Did we summit or not? Kinga (top) and Dodo (bottom) are the new kids in Himalaya, growing up fast. Image compiled by ExWeb, courtesy of the expedition website and Piotr Pustelnik (Kinga).
Image from a controversial 2005 Dhaula summit, provided by Serap Jangbu (click to enlarge).
View from a point "near the summit", according to Serap Jangbu's descriptions (click to enlarge).
Image of Nives Meroi, Romano Benet and Luca Vuerich courtesy of Nives Meroi. Nives and Romano returned to Dhaula and walked the entire ridge to make sure.
"Frederik doubted if we were on the summit or not. He tried to continue, but came back after a short while, skied down the hill, arrived successfuly to BC and left. That was the last we saw of him," reports Dodo. Image of Fredrik skiing on Laila Peak (6069m) in Pakistan. Photo: Jörgen Aamot (Click to enlarge)
Dhaulagiri summit? Kinga and Dodo, "we reached the pole on the ridge, Fredrik skied down from there"

Posted: Oct 17, 2007 05:46 pm EDT
(MountEverest.net) It's not the first time - climbers reach a point on a peak and are not sure if they are on the summit or not. Lots of hard work and money are invested in Himalayan climbs; a negative outcome of a top controversy means that people must find new funds and double their risk to repeat a feat they already accomplished.

On the other hand, while a mountain can be climbed again; spoiled honor is a hard thing to mend. The rules are clear - summit is the summit and nothing less. The latest Dhaulagiri climbers now have a tricky dilemma to solve. <cutoff>

<b>Dodo's debrief, "Sherpas said this is the summit, so so did the Korean"</b>

Here goes Dodo's report, in a phone call to his webmaster wife back home:

"Yesterday was very difficult for us. We came back in the evening, wet and tired. It was blowing hard, we had a lot of fresh snow, the visibility was bad. The way back from C1 took us a long time. We are all right, without frostbites."

"All in all, lots of snow made the ascent very hard. The Swede Fredrik Ericsson who wanted to ski down Dhaulagiri and a handless Korean guy (with two Sherpa-helpers) ascended together with us."

"We climbed on the summit ridge to the place where a pole was and where it seemed that there was nothing higher. I photographed the pole. Sherpas said this is the summit, so so did the Korean."

<b>"Fred skied down and that was the last we saw of him"</b>

"Fredrik doubted if we were on the summit or not. He tried to continue, but came back after a short while, skied down the hill, arrived successfully to BC and left. That was the last we saw of him."

"The two of us don't dare to say if we were on the summit or not. Our watch showed 8.076m but that's not really relevant. We have to clarify if it was the summit or not and then we'll let you know."

Dodo further reports that he and Kinga were supposed to leave BC today, but the porters never arrived due to excess snow in the French pass. They might leave by helicopter tomorrow instead, and in that case should be in Kathmandu within a few days.

<b>New kids in Himalaya</b>

Along with other young international climbers such as Aggei, Danielle, the Pustelnik brothers, Max and Vaso - Kinga and Dodo are the new kids in Himalaya, growing up fast.

35 hours of non-stop climbing and dangerous conditions at the Bottleneck forced Slovak Dodo Kopold back from 8000+ meters on K2 this summer. He returned home with a remarkable score - he had bagged three (his first) 8000er summits in one year: Cho Oyu, Shisha Pangma and Nanga Parbat.

Polish Kinga Baranowska summited Cho Oyu in 2003, became the second Polish female climber to reach the summit of Broad Peak last year and topped out Nanga Parbat this summer. The question is if they can add Dhaulagiri to their results.

<b>Previous Dhaula summit controversies</b>

It happened two years ago, but the controversy is still alive and kicking. Back on May 4 in 2005, a Korean team led by Jae Hong Ahn claimed to have summited Dhaulagiri. But other climbers, also on their summit bids, disagreed. Nives Meroi and Romano Benet were positive that the Koreans team footprints turned back at 8,000 meters, and that they found a pole in a place which, according to Iñaki Ochoa, was not the real summit.

