OUR mountaineering expedition to Dhaulagiri II (7,751 m.) was carried out in the pre-monsoon period of 1975; it was sponsored by the Alpine Club of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.
The members were Nobuyoshi Kobayashi (Leader and Doctor), Tomoaki Katho (climbing leader), Yoshio Kameyama, Kenichi Ojima, Isao Yamaguchi, Bunshichi Tanaka, Naohisa Kawashima and Kimio Kanasugi.
The funds of the expedition was estimated at about U.S.$ 40,000, but it was not enough to support the expedition. So we decided that most of the provisions and equipments would have to be purchased in Kathmandu to save the expense of transportation.
Dhaulagiri II was climbed by the Austrian party in 1970. But they had approached the peak from the northern side through the Shorten ridge*. There was, however, no record of an attempt from the south.
A Japanese party which attempted Dhaulagiri V from the Tsaurabong glacier gave us some information about this aspect, which led us to believe that it was possible to reach the summit from the east ridge above the Tsaurabong glacier.
One member left Japan for Kathmandu in the middle of November 1974 to arrange the purchase of equipment and provi¬sions. He also hired six Sherpas as high-altitude porters and one cook. Pemba Tsering (Namche) was selected as the Sirdar of this expedition. The remaining members left Japan for Kathmandu with about 1.5 tons of baggage at the end of January 1975. We started from Pokhara on 10 March with nine Sherpas, a liaison officer and about 130 porters.
The caravan proceeded without any incident, via Kusma, Beni, Dharbang, Muri and reached the last karka on the right, bank Myagdi Khola at about 3,700 metres. Here we established a temporary base camp (T.B.C.) on 24 March. It was a flat plain under a big rock wall, but at that time, all was covered by deep snow.
Most of the porters returned home from here but 20 of them remained for local carrying about.
Our plan was to climb up the big wall above the T.B.C. and to establish the Base Camp on the Tsaurabong glacier.
The first big wall was about 1,200 m. high and comprised mixed rock, grass and ice pitches.
For several days we could not move because of the heavy snow. So the plan to carry up equipment and provisions was delayed considerably. On 3 March, we established the Deposit Camp (D.C.) on a small plateau of the wall. This place was about 4,400 m. high.
On 1 April, three members including the leader reached T.B.C. All members and Sherpas and the local porters carried up the baggages from T.B.C. to D.C.
The Base Camp was established on 6 April at about 5,000 m. This place was situated at the end of the glacier and on a big snow plain. From here the summit of the Dhaulagiri II was still far, but the east ridge did not appear too steep and our hopes for a successful attempt rose.
The weather was stable. We had a clear sky and hot sunshine every day except for the occasional snow fall.
It was easy to progress on the Tsaurabong glacier which had a gentle slope and looked like a big snow plain. We established Camp 1 at about 5,300 m.
Camp 2 was established on 21 April at about 5,500 m. This was also on the glacier and situated at the foot of a feeder ridge of the main east ridge. We made this camp as Advance Base Camp, for the east ridge commenced from here and looked some¬what difficult.
The first problem for us was to decide at what place we should begin the climbing of the big ridge. Some routes were investigat¬ed, and we decided to take a small feeder ridge dropping down from the first peak on the ridge. Hopes were fixed on most of the parts of the route. On 27 April, some members reached the foot of a steep rock wall just under which on 30 April we established Camp 3 at about 6,700 m. The summit was still out of sight.
The right side of the ridge fell steeply to the north-east glacier and the rock wall was too steep and too big. We decided, there¬fore, to make a route on the left side of the ridge traversing under the rock-wall. This route was on the south face of the Dhaulagiri II and had a steep face of snow and hard ice.
A team of two members made an effort to open a route by fixing ropes. But it did not go well, because the weather was not so good and the members could not maintain their strength.
In May the weather was not so stable. We had good weather only in the mornings. In the afternoons we had a thick fog and then snow. We assumed that the monsoon was approaching. One more camp was needed to reach the summit. But it was difficult to find a good place to erect a tent.
At last we decided to make a direct attack from Camp 3. It was to be the last day for the summit. On 16 May two members started from Camp 3 at 5 a.m., and a few hours later one more Member and two Sherpas climbed up to support the team. The summit team soon reached the end of the fixed ropes and continued the climbing.
The support team also climbed up the fixed ropes to the upper face. The summit team reached a height of about 7,300 m. on the snow-face at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. But they had to climb another 400 metres from there to the summit. In addi¬tion there was about another 1,000 m. lateral distance to the summit, and they would have to traverse over two minor peaks on the way, which would necessitate one or two bivouacs in the open. Their condition was not so good, and then the weather was getting from bad to worse. Our leader decided that they should return. They left a red duvet as the sign of the highest point reached and came down by the same route. The two teams met at about 3 o'clock at approximately 7,100 m. and climbed down together.
They came back to Camp 3 at about 5 o'clock without accident. We left the T.B.C. on 25 May and arrived in Kathmandu on 5 June.