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DHAULAGIRI "Killer Mountains" - an ExplorersWeb series
11:56 a.m. EDT Sep 30, 2003
In ExplorersWeb's new series, we investigate messages hidden in unique statistics compiled by AdventureStats. We look at fatality rates for the 14 8000+ mountains. We started with the dreaded Karakorum/Pakistan giants and will now take a look at the Himalayan peaks. But we are not stopping there. We compare modern and old fatality statistics, trying to determine the effects of the arrival of commercial expeditions in 1990s. AdventureStats is providing the research and later, will also look into the causes of deaths.

Today, Everest has hosted close to 2,000 successful summits. 179 people have perished giving a fatality rate of 9.3% (fatality rate is defined as successful summits compared to fatalities). However, since 1990 there has been an explosion of summiteers and fatality statistics have changed. Up to 1990 the Everest fatality rate is a whopping 37%, yet from 1990 until today the rate has dropped to 4.4%. So how does that compare to the rest of the 8000+ peaks? Let's check it out.

Next up is Dhaulagiri (8167 m)

As any climber who has attempted Dhaulagiri can attest, this is one tough mountain to climb.
Though several attempts were made on Dhaulagiri in the 1950s, the peak was the second to last of the 8,000m peaks to be summited (Shisha Pangma was last, in 1964.). On May 13, 1960, a Swiss led expedition whose summiteers included Kurt Diemberger (A), Peter Diener, Ernst Forrer, Albin Schelbert, Nawang Dorje (Nep) and Nima Dorje (Nep) stood on the summit for the first time, climbing via the Northeast side. Deimberger was also in the party that made the first ascent of Broad Peak in 1957. The Swiss Dhaulagiri expedition was initially supported by an airplane (which set a world record for the highest landing of a fixed wing aircraft at 5,750m) but a landing accident on May 5, 1960 at 5200m forced the team to abandon the airplane support.

To date, 313 climbers have summited Dhaulagiri and 56 have died. The overall fatality rate is thus 18%, double that of Everest’s overall 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 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 fatality rate of 4.4%.

Whilst the old Everest risk was 37% and Dhaulagiri’s was 31%, over the last decade, both rates (summit-fatality) have lessened with Everest’s now at 4.4% and Dhaulagiri’s at 11%. In a later follow up, we will look at the causes.

At 8,167m, Dhaulagiri is number 7 on the list of the fourteen 8,000m peaks. It is the highest peak located entirely in Nepal in a spectacular massif that many consider to be the most exceptional in Nepal. Through a maze of glaciers, icefalls and ridges, four summits rise from the main crest above 25,000 ft.

With more than 110 peaks that rise over 7,000m, the Himalayan mountain range is the longest, highest mountain range on earth and home to ten of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest. It extends over 1,500 miles long and 250 miles wide as it passes through Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and India.

This season’s summits on Dhaulagiri included Amical Alpin Dhaulagiri I Expedition 2003 members Jochen Kurt Haase, Dieter Albin Porsche, Christoph V. Preysing, Jean Christophe Lafaille and Pemba Rinjee Sherpa; Olaf Zill of the Saxony Dhaulagiri I Expedition 2003; and Fredrik Strang of the Swedish Dhaulagiri Expedition. Lafaille then went on to climb to the top of Nanga Parbat and Broad Peak. There were no fatalities.

With an overall fatality rate of 18% and modern fatality rate decreased to 11%, Dhaulagiri is statistically more dangerous than Everest today.

Previous Articles - Killer Mountain Series
Nanga Parbat
Broad Peak

Image of Dhaulagiri courtesy of gnaromondinelli.it

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