[Letters] Dhaulagari: A fascinating mountain in Nepal

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[Letters] Dhaulagari: A fascinating mountain in Nepal

I read a piece published in the Korea JoongAng Daily for June 23-24, 2012 titled “87 year-old to return to Tibet desert” describing Park Chul-am’s ambition to return to the Tibetan desert and leave an imprint of his arduous campaign to explore the uninhabitable Northern Tibet, which is unknown for many.

I have been very much impressed and touched by the passion and obsession of Professor Park of Kyunghee University to the mountains and nature, even at his age. While wishing him all the success in his endeavours, I would like to make clear some things mentioned about the mountains of Nepal, Mt. Everest and Mt. Dhaulagiri.

Prof. Park mentioned that Edmund Hillary was the first to explore Everest. It would be unjust to give credit to one person when the expedition was jointly completed by two persons. Everest was first successfully scaled by Hillary and Tenzing Norgey in 1953, with Tenzing as Hillary’s guide. At the time of climbing Everest, Hillary was a citizen of New Zealand and Tenzing was a Nepali citizen who later naturalized as an Indian.

Mr. Park’s attempt to scale Dhaulagiri, however unsuccessful, should be acclaimed wholeheartedly as an enthusiastic attempt to explore it. It would have been better if he had given the year in which he tried to scale it, though. He mentioned that he was the first person to try and climb Dhaulagiri when it was yet unconquered, yet this means the date could have been before 1960.

The exploration of Dhaulagiri and its climbing was started in 1950 by a French climbing team, which means the professor could have tried it before or around 1960, his prime age. However, following his pursuit, many South Korean mountaineers have successfully climbed the Dhaulagiri Mountain and set records making pride to their country and countrymen.

Starting from 1988 until 2009, according to the statistics of the Alpine Federation of Korea, 14 Korean summiteers have successfully climbed Dhaulagiri, among them two female climbers. Mr. Tae-sik Choi was the first among Koreans to reach the summit of Dhaulagiri in 1988. The year 2009 was the most successful year for the Korean climbers; it saw eight reach Dhaulagiri’s summit.

Dhaulagiri is the seventh highest mountain in the world with a height of 8,167 meters and one of the more difficult and dangerous 8000-meter (26,246-foot) peaks. The Dhaulagiri Himalaya also includes Dhaulagiri II, III, IV, V and VI. There are 14 peaks over 8,000 meters in the world, and eight of them are in Nepal, counting Dhaulagiri.

Dhaulagiri was first attempted by a French team of mountaineers led by Maurice Herzog and was successfully climbed on May 13, 1960 by a Swiss/Austrian expedition team. This most fascinating mountain was named in the Sanskrit language from the synthesis of the words dhawala and giri, which mean “beautiful white” and “mountain.”

*Counselor at the Embassy of Nepal
By Raja Ram Bartaula
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