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Thread: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

  1. #1
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    Default Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    As per title. I've been reading a bit about this trek recently and would absolutely love to give it a go at some point. I completed the AC last September and coped well with the altitude so I don't think that would be an issue. However, I have no experience with crampons, ropes etc. and worry that I'd be a bit out of my depth, even though I'd be part of an expedition.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    ABSOLUTELY. Do not even think about this trek unless you know what you are doing and have experience and support.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    Even if part of an expedition with a Sherpa etc.?

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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    There is no easy escape once you're high. If something happens (altitude problems or anything else) the only way out is walking a long and arduous walk. I have not done it.

    I read somewhere that Mera Peak, or Imja Tse are a walk in the park compared to Dhaulagiri Circuit. The writer may have been exagerating, I don't know, but you get the idea.

    By the way, not having altitude issues on one trek is no guarantee of imunity to the problem. Thre gradual ascent on the AC if you do it anticlowckwise certainly makes it less likely.
    yakshaver

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    Fair points. Better start off a little less ambitious

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    I haven't done the Dhaulagiri circuit but I'd like to, but I have done some mountaineering. I don't think anyone here has done it but I am not sure. You are only at high altitude for a short time on the AC so that doesn't really tell you very much. It is also quite cushy, there are loads of tea houses and it isn't very remote. As far as I've heard the thing with the DC is the continuous remoteness. What you have to cope with is day after day on difficult ground, bad paths and exposure. Camping every day, colder and less comfortable in a fairly extreme alpine environment. No habitation, all the logistics are harder and so on. Spending a few days camping in the wilderness and hiking tough terrain is one thing but doing it day after day for weeks is a completely different proposition. You need to be mentally tough as much as anything to put up with that sort of terrain for an extended period. You can easily escape that sort of grind on the AC whenever you stop and eat nice food and relax. Expedition camping in a tough environment is a completely different experience. Is that your sort of thing? I have no idea. You may love it or you may crack after a few days and think it was a bad idea. Personally I think ropes and crampons is a side issue. You can learn those things with a little bit of practice but it takes time and experience to build the mental toughness to cope with being tired and stressed from difficult hiking day after day.

    This is what Jamie McGuiness thinks of the trek http://www.project-himalaya.com/info...i-circuit.html
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Escher

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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by yakshaver
    I read somewhere that Mera Peak, or Imja Tse are a walk in the park compared to Dhaulagiri Circuit. The writer may have been exagerating, I don't know, but you get the idea.
    That sounds spot on to me. In my experience it's the multi day thing that splits the weak from the tough. I can handle day climbs or a couple of days. But the day after day grind and the thoughts of "why the hell am I doing this" are what get to you when you take on a tough prospect that takes several days or weeks. It isn't romantic. It is hard work both physically and mentally every day with very little break and it grinds you down. So Island Peak is up and down in a day - relatively easy. The DC however is three weeks of stressful remote trekking. Different thing altogether.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Escher

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by Escher
    I haven't done the Dhaulagiri circuit but I'd like to, but I have done some mountaineering. I don't think anyone here has done it but I am not sure. You are only at high altitude for a short time on the AC so that doesn't really tell you very much. It is also quite cushy, there are loads of tea houses and it isn't very remote. As far as I've heard the thing with the DC is the continuous remoteness. What you have to cope with is day after day on difficult ground, bad paths and exposure. Camping every day, colder and less comfortable in a fairly extreme alpine environment. No habitation, all the logistics are harder and so on. Spending a few days camping in the wilderness and hiking tough terrain is one thing but doing it day after day for weeks is a completely different proposition. You need to be mentally tough as much as anything to put up with that sort of terrain for an extended period. You can easily escape that sort of grind on the AC whenever you stop and eat nice food and relax. Expedition camping in a tough environment is a completely different experience. Is that your sort of thing? I have no idea. You may love it or you may crack after a few days and think it was a bad idea. Personally I think ropes and crampons is a side issue. You can learn those things with a little bit of practice but it takes time and experience to build the mental toughness to cope with being tired and stressed from difficult hiking day after day.

    This is what Jamie McGuiness thinks of the trek http://www.project-himalaya.com/info...i-circuit.html
    Sounds pretty intense all right. Any suggestions where I might get a shorter taste of this madness?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    Good stuff that Jamie McGuiness link. Thanks.
    yakshaver

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is Around Dhaulagiri dangerous for a person with no mountaineering experience?

