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Monday, 28 October 2019

Trip report for Dhaulagiri Circuit led by Natalie Wilson and Chandra Rai in October 2019

Photo: Dhaulagiri Base Camp (4,700m)

In October 2019 we organised our 16th trek around Dhaulagiri Circuit in Nepal and our leaders for this group were Natalie, known as Nat, Wilson (UK) and Chandra Rai (Nepal) and the assistant guides supporting the group were Pasang, Vivek and Jon Lama. The cook was Sangram who has worked for us for many years and always produces excellent food for our groups.

The group arrived in Kathmandu on October 6th and in the afternoon Nat gave her group briefing on the rooftop terrace at Hotel Tibet. On the next day 7th they flew to Pokhara where they spent one night. On morning of 8th they drove by bus to the road head at Darbang and they walked to Dharapani for their first night’s camp.

Nat sums her experience leading this group as follows:

“This was a really successful trip. The group got on really well together and quickly became a solid, supportive and high-spirited team. We were blessed with good weather, stunning views, saw very few other people, ate well and had wonderful support from our crew. Although we didn’t summit Dhampus Peak due to snow and low cloud, we crossed the French Pass and Dhampus Pass, enjoying spectacular high mountain scenery and some of the group reached a high point of 5500 metres.

Excellent food and hygiene standards. No gastro issues at all. Food plentiful, varied and very tasty, always loads of veg too. Sangram very accommodating with treat meals when requested - egg and chips being a particular favourite, chicken curry and fried chicken.”

On October 19th, Nat and Pasang walked up to base of the ridge leading to Dhampus Peak for a recce later in the afternoon after crossing French Pass. They scoped out the route on Dhampus Peak and reported back to the group on the conditions, these were not ideal with unconsolidated loose snow on top of scree plus the weather forecast was high winds and light snow for 20th. Nat was happy to attempt Dhampus Peak however the other option discussed with the group was to walk up the ridge to viewpoint on west side of Hidden Valley.

This is a great walk as one can get pretty high by following this non technical route to get a view back to Mt Dhaulagiri and over Hidden Valley to the Annapurna range to the East. After a group discussion, it was unanimously decided that the objective for the next day would be to walk up this ridge and I agree this was a good call.

Please take a look at our video of Dhaulagiri Circuit October 2019 hosted on The Mountain Company's Channel on YouTube, below:

When I met the group on return to Kathmandu for a debrief, they told me how much they enjoyed walking up the ridge to the viewpoint overlooking Hidden Valley and were pleased with this decision. I gather they reach an altitude of 5,550m and I think this is the highest point that any of our groups have reached. You can read more about this walk and see photos on our blog --> Photos of day walk in Hidden Valley on Dhaulagiri Circuit trek

And Nat goes onto explain about the weather and conditions experienced as follows:

“Weather was overall excellent. We had a little rain early on, very cold and windy afternoon over French Pass and just one very cloudy, cold day up high which impacted Dhampus Peak.”

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 track all of our groups in the field with GPS check ins from Thuraya satellite phone and we use Google Maps in real time so friends and families can follow their progress - you can see the Google Maps for Dhaulagiri Circuit October 2019

We have received an AITO Traveller Review from one member of the group as follows:

"I trekked the Dhaulagiri circuit in a group of 7 led by Natalie Wilson. We had excellent weather, a very cohesive group and a wonderful local crew to look after us. The trek starts with almost subtropical scenery and a rarely trekked village, goes up through a dramatic rocky gorge with some very exposed sections, opens up with dramatic snow covered peak all around and then crosses into the arid Hidden Valley.

I have trekked in the Himalaya with several companies and The Mountain Company has been consistently the best. Attention to detail is outstanding. Everything works as planned. The Mountain Company employs western leaders to complement the local teams and this really does add value."

You can read all of our AITO Traveller Reviews received for our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek to find out feedback from our previous trekkers.

It would also be worth reading our Trip Reports published on our blog to find out more about our sixteen treks around Dhaulagiri Circuit. To find our more about the challenges of this trek take a look at our Blog article How hard is Dhaulagiri Circuit trek in Nepal?

Congratulations to the group for completing Dhaulagiri Circuit. I would like to thank Nat, Chandra, Sangram, Pasang, Vivek and Jon plus the rest of the team for their help and hard work. Good job!

The Mountain Company organises our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek twice a year in April and October. Our Dhaulagiri Circuit group in April 2020 is already guaranteed to run so please get in touch soon if you like to join this group.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

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