|Photo: Dhaulagiri Base Camp|
Our October Dhaulagiri Circuit group arrived back to Kathmandu last week after a successful trek around Mount Dhaulagiri where they crossed both French and Dhampus passes out to Jomsom in Kali Gandaki valley. The western leader for this trek was Paul Burditt who worked with Nepalese sirdar Jire Rai who has done this trek seven times so knows the route pretty well by now! The cook was Saila Rai who is our regular for camping treks as we always get great feedback on his food, luckily Saila is also coming as cook on my Mera Peak Expedition starting later this week....
I met up with this Dhaulagiri Circuit group on their return to Kathmandu at the ever popular K Too steakhouse where after much discussion we concluded these are definitely the best steaks in town! I also heard about the trek and obtain their feedback, it sounds like everyone had an enjoyable time with good weather and superb views from the days crossing the high passes. This year the coldest camp was at Glacier Camp where there was some snow on the ground however as explained in our Trip Dossier it is essential to stay here for at least one night (better two nights) in order to help the acclimatisation process. It seems other groups are still ascending too fast up to main Dhaulagiri Base Camp and others are camping at Swiss Camp in the Chonbarden gorge, this is incredibly dangerous place to stay as there is a high risk of rockfall (whereas once you get to Glacier camp this is a wider valley so rockfall would not affect the camp).
From what I heard the highlights of the trip was as usual the spectacular day crossing Dhampus Pass and in fact this group made really good time arriving to Yak Kharka camp by mid-afternoon. I gather one of the other highlights was watching Paul dance in Boghara at a culture show put on by the locals…if anyone in the group has any video or photos please email to me, thanks!! In the end the group decided to spend one night in Hidden Valley and cross Dhampus Pass a day early then spent the extra day in the beautiful village of Marpha. There were rumours that one member of the group still felt energetic on this rest day and walked back up the hill to Yak Kharka, this is a 1,000m ascent! Whereas the others in the group had a somewhat more gentle day walking around the village then visited the Tibetan monastery followed by sampling the locally made apple brandy. Then on the next day the group walked short distance to Jomsom where I gather Paul organised a honeymoon suite in lodge for Simon and Vicky recently married- what a great trip for a honeymoon!!
Unfortunately on October 24th when this group planned to fly back from Jomsom to Pokhara and onto Kathmandu their flights were cancelled due to high winds at the airport so the decision was made to drive down Kali Gandaki valley back to Beni. As this was during Dashain festival there were not many buses and many people wanting to travel so after changing from jeeps to an overcrowded bus everyone felt it would be better (and safer) to walk in the end they got to Tatopani (hot springs) that evening. A jeep was organised to pick them up early next morning for the drive to Beni where on arrival they took our crew bus to Pokhara and luckily managed to get flights in the afternoon back to Kathmandu.
There is no doubt this was a challenging end to the trip especially tough after a long trek when I am sure everyone was looking forward to spending some time in Kathmandu. However from what I heard everyone accepted the change in itinerary in good spirits so thanks you to everyone's patience and understanding and after all this is adventure travel in a developing country so flexibility and sense of humour is a must in these situations! This is of course the reason we include two nights in Kathmandu at the end of this itinerary to act as a buffer day in case of any delays so reduce the risk of people missing their flights back home.
I would like to thank Paul very much for his help in leading this trek especially with the challenges as explained above with organising the group's transport down Kali Gandaki after their flight was cancelled from Jomsom. And of course a huge thanks to Jire and Saila plus the Sherpas and rest of the crew who worked incredibly hard throughout the trek.
The Mountain Company is organising two Dhaulagiri Circuit treks in 2013, our first departure is in April with second departure in October, please get in touch with us soon if you are interested in joining one of these treks.