Yeti - Thru Hikes

The Great Himalaya Trail Part 2 - Nepal

Dhaulagiri - Annapurna
The Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Himals are sub-ranges of the Himalayas in north-central Nepal. In terms of rise above local terrain, Dhaulagiri is, in fact, almost unparalleled in the world. The Kali Gandaki gorge, which separates the two massive ranges is especially dramatic since Dhaulagiri and Annapurna both stand near the river, giving a unique example of two Eight-thousanders facing each other over a deep valley. (Dhaulagiri I is 7th highest mountain in the world while Annapurna I is the 10th) This part of my Great Himalaya Trail is a combination of two known and existing routes. The Dhaulagiri circuit and the famous Annapurna circuit. Going over 3 mountain passes above 5200m, for 361 km.
Steep ascents and descents, fearsome high mountains, glaciers, gorges and rivers. In the Dhaulagiri part there are no tourists. You are alone with a few villagers to start with and then with the mountains. Route finding is on a regular basis and the weather can go insane in an hour.
Pictures              Technical Info

 
Journal
Pre-Days
October 2nd, 2009
Kathmandu. I'm back. It was really hard saying goodbye. I'm afraid of things to come. What does the future hold? 2 days of flights from Israel to Nepal. To begin my year round journey. I met some Israelis. One of them, Zion, wants to join me on the Dhaulagiri part. He appears a serious hiker. Maybe I'll change my plans so he can join my hike. I have some organizing to do. I feel weird.

October 4th, 2009
Tomorrow We're off. Starting the adventure. Maybe it already started and I just haven't noticed it. It has been annoying couple of days. We decided to take a local Sherpa named Dorje to assist us in the Dhaulagiri range. I hope it was a right decision. He looks a bit off. Zion and I didn't get along very well but after a serious talk We settled things and I hope it will be good from here on.

October 5th, 2009
Managed to get a taxi with a price of a bus ticket. Not the easiest of rides. The last part to Darbang was by a local "van". We are having some interesting talks. I'm very nervous and excited. This is it. No more games. I'm starting the Dhaulagiri part of the hike. No tourists in sight. This is going to be special. Sleeping in a local's house. They are noisy!
Dhaulagiri (धौलागिरी) - The White Mountain
October 6th, 2009
I have never seen so much rain in an hour. The monsoons are still here. We were soaking wet when We arrived at Darapani. We only started in mid day and the monsoons are just insane. Staying here in some local farmer's attic. A simple and nice family. Oh, man... I really hope the weather improves. I don't wanna give up this hike. Decided to wait even for two days for it to improve. I'm not giving up!
Days: 1. End: Darapani.

October 8th, 2009
After another day of heavy monsoons finally I woke up to bright and clear skies. Woke up to views out of this world. The Dhaulagiri range in all its glory. And this is only the beginning! We started hiking again. Joy! Hiked alone most of the day. Zion and Dorje are slow... The clouds built up in the afternoon. Oh well, mountains will be mountains. We're still staying in local houses. Actually a barn. With an insane rooster. I wanna kill that rooster. Maybe eat it. I'm sleeping on the floor. The rooster has a bed. Go figure. Dreaming about Dhaulagiri...
Days: 3. End: Muri.
October 10th, 2009
Going up the Myagdi khola (River). That's the main idea. Only in Nepal, going up means murderous ups and downs. We got beautiful days now. The monsoons are over. Just like that. Insane. So many waterfalls today. Huge waterfalls. 600-700 meters high. The Myagdi is a big big river. Coming down from the high ones its no wonder. They are driving me crazy with their pace. And Dorje is complaining all the time that he wants to go back. I wish he would just go back and that's it. I'm sick of him. I should ask him to pay me! Tomorrow We hit the snow line.
Days: 4. End: Doban.

