The approach starts from the town of Tukuche at 8,533 feet or 2.586 meters. Some veterans say, it's the second most difficult approach to an 8,000 meter peak (after Makalu ). The trail goes from cc. 8,500 feet to cc. 15,500 in some 25 kilometers or 16 miles. The trail goes over two high passes, Damphus at 17,100' (5182m) and French Col at 17,600' (5334M). Because the animals (that you rent to carry gear and food in Tukuche) have no grass to eat above the tree line, the drivers do this trek in less than three days. One day they stop at 12,000 feet, next day at French Col and third morning at the BC. This is very taxing on both Porters and Climbers who need to be there to pick up all the gear, that just gets dumped on the lower Dhaulagiri Morraine. We had several of our 25 Porters suffering from altitude problems and the sudden elevation gain caused problems for all of us. Very adventurous, steep and difficult approach.
From the Base Camp, hike through the lower Dhaulagiri Ice Fall to the base of the Eiger, a rock formation that's very well named. The shape and the rockfall are similar to the famous one. There are old fixed lines, that climb the Eiger for about 4 pitches to the base of it's vertical face. The ropes then skirt the base of the face and deposit you in the middle of the heavily broken Dhaulagiri Glacier. There were some fixed lines (in 1994) in this section, but most people just used two ice tools, to climb through the icefall and onto the flat section above. Hike to the Northeast Col at about 18.800 feet to C1. From there, bypass the serac barrier and climb up the lower NE Ridge to C2, hidden in a large crevasse at about 21,600 feet. Climb the steepening ridge (up to 45 degrees ice) to C3 at about 23,000 feet. A few, short sections below the C3 have fixed lines, but most people climb this unroped. Continue to climb to the obvious Black Piramid at the top of the NE Ridge, place C4 at the base of the rock piramid (24,300ft). In 1994, we followed the horizontal ledges and rock band to the right from C4, then skirted the rocks and hiked along the huge snow face to the right of the summit ridge. This avoids the rock climbing on the final section of the NE Ridge, but is only feasible in good snow conditions. Continue climbing out onto the face until 40 degree gully allows you to climb up and meet the summit ridge. Continue via easier technical terrain on the upper Northeast Ridge to the summit. 8-14 hours from C4.
Expeditionary gear for high altitude climb.
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