    Here's another article by the same guy that I came across the other day:

    Taken from:
    http://www.project-himalaya.com/info...i-circuit.html
    Appalled Around Dhaulagiri

    by Jamie McGuinness

    Originally for the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal (TAAN) newsletter. They didn't print it.

    What is my favourite trek? Around Dhaulagiri is hard to beat. Hidden Valley and Dhaulagiri Base Camp are in such wild difficult terrain that you know mere mortals are not supposed to be there.

    Around Dhaulagiri has to be the toughest 'standard' commercial trek in Nepal. It is also one of the most dangerous. The truth is that many of the foreign companies who have jumped on the 'here's a new trek' bandwagon, and the trekking companies that are suddenly asked to take a group, have little idea about just what sort of trek this is. Most groups are not prepared for just how tough it is. We met one Australian group who had been told it was like the Annapurna Circuit. Incredibly everyone managed to finish it - just - but a number of them won't return to Nepal because the extreme nature of the trek put them off. A few loved it and will perhaps be mildly disappointed by their next trek.

    We watched another large group struggle up French Col. Some members were OK. Observing the others was heart-breaking. They plodded up, head hung down gasping 2 ragged breaths to every step. One looked so sick we wondered if he might die soon. And the sirdar had the cheek to say that everyone was fine and not suffering from the altitude.

    It isn't just tough on the members. Many porters are not prepared for the rough glacier walking and the intense cold. Some we met begged food, others only had one shoe left. Several gave up on the glacier, abandoning their loads and running back down.

    These sights appalled us but worse was to come on my next Circuit. A member of a big group mentioned one of their porter's was sleeping in the snow. He wasn't sleeping. He was dead. Within an hour we passed three more dead bodies. They had died of the cold. We also met a sirdar beating a porter who had collapsed. The boy was obviously not far off dying. We screamed sense into the sirdar, gave the load to a sherpa and instructed 2 members to look after the porter. Obviously the sirdar wasn't going to. Once past Dhaulagiri Base Camps one more porter was dead from altitude sickness. Everybody was appalled. A trek, a holiday for the foreigners is not worth people dying for. I am sure all of you would agree.

    Why is this trek so tough and dangerous? For those that haven't been, the standard trek begins from Baglung and goes via Darbang and Muri or sometimes Khibang to Boghara, the last village. From here the wilderness begins, first with a small difficult trail set is beautiful virgin forest. From the alpine grasses of Italy Base Camp the terrain becomes very rough. The route crosses a difficult rubble-covered glacier (fixed rope required) then after some rockfall danger climbs onto the main glacier. The hard-to-find trail traverses knife-edged ridges on loose rock where a slip would mean death. As the path roller-coasters up the scenery becomes unbelievably spectacular. Past Army Base Camp heading up French Col the trail eases then drops into Hidden Valley, broad and open with rich hued rocks and barely a blade of grass. Here, at 5000m it is perpetually cold, at least -15C in October and -20C in November at night. The only exit is Dhampus Pass leading to Marpha or Tukuche.

    To run a safe trek you must ensure the sirdar, a sherpa and a porter or two have been there at least a handful of times. Porters must be provided with warm pants and a jacket. They also ALL must have a wind-proof jacket. The sirdar should carry spare pairs of shoes. All crew must have a tent to sleep in (and 40 porters need more than one dining tent). They should also have 2 blankets at minimum and perhaps an extra tarpaulin. You need porters to be in top condition so YOU should provide them with fuel and food after leaving the last village. The reason is there is no firewood and they often don't take enough to eat, dangerously weakening themselves. The sirdar and a sherpa or two should have plastic or very strong leather boots.

    Does this sound over the top? If conditions are perfect, all these preparations will be just enough. If it snows you'll wish you had taken more. If this was raftable river, this route would have been closed as too dangerous for porters long ago.

    The last concern is altitude sickness. Every group I have seen has had some potentially dangerous AMS problems. Following the HRA acclimatization guide-lines would mean sleeping 3 more nights on the glacier (in addition to the standard 2 nights at Italy Base Camp) - basically impossible.

    Soon a foreigner will die up there from AMS. Diamox must be carried and used by most members and the best companies will take a Gamow bag, with a sirdar trained in its use. Many members and porters suffer altitude sickness on this trek.

    Absolutely the best option is to alter the itinerary to begin with the Annapurna Circuit then trek around Dhaulagiri in the opposite direction to standard. With everyone already acclimatized this is much safer, and means that most members will actually enjoy the trek.

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