Mountain of Storms: The American Expeditions to Dhaulagiri

Harvard, Andrew
Year Published: 

"""In the Dolpo region of central Nepal"" sits Dhaulagiri I, the immense White Mountain, all rock and ice, unpredictable, vicious and aloof. This fifth peak of the Dhaulagiri massif rises 26,795 feet above the green valley below it, and its summit-the sixth highest in the world-is one of the last to be climbed.

From the moment it had first been seen by European eyes it was inevitable that expeditions and expeditions would travel to that aloof peak to try to climb it. In the years between 1949 and 1960 teams of French, Germans, South Americans, Swiss and Japanese followed one another in the attempt until finally the Swiss prevailed, and then named Dhaulagiri I aptly, and poetically, ""Mountain of Storms.""

History is no ice wall but a continuum; and no two climbs on the big white mountain are more fundamentally or importantly linked than the American expeditions of 1969 and 1973. This book is the unusual account of both attempts, one tragic, the other mixing triumph with failure, each extraordinary in what it reveal s about the ""mountain"" in our minds.

This collaborative telling by climbers Andrew Harvard and Todd Thompson focuses on the'73 American team of which they were part. Their narrative possesses an unusual and a very deliberate control, foregoing what would have been the natural temptation to ""heroicize."" Instead, the authors opt for a restrained, spartan (and sometimes robustly humorous) realism. The reader will not have far to go to sense in these low-key, accurate reflections and recollections a building momentum. It is appropriate under statement to say that the integrity of what is written throughout is worthy of a strong climax. And again, the authors do not fail. Obviously then, Mountain of Storms is not simply the true account of a big climb. It is a rich texture of many things: the men, with their widely varying dispositions and backgrounds; the abundance of naturalistic and scientific observation. Finally, the climb itself, a chain of successes and near-disasters, reflections, ruminations, lethargies and motivations, laden with the implications of a close-knit, classless society that evolved-or did it?-at high altitude.

The visual offerings in, this book are rich and abundant. From an original sixteen thousand color photographs, seventy-seven black-and-white and sixteen full color selections, all shot by the climbers themselves, are reproduced. These photographic Illustrations have been chosen for their technical excellence and their narrative quality. Along with the original maps of the campsites and climbing routes they give the ultimate stamp to the complete experience, foretelling an appeal to readers as diverse as the men whose story this is


Dhaulagiri 1

Foray into the Icefall 5

Making of an Expedition 25

Approach to Dhaulagiri 53

Meeting the Mountain 77

The Southeast Ridge 103

The Northeast Spur 135

Reflections of the Mountain 163

Note on Retinal Photography 179

Mountaineering History of Dhaulagiri 1 185

Chronology of theAmerican Expeditions 187

Note on Terms 189

Note on Loadcarrying 195

Note on the Teams 199

List of Sponsors and Suppliers 203

Sample Menus 209"