We fly into Kathmandu and have a whole day set aside, whilst our leader makes permit arrangement for Dhampus Peak. We then fly to Pokhara and stary overnight in a nice lodge. From here we drive to Darbang to start the trek (we’ll fly back at the end from Jomsom). On the first three days of the trek we walk to the south of the Dhaulagiri Massif, first along the Kali Gandaki and after that through the Myagdi Khola valley. Temperatures can be reasonably warm walking through the terraces. From Muri we follow the trail north, to Dhorpatan, in the direction of the Dhaulagiri Massif. With its seven summits above 7,000m, the Dhaulagiri Massif is undoubtedly one of the most impressive mountain areas in the Himalayas. We follow increasingly difficult paths high above the Myagdi Khola river. As the terrain becomes steeper, the trekking days become necessarily shorter, so that we can slowly acclimatise to the high altitude. Higher still, we walk through a marvelous U-shaped glacier valley to reach the Chhonbardan Glacier, and eventually Dhaulagiri Base Camp at an altitude of 4,750 m.
We stay in base camp for one day to acclimatise and to breathe in the fabulous views of the surrounding mountains. The toughest day of the trek is the crossing of French Col (5,350 m) to reach our highest camp site is in the Hidden Valley, located at 5,000m. In clear weather conditions, this section of the trek is not too difficult, but the Hidden Valley and the Dhampus Pass should not be underestimated and are notorious for attracting bad weather. From Dhampus Pass we hope to enjoy breathtaking views on Tukuche Peak, Dhaulagiri (8,167m), Nilgiri and the Annapurna Massif. For those who have opted to try and climb Dhamphus Peak, the potential reward is a 6,000m snow summit. After the difficult descent down the north side of Dhampus Pass we finally reach Marpha, which is on the Annapurna trekking route. At Jomsom, we fly back to Kathmandu via Pokhara.
Dhamphus Peak was climbed by both of our October/November 2009 teams and it was felt that we should make more of this superb summit in our itinerary (optional climb on day 16). Feedback included; “More needs to be made about Dhamphus Peak, much better than anticipated” and “As good as Island Peak”. The vertical relief from our high camp in the Hidden Valley to the summit is 1,000m, so expect this to be a long (6.5 hours to the summit and 5.5 hours to drop down to our camp below Dhamphus Pass). However, the effort of this climb is rewarded with some huge views of Dhaulagiri and the surrounding mountains.
Day 1: Fly to Kathmandu
Our flight to Nepal departs London Heathrow in the evening.
Day 2: Arrive Kathmandu
In Kathmandu, we will stay at the Summit Hotel; positioned well away from the noise and bustle of the city centre, it has extensive gardens, a swimming pool and an atmosphere of quiet, restful charm. It is a Dutch owned, British managed establishment with a friendly and helpful Nepalese staff. Team members will be accommodated on a twin share basis in large en-suite rooms. Single rooms are available if you prefer, for which a supplement is payable.
Day 3-4: Fly/Drive to Darbang
Our adventure travel begins with a flight from Kathmandu Pokhara, where we overnight in a nice lodge. From here we drive to Darbang via Beni. We will fly back from Jomsom at the end of the trek. The road from Pokhara is a rough track and from Beni to Darbang is little more than a scar scratched through the valley, which barely permits the passage of motor vehicles. However, the driving it is less unpleasant than walking amongst the traffic and dust and saves a day and a half walking. We camp at Darbang at an altitude of 1,180m.
Day 5: Trek to Phallya Gaon (1,800m)
In the morning we cross the suspension bridge over the Myagdi Khola (khola = river), the main valley that we will be following towards Dhaulagiri. We leave the world of motor vehicles for the next 12 days. The trail initially follows the West side of the river, before crossing a small bridge over the Dang Khola at Phedi, then climbing steeply up a zig zag path on a spur to reach the village of Dharapani. The trail contours through cultivated and populated hillsides, with a lunch break possibly in Sibang, before we choose our campsite at Phallya Gaon for the night at around 1,800m.
Day 6: Trek to Jugapani (2,000m)
We leave Phallya Gaon by crossing a small suspension bridge over the Dara Khola, climbing the other side of the Khola, then traversing round to the village of Muri. The path is the main route through this valley so has a lot of local traffic – folk going about their daily business, cattle and horses, and other trekking groups. The backdrop is the panorama of this part of the Himalaya . To the north west we can see Gurja Himal (7,193m), Konabon (6,570m) and Myagumath (6,273m). To the north east, Dhaulagiri 1 (8,167m) and Manapati (6,380m). Muri is in a large, terraced bowl in the hillside and from here we descend several hundred meters to cross the Muri Khola by a new metal bridge, then climb over a steep, forested ridge to descend the other side to find ourselves once again on the west bank of the Myagdi Khola. With a lunch stop in the forest somewhere along the way, we camp for the night at Jugapani at around 2,000m. This is near where the trail is joined by the track from the east side of the Myagdi Khola from Darbang.
