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Dhaulagiri: Korean summits?
image story

May 10, 2005 17: 28 EST
Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has just published a press release reporting that one Korean climber and three high altitude Sherpas have reached the summit of Dhaulagiri. However, the official press release contradicts previous reports from the international team members also on the spot.

One Korean and three sherpas

According to the official release, Korean climber Im Bok Choi (20) reached the summit of Dhaulagiri I (8167m) at 5:00 p.m. on May 4th, 2005. Also summiting were Dowa Sherpa, Serap Jongbu Sherpa and Pema Tshiring Sherpa.

The climbers were part of the 8-member 2005 Korean Dhaulagiri Peak Expedition Team, led by Jae Hong Ahn.

Meanwhile, members from an international team also climbing Dhaulagiri this season reported that the Korean team had not reached the summit.

Good Visibility conditions

Ecuadorian climber Ivan Vallejo reported yesterday on their own summit attempt on May, 5th:

“On Thursday the 5th of May, Ivan Vallejo along with his team mates from Italy, Spain, and Austria, reached 7800m in a summit bid on Dhaulagiri. The group was following the trail opened by a Korean team that supposedly had reached the summit one day earlier.”

“The morning of our ascent was completely clear; we progressed with the shadow of Annapurna always at our side. Temperatures ranged between -15ºC and -19ºC, with no wind.”

“The Koreans had not reached the summit”

“At 10:00 am, at 7800m, the international climbers realized that the Korean team’s trails were not leading to Dhaulagiri’s main summit; the fact was that the Koreans had not reached the summit. The international climbers had to retrace an entire section and traverse a long couloir to take the right direction on very unstable snow conditions. It had been snowing during the previous eight days, and the risk of avalanches was thus very high. The climbers decided to return to BC, where Vallejo arrived at 8:00 pm after 10 hours descending.”

Nives Meroi also reported on a failed summit bid:

Iñaki Told us the true summit was 30 meters higher up

"We followed the vague traces of the Koreans, when finally they stopped - but the crest continued... We continued a hundred meters, along the crest of rock and snow, until the top, where someone had planted a small aluminum pole."

"We took the photos, and some video, and hurried down. On our way down, we met with Inaki Ochoa, who tried another attempt - non-stop. 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."

Sherpas know the place well

The Sherpas climbing with the Korean team were highly experienced; Iñaki knew two of them from previous expeditions. In a previous report he described them as “ace climbers." “Serap Jambu is one of the few men who have summited K2 twice, (not to mention nine Everest summits), and Dawa is currently on his way to his fifth Dhaulagiri summit,” he wrote.

The controversy is on: If Koreans actually made it to the real summit of Dhaulagiri, so did Nives, Romano, Luca and probably some additional team members.

International team currently on Dhaulagiri consists in Italians Romano Benet, Nives Meroi, Luca Vuerich, Mario Cedolin, Erri De Luca, Cesare Giuliani, and Roberto Allo; Slovenian Klemen Gricar, Austrian Christan Stangl, German Peter Guggemos, Spaniard Inaki Ochoa, and Ecuadorian Ivan Vallejo.

The Korean team has already left the mountain.

Image of Inaki Ochoa, with Dhaulagiri on the background, courtesy of Iñaki Ochoa/Lorpen-Diario de navarra expedition

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