Trip report for Dhaulagiri Circuit (Nepal) in April 2022

Written by Roland Hunter FRGS (Mt Everest and Mt Makalu summitter)
Written by Roland Hunter FRGS (Mt Everest and Mt Makalu summitter)Managing Director & Founder, The Mountain Company

In April 2022 we organised our 17th trek since 2005 around Dhaulagiri Circuit in Nepal. Our leaders for this group were Jason Day (UK) and Chandra Rai (Nepal). The assistant guides supporting the group were Dorjee, Bal and Jons Lama. Our cook was Arjun.

The group arrived in Kathmandu on April 17th and in the afternoon Jason, Chandra, and I gave the group briefing in the lovely gardens of Hotel Shanker (just across the road from Hotel Ambassador). It was fantastic to organise our first camping trek since the Covid pandemic! As I said in the briefing, we are very grateful for the support from our trekkers and for trusting us to run trips safely.

We implemented Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines. We requested that all trekkers self-test using an antigen rapid test kit for the first seven days of the trip. During this period we made an effort to keep the group physically distanced from each other before forming a “bubble” later on during the trip. 

On the next day, April 18th the group flew to Pokhara where they spent one night. On the morning of the 19th, they drove to the road head at Darbang and then walked to Dharapani for their first night’s camp.

The trek went as planned and fortunately, we had no Covid infection issues. There was one significant change to the route since our last pre-Covid trek in Autumn 2019. After leaving Italian Base Camp there has been a landslide at the start of Chonbarden Gorge. The route is now diverted further up the gorge before climbing up a rocky gulley to meet the trail near Swiss Base Camp. 

The group enjoyed meeting some of the climbers at Dhaulagiri Base Camp including the German mountaineer, Billi Bierling. On April 30th, all ten members of the group trekked over French Col at 5,360m into Hidden Valley. On the next day, unfortunately, the weather was snowy so in the end, they did not get the opportunity to explore Hidden Valley. However, the group took the time to rest up before the big day crossing Dhampus Pass on May 2nd.

The day crossing Dhampus Pass went well however the visibility was poor after mid-morning as the clouds rolled in. This is quite normal Spring weather where one gets clear mornings and cloudy afternoons sometimes with light snowfall. However as the temperatures are warmer in early May, snow does not settle and melts off quickly so there is no significant accumulation. There was some harder pack snow leftover from the winter and for these sections, crampons were needed for security. 

Jason sums up his experience leading this group as follows:

“This was a trek around the Dhaulagiri massif, crossing the French and Dhampus passes and spending time in the Hidden Valley. The trek ranged from the subtropical to high alpine biomes of the Himalayas, including beautiful views of Dhaulagiri 1 and 2, Tukuche West, and Nilgiri North, central, and south summits. The best part of the trip was the views on the two pass days, French Col just got better and better and then Lammergeiers arrived. I thoroughly enjoyed the changing scenery and the company.

The weather was as predicted for this time of year and the forecasts from Roland via satellite phone were useful. We had strong winds at Dhaulagiri Base Camp in the evenings, and snow at Hidden Valley. Fortunately, the heavier snow day was on an acclimatisation day, so although we couldn’t go and explore the valley everyone took that as a rest day before Dhampus pass. The Dhampus pass day had snow and lower visibility during the afternoon.

The trek crew worked extremely well together and I felt really supported as the international leader. It was the best food I have ever had on a trek, all dishes were well cooked and delivered.”

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 April 2022.

So far we have received one AITO Traveller Review from one member of the group as follows:

“A strenuous trek in a remote region of Nepal taking in Dhaulagiri Base Camp, French Pass (5360m), Hidden Valley and Dhampus Pass (5240m). This is a camping trek. The guiding, support and help provided by the Sirdar, international leader, sherpas, cook, kitchen staff and porters were superb and the scenery and views were fantastic. The Mountain Company and their staff provide a first-rate highly personal service and their treks are planned meticulously.” by Lrnc on 18th May 2022.

You can read all of our AITO Traveller Reviews received for our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek to find out feedback from our previous trekkers. 15 out of 15 of these reviews have been given an Excellent rating.

To find out 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 Jason, Chandra, Arjun,  Dorjee, Bal and Jons 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 October 2022 is already guaranteed to run and there are currently only two places available. Please get in touch soon if you like to join this group or our departures in 2023.

Trek on!