October 11th, 2009
I am so pissed at Dorje! We got lost for real today and he doesn't give a crap on us. He can go to hell. We met several people coming back from the Italian base camp, telling us that there was an avalanche and that the Swiss base camp (an hour after the Italian) was wiped out. Looks like there is no way to go forward. We got to the Italian BC in late afternoon and found out that tomorrow morning some local climbers are planning to crack ropes over the saddle and down onto the glacier where the avalanche occurred and caused havoc. Could be that We have to go back. I'm upset. The clouds cleared in early evening and reviled an artwork of god. Dhaulagiri I, II, III and V. I'm just speechless. I hope We make in tomorrow.
Days: 5. End: Italian Base Camp.
October 12th, 2009
I'm now in my tarp. Buried under snow. I think. Have no idea. A snow storm hit just as We got to the Japanese BC. There is nothing here. Just a flat spot. I am not even sure this is the base camp. We got into the tents. No food. No nothing. Just wanted to hide. Zion is pissed at me. He thinks I'm not helping him in difficult situations. Maybe he is right. I just didn't think We had something serious. Just hard. We managed to get down to the glacier in the morning and discovered an incredible and scary chaotic icy world. Snow fields, moraines, and insane huge crests on both sides. In mid day We had some avalanches. Nothing happened but one was close. Big boulders came down from the crests. Zion is shook up from all this.  Oh man... this was a hard day. The altitude is starting to kick in. And Dorje.... God I hate him! We were just stranded on a cliff today and he just didn't give a crap. I hope tomorrow I can dig myself out. I'm eating dried noodles. Yuk. No way back now. I'm strong!
Days: 6. End: Japanese Base Camp.

October 13th, 2009
It was a very hard night. We were hungry. No water. In the morning I dug myself out with no real difficulties. Beautiful day. The strangest thing happened last night. Something scratched my tarp and kicked it! I was really scared. Maybe Yeti??? Only this morning I found footprints of a snow leopard. Incredible. We were weak and thirsty. The gas burner is out because of the storm. Can't melt snow for water. We got to Dhaulagiri BC in mid day and We met 2 insane Italian mountaineers that took pity on us and gave us a lot of food! Meat and cheese and all other goodies. I ate so much I puked after that. Too bad. They told us stories from camp 2 (7000m) on Dhaulagiri I. They were there in the storm. I saw the videos... They are insane. I feel much better now. Good night sleep and tomorrow to the hidden valley. The scenery is just beyond this world.
Days: 7. End: Dhaulagiri Base Camp.

October 14th, 2009
Cold... I'm so cold... I can't feel my toes. I can feel the fingers only on my right hand and that's because I'm writing... So cold. We got over French pass after hours of beautiful and long climb. I am weak. I'm hungry. The hidden valley is amazing but very windy and cold. So cold.... We are sleeping together in the same tent and sleeping bag to keep warm. We're afraid to fall asleep. We didn't sleep much last night as well. Starting late this morning (AGAIN!!) caused us to hike in a lot of soft snow and post hole a lot. Zion and Dorje are so slow. I'm going crazy. We have to get to the village of Marpha tomorrow. Its an extremely difficult task but We have to. We are so hungry. I'm cold.
Days: 8. End: Hidden Valley.

October 15th, 2009 
We are in Marpha. We made it. This was probably the hardest day since we started. We hardly slept last night. Started in a freezing weather. We could not get the feet into the shoes. So cold. Made it over Dhampus pass. Very slow. I was so weak and hungry. Then the view just stunned me. The Annapurna range was reviled. A few minutes of pure bliss changed to a complete white out. I couldn't see anything a meter ahead. Huge clouds coming from the Kali Gandaki gorge surrounded us. I kept on hiking on the crest. Tried to figure where to go. Very hard hike. In mid afternoon We got to the tree line and to Yak Kharka. We got water! I was so tired. We walked down the jungles for hours, because I was the only one with a head torch... God damn it! We got to Marpha at around 21:00, completely exhausted. I feel so alive! Tired but alive! This nice Nepalese woman took us into her guesthouse and gave us dinner. My face are on fire... What an insane trek! Messy, crazy and absolutely great! Now I need a break and to heal...
Days: 9. End: Marpha.
October 21st, 2009 
After that night in Marpha, I realized that my face is seriously burned and I need medication. In the days after, I took care of myself and got my strength back. I'm ready now to keep on going. Now its the Annapurna range. Now its vacation time. Zion and I said goodbye. He is nice. I hope he stays in touch. There are really disgusting people here in Pokhara. I can't wait to get back to hiking. Tomorrow. Hooray! I'm back in business. 
Days: 15. End: Pokhara.

