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Argentinas triumph on Dhaulagiri at last
image story

May 14, 2004 18: 36 EST
Esp.MountEverest.net just brought great news: "At last, this morning, the Argentinean-Spanish expedition reached the summit of Dhaulagiri (8167m). The summiteers are Argentinean Víctor Hugo Aryan Herrera and Catalán Xavier Arias. They had very hard wind, low visibility and cold. The climbers began their ascent yesterday from Camp 3 at 7,400 meters, in unstable weather. Other climbers in the team turned back earlier due to the bad weather conditions."

The team told ExWeb earlier: “The conditions at the time are unstable, at noon storms roll in bringing with them low temperatures. The mountain has changed; it is different from the photos taken in the last years.”

The expedition had a very special mission:

“We go after the dream of our predecessors, following their steps, of which they cleared the way. We march forward hoisting our flag and proclaiming our motto: All Argentineans Under the Same Sun."

A war cry for sure, honoring the first Argentinean expedition to attempt Dhaulagiri in 1954, and significantly Fernando Grajales, a member of that 1954 expedition. Fernando passed away just last week at the age of 79. He should be smiling up there right now. The expedition leader also said:

"Frequently the mountain climber looks for freedom and wishes to go beyond the mere sensation of climbing near the sky. We yearn to expand the spirit. And one is pushed by the adventure and the obsession to discover and to explore."

The Argentinean Expedition members are Damián Redmond, Víctor Herrera, Miguel Lofti and Horacio Cunietti, Fabian Iribas, and Alfredo E Magnani (Honorary head of expedition).

Dhaulagiri, The White Mountain, may not be the deadly Annapurna or the big E, but it still holds its own in the Himalayas. For 30 years it was once considered the tallest mountain on earth and it once took the lives of 1 out of every 3 climbers to reach its summit.

Though the 1954 expedition did not reach the summit, their achievements were not matched for another 6 years. In 1960, the Swiss/Austrian expedition who first reached the summit did so despite their airplane having crashed during the approach.

Fernando Grajales, a member of the expedition of 1954 and one of the pioneers in the most important field of adventure in Argentina, passed away last month at the age of 79 (check separate story on esp.MountEverest.net).

To date, 315 climbers have summited Dhaulagiri and 56 have died. The summit/fatality rate is thus 18%, double that of Everest’s summit/ fatality rate of 9%. A comparison of recent statistics, however, shows that Dhaulagiri’s rate has diminished dramatically over the last decade. Up until 1990, the Dhaulagiri summit/fatality rate was 31%. But from 1990 until today, there have been 22 climbers who died, and 203 summiteers. Thus the rate diminished to 11% – still more than double the modern Everest summit/fatality rate of 4.4%.

US based Patagonia Mountain agency also planned a Dhaulagiri expedition this spring but the trip is yet unconfirmed. So is the Slovenian team from the official permit list, taking the North East Ridge and led by Andrej Stremfelj.

Image of the team at the foot of Dhaulagiri, by Marcelo Alvarez, courtesy of Clarín.com.

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