Day 7: Trek to Dobang (2,260m)
Fairly soon after starting out this morning, the trail climbs steeply before contouring a steep slope high above the river. After a while there is a fork in the path – the original path which climbs even higher to avoid a barrier of cliffs – or the lower route which most parties seem to opt for (it is a good 2 hours shorter but it involves a couple of hundred meters of very steep, narrow and exposed path which is safeguarded by “in situ” rope hand rails). Porters with baskets need additional safety ropes, and it may be prudent to back up the existing ropes with additional ones for the safety of the whole party. This section of path was started about 6 years ago, but funds ran out, and there is a section of only 10 meters or so that still need a path carved into the cliff face, hence the exposed detour. After this however there is a straightforward final steep climb to gain the huge, cultivated bowl that is Boghara at around 2,080m. From Boghara the path goes up and down, wet at times, staying on the west bank of the Myagdi Khola, taking us through fantastic Himalayan forest, with the possibility of seeing monkeys playing in the trees. A beautiful walk, with one more short, steep section which has been constructed across another cliff. We have lunch somewhere along the way, ending today at Dobang (2,260m). Dobang is a clearing in the forest with a tea house and space to camp near the base of the Konabain Khola, under the east face of Dhaulagiri 4.
Day 8: Trek to Soligari (3,100m)
Today’s walk continues through the forest, a bit like a gigantic natural Botanical Gardens Walk! First we cross the Konabain Khola, and then cross the Myagdi Khola, both on seasonal wooden bridges (interesting!).The path then stays on the east bank of the main valley, reaching Soligari at 3,100m after a few hours.
Day 9: Trek to Italian Base Camp (3,600m)
From Soligari we cross the Choriban Khola flowing down from the east. The valley suddenly opens up and we begin to see the huge west face of Dhaulagiri 1 and the peaks towering above the west side of the Myagdi Khola. The forest becomes less dense, with more bamboo and eventually after climbing a steep ridge, we come out of the forest altogether and onto the open hillside under the west face of Dhaulagiri 1. This has become known as the Italian Base Camp and will be home for two nights at an altitude of 3,600m.
Day 10: Acclimatisation at Italian Base Camp (3,600m)
A rest and acclimatisation day to give us a chance to catch up with domestic chores and writing up log books. It’s not a bad idea to do a little ‘active pottering’, exploring the area and living in awe of something like 4,500 metres of mountain overhead!
Day 11: Trek to Chhonbardan Glacier Camp (4,200m)
To gain access to the upper valley, that will in turn take us to the Chhonbardan Glacier, we have to cross a huge breach in the moraine and the frozen debris of a massive avalanche fan that forms at the bottom of the west face. The initial descent down the moraine slope is very step, so the Sherpas will run a rope out as a hand rail, as much for the benefit of the porters as for the group. Climbing the slopes on the other side is straightforward (if steep); this section could present problems if icy, or if covered in fresh snow. Once in the upper valley, we pass the site of a large bivouac cave, and the sites of the American and French Base Camps. The path is now back on the west side of the river, and soon leads us onto the Chhonbardan Glacier, which is completely moraine-covered in its lower reaches. At around 4,220m there are platforms levelled on the glacier’s surface, which can accommodate our camp for the night. This is quite a short day, but it is important not to ascend at this altitude too quickly.
Day 12: Trek to Dhaulagiri Base Camp (4,600m)
Another fairly short day, taking perhaps 4 or 5 hours to walk up the moraine-covered Chhonbardan Glacier to “Dhaulagiri Base Camp” at 4,600m. Base Camp is really a huge area of the glacier where expeditions have based themselves over the years. Terraces have been levelled on the stony ground and there is a choice of sites depending on who else is around. As at Italian Base Camp, we will spend 2 nights here to become well acclimatised before going over 5,000m.
Day 13: Acclimatisation at Dhaulagiri Base Camp (4,600m)
Another day for domestics, exploring, and taking in the magnificent setting. To the east is Tukuche Peak (6,920m) and to the south, we can look onto the north side of Dhaulagiri 1.
Day 14: Cross the French Col (5,400m) into the Hidden Valley
The path from Base Camp goes along the north side of the glacier. It is flat for a while, then it climbs a steep bank to eventually follow the crest of a massive moraine ridge to wide, open slopes that lead to the crest of French Col/Pass at 5,400m. It should take 4 or 5 hours to get there. Cairns, prayer flags and wonderful views provide distraction for a rest before descending easy slopes into “Hidden Valley”, where we find a campsite for the night at around 5,050m.