Annapurna (अन्नपूर्णा) - Goddess of the Harvests
October 22nd, 2009
Simple hike along the Marsyangdi Khola. Very very easy. Only a few hours. I decided to hike in a touristic pace since I won't have time for another trek this time in Nepal. Can I be a tourist for 2 weeks? We'll see. I am walking with another Israeli. He is young and very slow. A lot... A LOT of Israelis and other tourists on this part of the Himalayas. This is like a damn highway. Oh... Where is my beloved desolate Dhaulagiri?......
Days: 16. End: N'gadi Bazar.

October 25th, 2009 
I miss something. The rush. The adrenaline. The Annapurna is a beautiful trek but I miss the wilderness and the insanity of Dhaulagiri. I've been hiking mostly alone during the day and in the evenings staying in guesthouses with this group of Israelis. Pretty hard to avoid the crowds here. They are ok. Some of the are actually nice. Love the nature. This trek is so so easy. I hardly feel I'm doing anything. Well.. Maybe the challenge will grow with the altitudes. I can see Manaslu and other white peaks. Nothing like the Himalayas! I ate 4 Dal Bhat in a contest with 2 annoying porters of one of the touristic groups. No one can challenge me with food. Even not the locals. 
Days: 19. End: Chame.

October 28th, 2009 
The days are passing by very fast. The trek is beautiful and so so easy. I am starting to realize that Nepal is ending soon. New Zealand is around the corner and it is a whole new and different world. A complete mystery. Will the Te Araroa be what I hope it will? I'm nervous and excited. I caught a bit of a cold and it looks like I'll be doing the classic route on the Annapurna. I guess its ok. You can't get it all, all the time. Hope Thorong La will be beautiful. I wanna hit the snow already! How many tourists can one person stand???
Days: 19. End: Braka (Near Manang).

October 31st, 2009 
Last few days were about gaining altitude and finally today I went over Thorong La. My last pass for this time in the Himalayas. On the pass, I looked to the west and I saw it. The Dhaulagiri range. I recognized the peaks by name, I saw Dhampus pass. I saw that monster I overcame just two weeks ago. All the dozens of tourists... just standing there looking on those "whitey peaks". They had no idea. No idea what the hell they looking at. Only I did. In my heart and soul. They were staring at my beast, my mountain. Oh my beloved Dhaulagiri..... I feel like being alone from now on. From here on I won't see many tourists. And good riddance!
Days: 22. End: Muktinath.

November 1st, 2009 
I'm here. I'm back. I'm in Marpha. The nice woman that took us in that night remembered me and my story. She calls me "Himal Ko Manche". I got a feeling she is teasing me.
I'm here now. Back again. To that night. I can see where I came from. The route coming out of the jungle. Down from Dhampus pass. Down from Dhaulagiri. I have shivers in my spine when I recall how I felt. I met some nice people here. Rodrigo and Loretta. She is really nice. Maybe I'll offer her to hike with me for the rest of the trek. 
Days: 23. End: Marpha.

November 5th, 2009 
Going down the Kali Gandaki gorge. Truck surfing with Loretta, hot springs in Tatopani. Last days were fun and beautiful. Not a lot of tourists. They all take buses and skip this. But now, standing here on the lookout on Poon hill. Here is where I stop. Here is were I got my closure. A panorama of the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges. All together in one shot. Cause I hiked my trek. My second Himalayas project. I was alone, at sunrise. All these people were passing by to catch a good spot on the lookout. I just found a spot. On the ridge. No person around. Just me and my mountains. They thought I was smiling towards them. No. I was smiling and staring. Only I knew why. Only I knew what it feels like. I was there. I was there on Dhampus pass staring at the Annapuna range. I was there on Thorong La staring back on the Dhaulagiri range. Today I got my closure. Today I got a my Nirvana. I'm done. 
Days: 27. End: Gorepani (Poon hill).
Last Thoughts
November 8th, 2009
A few days have passed. I am now on the bus to Kathmandu. Soon, I'll be in New Zealand for a completely different adventure. I can't really grasp yet, the feelings that run through my heart and the thoughts that race through my mind, after this Himalayas journey, that has just ended. My fearsome, beloved Himalayas. Am I really "Himal Ko Manche"? Am I really a Yeti? Maybe one day. I know and feel I'm transforming. I just don't really know yet to what.....
"In a hundred ages of the gods, I could not tell thee of the glories of the Himalayas..."
I'll be back. Soon. To Tillmans pass, the Tashi Labcha and the endless icy mountains. I'll be back....

