Day 116: We are truly in Dolpo now

Posted on 22 Jun 2017

From our perched campsite our route the next morning wound its way up a steep steep face with some nice wee Nepali stonework across the odd gully.

Fab views were had from the pass including a sneak preview of the next day's climb up Jungben La. A quick few kms down from the pass got us to the river, lunch and camp for the afternoon.

Jungben La at ~5500m was a bit of a challenge for the newcomers but our fabulous crew got us up and over. We then dropped down along side Niwas La - the drainage divide between the Kali Gandaki and rivers flowing west - we were truly in Dolpo now.

The next day saw us descending along a spectacular valley with sandstone and limestone cliffs up high and almost continual landslide debris lower down, made for difficult walking at times. After a long morning we all made it to Chharka Bhot - lunch, camp and a rest day!

Our camp was by a sparklingly clear river and about ten minutes walk from the centuries old village. The next day and a half was spent doing washing, resting and hanging out with the local (mostly) woman at the shop. The town is at 4300m, pretty much above the tree line, but the shop did have one carefully cultivated bamboo tree for shade.

Refreshed we left the next morning and discovered a lot more to the village beyond the store with its shade and essential supplies. Duly explored, we left Chharka Bhot and wandered along above the river, thanks to a change in the rock type the landslide debris was soft under foot making for easy walking. After a bend in the river we were rewarded with views of a spectacular gorge and and equally stunning track which took us through the gorge to lunch by the river.

On the way to Chap Chu CampAfter lunch we continued down the river for a bit and while our mules crossed over a couple of times, we were directed up a steep wee track that got steeper and steeper, ending in some rock steps directing us into a narrow clift in rock - something out of Lord of the Rings perhaps? 20m of tight descent saw us popping out the other side and a brief hail storm.

A brief climb out of the river got us to Chap Chu, a herders camp and our camp for the night. As well as the usual fabulous scenery surrounding us, we were able to get a glimpse of the Dolpo herder's summer life grazing the animals, goats, sheep, horses, the odd cow and of course, yaks. A couple of mule trains also went through.

This morning we prepared for a longish day over Chan La. It was a long walk up a valley, steep at times, with a final brutal ascent up a couple of switchbacks to reach the top at ~5400m. The top was both very windy and spectacular so the length of time spent on top varied (as did the arrival times!). We are in the high mountains and the weather reminded us of this with brief but intense near horizontal hail as most of us were somewhere on the descent. We are now happily camped on a grassy flat-ish spot and looking forward to a easier day tomorrow including exploring Dho Tarap, on of Dolpo's larger towns.

Ian Matt Martin Brian Urda Naomi Adrienne Phaedra


PS Happy 60th Birthday Ian! We celebrated Ian's 60th birthday after we crossed Jungben La with a fruitcake that had been sent all the way from the UK. Ian continues to out walk us all despite reaching a new decade.

Ian's 60th birthday

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