Day 15: Optional ascent of Dhamphus Peak (6,060m)
A pre-dawn start is the order for our ascent of Dhampus Peak. A straightforward climb technically, the terrain is likely to be a mixture of frozen snow fields, and patches of slatey scree. At approximatly 1,000m of ascent from high camp to the summit, you can expect this to be a very tough day physically. Breaking trail after fresh snowfall would make it an even more arduous climb. There is a long ridge of a mixture of very shattered slatey rock and snow, with occasional steps to negotiate. Axes, crampons, harnesses and ropes need to be carried, but may not be needed depending on the circumstances of the day. Cold is more likely to be a bigger issue, and it is essential that everyone is prepared for potentially very low temperatures, and a high wind-chill factor. The summit, at 6,060m is a fine rocky peak with extensive views of the Annapurnas to the south east, the Dhaulagiris to the south west, and Mustang to the north. The descent involves going back along the ridge a short way before descending slopes heading south for about 1,000m to join the path that crosses Dhampus Pass from Hidden Valley. We will be met here by those choosing not to climb and the cook team, who will be waiting with refreshments.
Day 16: Spare day
We include a spare day in the itinerary to allow for the flexibility that is mandatory on a trek such as this. All the factors that contribute to the outcome of such an itinerary need to come together, and any of weather, conditions underfoot, health, acclimatisation, logistics can easily disrupt the best laid plans.
Day 17: Descend to Yak Kharka (3,680m).
From our camp somewhere below Dhampus Pass, we continue along to the west edge of the Kali Gandaki Valley, where we descend to Yak Kharka for the night, at 3,680m. It would be a huge descend all the way from Dhampus Peak into the bottom of the valley, so we need to split this in order to save our knees!
Day 18: Trek to Jomsom (2,670m)
From Yak Kharka it is still over 1,000 metres to the floor of the valley, but once there, it is only about an hour’s walk north east to Jomsom. We will stay here for the rest of the day and overnight in anticipation of our flight to Pokhara tomorrow. In the event of bad weather and there being no flights out of Jomsom, the alternative is to walk, jeep and bus south to Beni. This valley is part of the famous Annapurna Circuit, but a road has been extended to Jomsom, so it is now possible (if uncomfortable) to travel by motor vehicle.
Day 19: Fly via Pokhara to Kathmandu
A morning flight to Pokhara, then a flight on to Kathmandu should see us back at the Summit Hotel by early afternoon – a welcome swim in the pool and the delights of hot showers and clean clothes again. Perhaps even a celebration meal out together in the evening.
Day 20: At Leisure in Kathmandu
A final day in Kathmandu and a chance to buy gifts or to visit some of the temples that you may have missed at the start of the trip. Alternatively, you may prefer to simply relax by the pool or on the terrace at the Summit Hotel.
Day 21: Fly Kathmandu to London
Our scheduled flight back to the UK arrives in London Heathrow early evening.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary, but as this is adventure travel in a remote mountain region, we cannot guarantee it! Weather conditions, availability of porters and the health of team members can all contribute to changes. The guides and their Sherpa assistants will try to ensure that the trip runs according to plan, but please be prepared to be flexible if necessary.
Our expeditions are led by very experienced mountain leaders. In selecting suitable leaders, our prime concern is that they have an excellent personal track-record of climbing at high altitudes.
The trek will be led by an experienced Jagged Globe appointed trek leader. In selecting suitable leaders, we not only look to ensure that they have the relevant qualifications but we also ensure that they have a good track record of trekking at high altitudes. Whilst qualifications and experience are essential requirements, we also make sure that our leaders have the right temperament to lead an trek group comprised of individuals who have a range of previous experience and expectations. The leader is a vital contributor to the enjoyment and well-being of the trekking members and he or she will be there to deal with any unexpected problems. To that end, we aim to provide a leader who will make the trek both successful and enjoyable throughout.
Our leaders hold current mountain first aid certificates and have experience of dealing with mountain related medical conditions.
The leader will be supported by one of our excellent Sherpa guides and cook team, who know the region very well. Our local porters will carry your personal gear.ep descent to Marpha and a return to Pokhara, either via the Kali Gandaki valley or over the Ghorepani ridge for concluding views of the entire Dhaulagiri massif; rounding of the conclusions of an adventure enjoyed to the hilt.This is a pretty strenuous trek that takes you into high country through forest with dense foliage and culminates on to a trail that continues on snow and shimmering glaciers. Separated from the Annapurna region by the Kali Gandaki, the Dhaulagiri massif includes more than 30 peaks over 6000 meters, eight of these surpassing 8000 meters. This is a long, difficult trek around Dhaulagiri (8167m.) that starts from Beni on the Kali Gandaki. Follow the Myagdi Khola westwards to Darbang and turn north on a tiny trail that leads through forests into the high country. Much of the route is on snow and glaciers as it crosses the French Col (5240m.), traversing the head of Hidden Valley and also cuts across the 5155m Dhampus Pass. The trek ends with a ste