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Friday, 3 November 2017

Trip report for Dhaulagiri Circuit led by Natalie Wilson and Pema Sherpa in October 2017

Photo: Mt Dhaulagiri seen from French Pass in October 2017 (credit: Natalie Wilson)

In October we organised our 15th trek around Dhaulagiri Circuit in Nepal and out of these 13 groups successfully & safely crossed the passes over to Jomsom. The two years where our groups had to turn back was after Cyclone HudHud in October 2014 and the earthquake in April 2015.

Our leaders for our October 2017 Dhaulagiri Circuit trek were Natalie, known as Nat, Wilson (UK) and Pema Sherpa (Nepal) and the asssistant guides supporting the group were Sona, Bale and Kancha. We had thirteen people in this group and like in previous years this group was an international mix with people coming from UK, USA, Germany, Canada, Australia and Denmark.

The group arrived to Kathmandu on October 8th, in the afternoon Nat gave her group briefing in the garden of Hotel Manaslu and I attended too. On the next day 9th they flew to Pokhara where they spent one night. Nat organised a group meal at Road House restaurant on Lakeside in the evening and I heard everyone enjoyed their time in Pokhara before starting the trek. On morning of 10th they drove by bus to the road head at Beni where they met the crew then walked to their first camp at Babichaur.

Photo: October 2017 group having breakfast at Dharapani (credit: Natalie Wilson)

The trek went well and the group arrived to Italian Base Camp as planned on October 16th. On October 22nd the group crossed French Col into Hidden Valley. I think probably the weather and conditions experienced by this group was the best on any of our previous October treks. Nat sums up below:

"The weather was absolutely fantastic. An hour or so of rain at Sallaghiri, some cold winds and a little snow up high but settled mornings, great views, bit of cloud build up in afternoon."

Throughout this expedition we received weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and we sent these onto Nat by text to her satellite phone. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.

We have carefully designed our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek 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.

Photo: Pema Sherpa demonstrating use of PAC bag (credit: Natalie Wilson)

As with all of TMC camping treks we track their progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins -----> see the map of this trek in SPOT Adventure website

Within our Dhaulagiri Circuit itinerary after crossing the high  passes we fly out from Jomsom to Pokhara and then change planes for the flight back to Kathmandu. During the trek we were informed by Goma Air that they had decided to cancel our confirmed booking for this flight from Jomsom. As this is peak season we tried to rebook onto another airlines however Tara Airlines was full so it looked likely at one stage this group would have to drive from Jomsom to Pokhara down the rough jeep road along Kali Gandaki river. Luckily a few days before the group arrived to Pokhara we managed to book a charter plane from Tara Airlines directly back to Kathmandu. This is the reality of travelling in Nepal and confirmed bookings are not always honoured so it is worth bearing this in mind if you are considering a trip to Nepal! This is adventure travel...

Photo: October 2017 group in Hidden Valley (credit: Natalie Wilson)

Nat summarises her experience leading this group as follows:

"In my opinion Dhaulagiri Circuit is an incredible trip and we were particularly lucky to have better than expected weather every day. We only saw a couple of other groups and had the high camps all to ourselves. I think the group enjoyed it a lot and there were no fitness issues or excessive fatigue or struggle and for the main everyone stayed in good health. We experienced wonderful views and had a good crew with a nice atmosphere. The food was excellent – Sangram and his team did an excellent job. Lots of carbs but balanced out with plenty of veggies, lots of variety. His cakes, chicken curry and chop suey on the last night was absolutely the best yet!"

Photo: October 2017 group crossing Dhampus Pass (credit: Natalie Wilson)

Congratulations to the group for completing Dhaulagiri Circuit. I would like to thank Nat, Pema and Sangram plus the rest of the team for their help and hard work.

The Mountain Company organises our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek twice a year in April and October. Our Dhaulagiri Circuit group in April 2018 is nearly guaranteed to run so please get in touch soon if you like to join this group.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

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