, the 45-year-old Italian had left open.
David refers to his 2008 Dhaulagiri expedition together with Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. “It was one of the smoothest expeditions I’ve done: everything just went perfectly according to plan at every stage,” recalls the 44-year-old. “So, of course, I have really good memories of this mountain and am pretty motivated to go back and try something different there. I know that choosing to climb in winter and in alpine style adds a whole new level of complexity to an 8000m project – but in all honesty, I guess that’s sort of what we are looking for.” David left open the route he and Hervé plan to use to ascend to the summit at 8,167 meters.
Last winter, Göttler and Barmasse had tried in vain to climb the 8,125-meter-high Nanga Parbat in Pakistan in alpine style via the Rupal Face. They had not reached higher than 6,200 meters. Storms and heavy snowfall had made a further ascent impossible, so they had relatively quickly pulled the ripcord and abandoned the expedition.
Acclimatized in the Khumbu
Before Christmas, Göttler and Barmasse had acclimatized in the Khumbu, the Everest region, and then returned to Kathmandu for a stopover. In spring 2017, the German-Italian duo had climbed through the South Face of Shishapangma in Tibet, but had turned back five meters below the summit because of too much avalanche danger.
In spring 2022, Göttler had scaled Mount Everest on his third attempt without bottled oxygen – and also without Sherpa support. Except that David also used the ropes that a Sherpa team had fixed to secure the normal route for the commercial teams.