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Dhaulagiri: an avalanche buries two Spanish mountaineers

15.05.2007 by

The Spanish mountaineers Ricardo Valencia and Santiago Sagaste died beneath an avalanche yesterday as they waited out a storm in the tent at Camp 2 on Dhaulagiri (8167m).

2007 is becoming increasingly tragic on Dhaulagiri. After Italian mountaineer Sergio Dalla Longa slipped to his death just a few meters from the summit, last weekend two Spanish mountaineers Ricardo Valencia and Santiago Sagaste died beneath an avalanche which burried Camp 2 on Saturday 12 May. Miraculously Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner from Austria and Javi Serrano escaped tragedy, despite being in the tent near by.

The four mountaineers had left BC on Friday 11 May for their final summit attempt, but once again the difficult pre-monsoon weather halted progress and pinned them down in Camp 2. On Saturday an avalanche swept through the Camp killing Ricardo Valencia and Santiago Sagaste, while Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Javi Serrano managed to escape.

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Javi Serrano were subsequently rescued by Spanish teammates José Ángel Sánchez e Luis Rollo who were in Camp 1 at the time.

Both Spaniards were expert Himalayan mountaineers: expedition leader Santiago Sagaste had successfully climbed Shisha Pangma and Gasherbrum II, while Ricardo Valencia ahead summited Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum II, Makalu and Nanga Parbat.

The Spanish Ejea de los Caballeros expedition was the only remaining expedition on the mountain, and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner had joined in the hope of climbing her 10th 8000m peak which turned out so cruel. Once again Dhaulagiri confirms herself as being an extremely difficult mountain, also due to critical snow conditions along the final section of the climb which, according to many mountaineers, have changed dramatically during the last few seasons.

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