On 01/05/2008 Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner from Austria and Edurne Pasabán from Spain both summited Dhaulagiri (8167m), their 11th and 10th 8000m peak respectively. Ivan Vallejo from Ecuador topped out the same day, completing his collection of all 14 8000m peaks.
"This time Dhaulagiri wanted us. I’m extremly satisfied and very grateful!" This is what Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner had to say on 01 May after having summit Dhaulagiri, her 11th 8000m peak. These are important words, especially if one remembers that exactly a year ago the Austrian micarculously survived an avalanche that swept through Camp 2 on Dhaulagiri, killing two Spanish mountaineers.
But this year things turned out differently: climbing together with David Göttler, the Austrian left the high camp at 7350m at 3.00am and, fighting against intense cold down to -30°C and high winds, reached the summit at midday together with Göttler, Ivan Vallejo (his 14th 8000m peak) and four other mountaineers. Kaltenbrunner and Göttler then descended down to Base Camp, with just one short rest at 6750m where they melted some snow and gathered their strengths for the final 2000m.
It is worth noting that Edurne Pasabán from Spain summited Dhaulagiri that very same day. With this 10th peak she "equals" the number of 8000m peaks ascended by another woman, Nives Meroi from Italy.
While all three mountaineers underline that being the first to climb all 14 Himalayan giants is definitely not a race, it almost goes without saying that they might be feeling a little pressure. For what it's worth, we for our part would like to reduce some of this pressure, reminding all that the only that really counts is to climb and return home safe and sound. Because as the late Alex Lowe once quite rightly stated: "the best climber in the world is the one that has the most fun."