Rated as the seventh highest mountain in the world, the majestic Dhaulagiri in north central Nepal is widely considered to be one of the toughest peaks in the world, with mountaineers from all over the world seeking to conquer it. Having set a goal of scaling all fourteen peaks over 8,000 meters high, on 8 May 2009 an expedition made up of ten members of the Indian Army became the first climbers from India to make it to the peak of the 8,167 meter high Dhaulagiri. The successful climb to the peak of Dhaulagiri, brings the number of peaks conquered by the Indian Army team to a total of six, with the other five being Mount Everest, Lhotse, ChoOyu, Kanchenjunga and Annapurna.
Dhaulagiri (meaning “white mountain”) is incorporated into a subrange of the Himalayas located in the Dhawalagiri Zone of north central Nepal, known as the Dhaulagiri Himal. Way back in 1808, Dhaulagiri was considered to be the world’s highest mountain, a position it held for thirty years before it was discovered that Kangchenjunga, on the border of Nepal and India, was in fact higher. Since then other mountains have been discovered that pushed Dhaulagiri into seventh place, with Mount Everest currently being the undisputed highest mountain in the world.
While six other mountains are higher than Dhaulagiri measured in meters above sea level, when measured in terms of rise above surrounding terrain, Dhaulagiri stands out above the rest. With the deep Kali Gandaki gorge dividing them, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna (tenth highest mountain in the world) standing facing each other – an awe-inspiring sight.
A Swiss/Austrian expedition under the leadership of Max Eiselin was the first to climb Dhaulagiri on 13 May 1960 via the Northeast Ridge route which had been mapped previously by an Austrian expedition led by Fritz Moravec. The expedition was supported by a fixed-wing aircraft which crashed and was abandoned in the Hidden Valley located north of the mountain. While Dhaulagiri has been approached from virtually all directions, the first ascent route is considered to be the normal route and is the most commonly used.
Mountain climbing is not free of risks, and sadly Dhaulagiri has claimed its fair share of lives. However, this has not deterred dedicated mountain climbers who are determined to conquer this majestic mountain in the beautiful country of Nepal.