Dhaulagiri Himal, Nepal-1994

 

When my favorite guide Bruce Klepinger of Ibex Expeditions announced that he was leading a trip around the Dhaualgiri Himal in 1994, I jumped on the opportunity to travel in an area that had been closed to trekkers for many years. This 8000 meter peak lies just west of Annapurnna in Nepal.

The plan was to fly from Idaho to LA with a stopover in S. Korea, then to Bangkok where I was to transfer a flight to Kathmandu. Well as I already knew, the most difficult part of adventure travel is dealing with the transportation. And Thai Airways did not disappoint. We had a mechanical problem which delayed our arrival into S. Korea. That required that we spend the night there because if you take off at night, apparently the N. Koreans will shoot down the plane.

So I missed my connection to Kathmandu. And there was no flight the next day because the King of Nepal was taking the plane to Paris. And there was no flight scheduled the next day. So three days later, I landed in Nepal to find that my trekking party was three days down the trail.

Luckily for me, they had left a small party of porters, cooks and guides for me and another woman, Pat, who was on my plane. With the belated start, we were off to try to make up time, catch the others and enjoy our own private trek. We flew into Pokhara and drove by bus to Pharse where we began our trek to Beni along the Kali Gandaki River.

My only previous time in Nepal had been to trek to Kala Patar in the Khumbu or Everest Region where we were at high altitudes the entire time. This trek was very different. We began our trek through warm, humid climes, with rice fields and waterfalls. Beautiful flowers and lush vegetation adorned the hillsides.

I found that my clothing was too warm and decided that I needed to "go native" and got a skirt made for me. The Nepalis are very modest and it would have been considered impolite for me to wear shorts. ANd a skirt was much cooler than my long pants. Pat and I bought fabric and paid a nickel each to have the skirts made which consisted of having them sewn into a circle. 

 

We then asked the Sherpanis (female Sherpas) to teach us how to fold and tie them. I never quite mastered it and had to call one of them into my tent every morning to get help me get dressed. They were very amused at my ineptitude. But I thought it the height of fashion with my hiking boots!

After a camp in Tatopani, Dharapani and Khipang along the western side of the Dharulagiri Massif, we caught up with the rest of the group. We were proud that in three days we accomplished what they had hiked in five days. I suspect that they were purposefully hiking slower to allow us to catch up.

Once we gathered forces with the rest of the group, we left the colorful villages and began climbing in earnest. The trails became more rugged. Sometimes the trails were just branches roped to the sides of a cliff.

 

Most of the route was on a glacier. A lot of the glacier was rock covered which disguised the ice.

 

Nevertheless, the views were stunning.

 

Our camp gear was carried entirely by porters. No animals were used. I believe the route was too difficult for animals.

On a "rest" day, I climbed up several thousand feet with guide Bruce up a valley wall to get better views. All day we could hear avalanches breaking off of the opposite wall.

One of our high passes "French Pass" was over 17,000' .

We camped in a beautiful valley just on the other side of the pass.

 

 

Giving us great susnset views of Dhaulagiri.

 

After the pass, we headed down toward Marpha back into the Kali Gandaki River Valley which is sometimes called the deepest canyon in the world. It is if you consider its sides to be the 8000 meter peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna.

 

Annapurna with the Nilgiris in the foreground as seen from Tharpa Pass.

 

 Another view of Annapurna from one of our camps where we took another well earned rest day.

After we got into the Kali Gandaki Valley we headed south along the Annapurna trail.

On another "rest" day we traced the steps of Maurice Herzog (the first person to climb an 8000 meter peak) up 5000' onto the lower shoulder of Annapurnato to grab some photos of Annapurna before the daily clouds came in.

 And one of my favorites from any trip-the children we met along the way.