However Serap Jangbu Sherpa, working with the Koreans back then, was equally positive about having reached the summit. Many other climbers followed the Koreans tracks the following day. Ecuadorian climber Ivan Vallejos team mentioned the issue on May 5, reporting on his own summit push together with climbers from Italy, Spain, and Austria. We reached 7,800m in a summit bid on Dhaulagiri, Ivan reported that day. The group was following the trail opened by a Korean team that supposedly had reached the summit one day earlier.

<b>Ivan Vallejo: The Korean teams trails were not leading to Dhaulagiris main summit</b>

The morning of our ascent was completely clear; we progressed with the shadow of Annapurna constant on our side," Ivan wrote. "10 a.m., at 7,800m, the international climbers realized that the Korean teams trails were not leading to Dhaulagiris main summit; the fact was that the Koreans had not reached the summit, the expedition home team reported.

"Then the international climbers had to retrace an entire section and traverse a long couloir to take the right direction in very unstable snow conditions. It had been snowing for the last eight days, and the risk of avalanches was thus very high. The climbers decided to return to BC, where Vallejo arrived at 8 p.m. after 10 hours descending."

<b>Nives and Romano footprints turned round at 8,000m</b>

Italians Nives Meroi and Romano Benet were there as well. "We followed the vague traces of the Koreans, until they stopped at 8,000 meters and then turned around (the footprints), they reported. But the crest continued, so we proceeded a hundred meters forward along the ridge of rock and snow, until a point (we though it was the top) where someone had planted a small aluminum pole."

"We took photos and some video, and hurried down. On our way down, we met with Iñaki Ochoa, who was on a non-stop summit attempt. We told him of our climb when he said: 'That's not the summit. The true summit is 30 meters higher up!'

"We were dumbfounded. A return was unthinkable. We decided to come down all together, wait for a new weather window, and head back up again: For the real summit, this time."

Bad weather thwarted all the summit attempts launched for the rest of the season. No one (else?) reached the summit that spring.

<b>Iñaki: Sherpas knew the mountain very well </b>

Iñaki mentioned the Korean team could have barely mistaken the real summit, since their Sherpas were highly experienced and, in Ochoas words, ace climbers."

Serap Jambu is one of the few men who have summited K2 twice, (not to mention multiple Everest summits), the Spaniard said. And Dawa is currently on his way to his 6th Dhaulagiri summit.

<b>Two outcomes</b>

But Serap Jangbu defended the Korean claims: We reached Dhaula summit on May 4, 2005," he told ExplorersWeb. "We had departed C3 at 1:30 a.m., and topped out at 5 p.m. On the top there were three of us Sherpa and one Korean climber. Among us was Dawa Sherpa, on his sixth Dhaulagiri summit so he must know the mountain pretty well."

"We put some prayer flags on the top, a Korean flag and a Khata (white scarf) with my name written on it. The controversy is seriously affecting me Im currently involved in the project to summit all 14, 8,000ers, Serap added. When asked, Nives Meroi however told ExplorersWeb she never saw any flag or scarf.

Five days after claiming the summit, Nepals Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation released the summit report, stating Im Bok Choi (20) reached the summit of Dhaulagiri I (8,167m) at 5 p.m. on May 4th, 2005. Also summiting were Dawa Sherpa, Serap Jangbu Sherpa and Pema Tshiring Sherpa.

Months afterward, the Koreans appeared as confirmed summiteers in Elizabeth Hawleys Himalayan database. Nives and Romano went back and climbed the mountain again, this time traversing the entire ridge to make sure to leave no doubt on their record.

Links to fall 2007 Dhaulagiri expeditions:

<b>Dhaulagiri</b>
<a href=" http://7thsummit.blogspot.com/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Dutch Dhaulagiri expedition blog</a> | <a href=" http://www.himalaya2007.expedition.sk/3/index_en.php " class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Kinga's and Dodo's expedition</a> | <a href=" http://www.fredrikericsson.com/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Fredrik Ericsson's website</a>| <a href=" http://www.trekkingdhaulagiri.com/index2.html" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Sagaste and Valencias tribute expedition (Spanish)</a> | <a href=" http://www.navarra8000.com/" class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Inaki Ochoa (Spanish)</a> | <a href=" http://www.kobler-partner.ch/ " class="linkstylenews" target="new"> Kari kobler expeditions (German)</a>

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