Friday, 16 January 2015

Trip report for Dhaulagiri Circuit led by Tom Lawson in October 2014

Photo: View to Dhaulagiri from Muri village
Our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek in October 2014 was led by Tom Lawson and Chandra Rai. Tom helped lead our DhaulagiriCircuit trek with his wife Jill Lawson for us back in April 2012 (read Trip Report). The Dhaulagiri Circuit group had all arrived to Kathmandu by October 5th and in the afternoon Tom gave his trek briefing at Hotel Ganjong.

On October 6th our Dhaulagiri Circuit group flew to Pokhara and drove by bus to Beni to start their trek, they arrived to their first camp in late afternoon. For the next week they trekked through the villages and up through the forest staying at Dobang and Sallaghari camps. They reached Italian Base Camp on October 12th.

On October 12th, I was on trek in the Makalu region and I received weather forecast from our office in London with an extreme weather warning as Cyclone Hudhud was tracking towards the Himalaya. A this stage Cyclone Hudhud was predicted to severely impact central Nepal especially Dhaulagiri region. I immediately contacted Tom via satellite phone to pass on this forecast and to warn him about venturing further beyond Italian Base Camp until the storm had passed through. The forecast was predicting 109cm of snow for Dhaulagiri region.

On October 13th the group went for a acclimatisation walk around Italian Base Camp and in the afternoon when everyone was back in camp the skies became cloudy and it started to rain. The next day on 14th the weather deteriorated as predicted and there was snow at Italian Base Camp and precipitation continued for 30 hours until 15th. As Italian Base Camp is at an altitude of 3,660m this was not too far above the snowline so there was less accumulation of snow however it was clear there was going to be a large amount settling on the ground higher up towards Dhaulagiri Base Camp and on French and Dhampus passes.

During the storm the group held at Italian Base Camp as this is located in a safe protected place. Whereas in the Chonbarden gorge on the way to main Dhaulagiri Base Camp there were many avalanches releasing the fresh snow that fell throughout this period. By the 17th, Tom and Chandra decided it was safe for the group to go for a foray to see if possible to move up to Glacier Camp however everyone was stopped from proceeding further due to the depth of the snow (up to chest level!). The group turned back and retraced their steps back to Italian Base Camp and walked to Beni then drove to Pokhara

For more information on Cyclone Hudhud I suggest you read The Mountain Company statement on Cyclone Hudhud and its impact on trekking in the Himalaya (October 2014)

The Mountain Company is planning to organise Dhaulagiri Circuit trek in April and October 2015 so please get in touch with us if you would like join one of these groups.

Roland Hunter