Technical Info

Maps:
A general map and elevation profile of the whole trek. (According to the original plan of hiking). Recommended topographic maps are "Dhaulagiri Circuit" and "Around Annapurna". Can be obtained in Kathmandu. Although not the most accurate they give some idea about the topography.
    Dhaulagiri Section
    Water
    No problem of water sources along the Myagdi Khola. Close to the villages you should treat the water. Once you leave the Italian BC you will need to melt snow for water all the way till you reach the tree line again after Dhampus pass
    Food
    Along the Myagdi Khola, up until the Italian BC you can buy Dal Bhat, noodles and tea. From there all the way to Marpha and the Kali Gandaki you have to cook for yourselves. 
    Accommodation:
    Up to Doban there are locals that will take you in and even give you a bed and a blanket. Of course for a fee. From Italian BC and all the way to Marpha you are camping. Full gear for extreme alpine terrain is necessary.
    Prices
    For food the prices vary between 60-200 Rupees for Dal Bhat. Accommodation varies between 30-100 Rupees. You also need the ACAP permit for the trek and that is 2000 Rupees.1$~70 Rupees.
    Altitudes:
    It is very important to keep a steady pace of gaining elevation and I highly recommend taking a zero day in the Italian BC for acclimatization. From there you climb more than 1000m to the next camp and then 500m to the next one. It is a very high pace. Don't take any chances. In Dhaulagiri there is no help. Once you are there you're on your own. Take your time.
    A few notes regarding the route from the Italian BC to Marpha:
    • Start early every day. You don't wanna post hole for days. Also, avalanches start usually at around 11 AM. Huge boulders coming down fast. You don't wanna be in a danger area. And you'll see the danger areas. You're gaining altitudes pretty fast. Consider taking more breaks between my recommended camps. You got spots on the way.
    • You will be walking mostly on snow fields, ice and moraines. The route varies from bad to non-existent small rock piles that sort of try and mark a way (badly). You need to stay focus and make your route. You'll see the general direction that you need to take. Don't count on the maps for navigation. You need proper skills of making a route on your own for this. (Maybe you'll be lucky and you'll have footprints of someone else to follow). 
    • Once you get to the hidden valley try and find a place sheltered from winds. The winds there are ferocious. Getting of the route is not a big deal cause Dhampus pass is pretty obvious and straight forward visible. Don't hesitate.
    • There is a big problem once you are over Dhampus pass. You are at risk of a white out and you will just won't see nothing unless someone else walked there just before you did. You keep on the ridge north north-east for a long time. You start descending after a long stretch of a ridge walk. You need to take close care here. The descend is pretty steep and you won't see where exactly to go most of the time. It gets better fast cause you start seeing the tree line. Think before you move. You don't wanna be cliffed out.
    • Another source of info about this section is:
      Dhaulagiri circuit link
       
    This part of the trek is adventurous and though. You need good skills and a bit of luck. Like any other off the bitten high mountain route. If you do well, you'll get one of the most astonishing and exciting adventures the Himalayas have to offer. The scenery is just staggering and breath talking.

    Annapurna Section
    This part is a very touristic part of the Himalayas and Nepal. Tea houses all along the way offer you everything you could possibly want, sorry need, in the Himalayas. There is a lot of info on the web about this part. Prices are much higher of course. 

    Clickable Worldmap

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