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Monday, 13 June 2016

Trip report for Dhaulagiri Circuit led by Almas Khan and Domi Sherpa in April 2016

Photo: Mount Dhaulagiri seen from French Pass
In April we organised our 12th group trek around Dhaulagiri Circuit and this was also our 2nd expedition to climb Dhampus Peak. On their return to Kathmandu I caught up with most of the group for a debrief at KToo steakhouse in Kathmandu for their feedback on the trip.

We had six people in this group and out of these one person decided to pay for the extra cost to climb Dhampus Peak. This surcharge covers the permit fee US$250 and per permit rules the costs to provide equipment to the climbing guide of US$350 and insurance fees for helicopter rescue. Therefore the cost of this surcharge depends on the number of people opting for Dhampus Peak and with a larger group the cost per person will decrease i.e in Autumn season for six people this works out at US$595 per person.

The group arrived to Kathmandu on April 17th and as usual with our teams there was a mix of nationalities with people coming from UK, Australia, India, USA and Germany. The leaders for our Dhaulagiri Circuit with Dhampus trip were Almas Khan (Australia) and Domi Sherpa (Nepal). The Sherpa guide supporting the group was Sonam and the cook was Saila Tamang.

After the pre-trip briefing given by Almas and Domi on April 17th the group flew to Pokhara on 18th and took the bus to Beni then after lunch walked to their first camp at Tatopani. The weather in Nepal this Spring has been been dry with virtually no rain however there was an afternoon rain storm on evening of first day trekking. This precipitation cleared the air as the views at lower level had been obscured for several weeks by haze caused by forest fires throughout Nepal. I gather the group were lucky to get good views of the Himalayas including Mt Dhaulagiri over next two days as they walked through the villages. As ever the days lower down on Dhaulagiri Circuit are always hot and humid as first night camp at Tatopani is only at an altitude of 870 metres.

After Boghara village on Day 5 the trail enters sub-tropical forest and then on Day 8 rises out of tree line to reach Italian Base Camp. We have carefully designed our Dhaulagiri Circuit for acclimatisation and our groups have two nights at Italian Base Camp at 3,660m followed by two nights at Glacier Camp at 4,200m then a further two nights at Dhaulagiri Base Camp at 4,700m. Only with this ascent profile will you have enough time for your body to adapt to the high altitude for safe crossing of the high passes and for sleeping in Hidden Valley at 5,050m.

As reported in Trip Report for Dhaulagiri Circuit in October 2015 there was a change in the trail from Italian Base Camp to Glacier Camp as previously one approached the glacier on left side of Chonbarden gorge however the glacier has melted back and now there is no longer a gentle ramp to access the glacier. In October our group had to cross the glacial river however luckily for our April’s group were able to cross on a snow bridge.

As with all of TMC western led treks we track their progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins, you can see the map of this trek in SPOT Adventure website

Throughout this expedition we received weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at everestweather.com and we sent these onto Almas by text to his satellite phone. Overall the weather for this trek was good with sunny and stable conditions and had sunny day on crossing French Pass and Dhampus Pass. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.


On May 1st most of the group went for exploration walks around Hidden Valley following the ridge walk as described in my blog article “Photos of day walk in Hidden Valley on Dhaulagiri Circuit trek”. The feedback from the group was enjoyed this day and is a good alternative to climbing Dhampus Peak in order to save money on paying for peak fees and other costs as explained above. The views are wonderful views over to Annapurnas and Nilgiri to the east and over to Dolpo to the west and also to Mount Dhaulagiri.

One member of the group plus Almas and Domi left the camp in Hidden Valley early in the morning to ascend to Dhampus pass. In the end they reached nearly 6,000m however was turned around as was not moving fast enough and was running out of time to get back to Hidden Valley before dark. It is worth bearing in mind if considering the climb of Dhampus Peak that the ascent is 1,000m from
camp in Hidden Valley. This is a big day at altitude!

I have copied one members feedback from AITO.com website below:

"I trekked around Dhaulagiri, crossing the French (5,380m) and Dhampus (5,250m) passes, with an attempt on Dhampus peak (6,030 m) where I got to 5,800 m on the summit ridge. The trek was excellent and we were very lucky to have near perfect weather. The trek was very well organized, with the group well prepared for the inclement weather and trail conditions frequently experience on this route. This was a very well organized trek, with excellent leadership by Almas Khan, and sirdar Domi Sherpa. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would have no hesitation in choosing The Mountain Company organized future trek." 

Congratulations to the group for completing Dhaulagiri Circuit! I would like thank Almas, Domi, Sonam and Saila plus the rest of the team for their help and hard work in making this trip work so well.

The Mountain Company organise our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek and Dhampus Peak expedition twice a year in April and October, please get in touch if you like to join one of these departures. By the way our Dhaulagiri Circuit group in October 2016 is already guaranteed to run and the group is filling.

Roland Hunter

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