Dhaulagiri Ski Expedition 2007: Entry 2

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September 6, 2007

Dhaulagiri is, at the altitude of 8167 meters, the 7th highest mountain in the world, one of only fourteen mountains higher than 8000-meters. In the end of August, Fredrik Ericsson is going to Nepal to try to make the first ever ski descent of the mountain.

Dhaulagiri is located in the Dhaulagiri Himal in the north central of Nepal, not far from another 8000er, Annapurna. The name comes from Dhavali giri which is Sanskrit and means White Mountain. When the westerners discovered the mountain in 1808 they believed it to be the highest mountain in the world. Dhaulagiri kept the top spot for 30 years until they found Kangchenjunga that is 400 meters higher. Dhaulagiri was first climbed on May 13 1960 by Kurt Diemberger, Peter Diener, Ernst Forrer, Albin Schelbert, Nyima Dorji and Nawang Dorji as members of a Swiss/Austrian expedition. They climbed the Northeast Ridge.

Fredrik travels to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, on the 29th of August. After a few days in the city he continues on to Pokhara and finally Jomsom. That's where the approach starts. Normally it's a three-four day trek. The trail goes over two high passes, Damphus at 5182meters and French Col at 5334meters before he will reach the Dhaulagiri base camp at 4700 meters.

The Base Camp will be Fredrik's home for a month while he's climbing the mountain. Fredrik will climb the Northeast Ridge and on his way to the summit he will use three camps: at 5700, 6800 and 7400 meters. He will climb on his own, without bottled oxygen and help from Sherpas (porters). If everything goes as planned Fredrik will attempt the summit some time in the end of September. If he reaches the top he will click into his skis and try to descend the steep and exposed slopes of Dhaulagiri.

Eight-Thousand-Meter Peaks

There are only 14 peaks in the world higher than 8000 meters and all of them are in the Himalaya or Karakoram mountain ranges. To reach the summit on these mountains one has to climb in the so-called "Death Zone.

At the altitude of 8000 meters the air pressure is about a third compared to sea level. That means that the body doesn't get enough oxygen to function and starts to deteriorate, therefore the name "Death Zone. On June 3, 1950 French climbers Louis Lachenal and Maurice Herzog made the groundbreaking ascent of the first 8000er when they reached the summit of Annapurna (8091 meters). In the following 14 years all the 8000ers was conquered. In 1986 Reinhold Messner became the first man to have climbed all 14 peaks.

These are the peaks, in order of altitude: Mount Everest (8848 m), K2 (8612m), Kangchenjunga (8586m), Lhotse (8501m), Makalu (8462m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Dhaulagiri (8167m), Manaslu (8156m), Nanga Parbat (8125m), Annapurna (8091m), Gasherbrum (8068m), Broad Peak (8047m), Gasherbrum 2 (8035m) and Shisha Pangma (8013m)

Follow Fredrik's adventure through his blog


Kris Erickson, Jamie Laidlaw, and Kip Garre in Kathmandu.

The Wild West of the East: A Ski Expedition to Nepal

For decades, far-western Nepal has been ski-mountaineering’s version of outer space—a collection of 20,000-foot-plus Himalayan peaks begging for company, but no safe and easy way to get there. Contributing writer Devon O'Neil ventured to Nepal in September along with a team of North-Face sponsored ski mountaineers to see if they could change that. Follow his adventures here.