Kevin Swains
Travel Website
This is Kev's Travel Blog
Dhaulagiri Circuit
Marpha Village, the starting point for my Dhaulagiri trek. The village is picture perfect
with a good selection of guest houses and apple pie and custard sold
everywhere. It's also jam packed with fat wallet, culturally unaware tourists 
and it seems every second shop is now selling imported "Tibetan", Chinese made 
TAT at greatly inflated prices. Every single kid also has a balloon given in return for
a photo of them. Now no tourist can walk around
town without a begging one pen/balloon/rupee/bon-bon kid on their tail. 
It's tourism out of control....leave only footprints....
My 1st nights camping on the Dhaulagiri trek at 4700m (N26.02.635 E084.09.182) . I thought it would take  
 me 2 days do reach here but I made a remarkable 2200m+ altitude gain in one day.
Shattered on arrival and freezing cold in the setting sun  and howling wind I dug a pit
in the snow and surrounded it with rocks to deflect the wind to enable me to cook.
It worked wonders and I even managed a few hours sleep with 14 more hours
spent in that bivvy bag.
Standing on the Dhampus pass looking towards the French Pass (N28.46.921 E083.30.915) 5359m.
towards the right-ish of the horizon with a good track feeding in from the bottom left.
Still being completely knackered from the previous day  made the climb through the soft snow
tedious. There is no way I wanted to spend  I wanted to spend a night camping up here
as temperatures are often -15 to -25C in November and white outs are common place.
Bivvying on the glacier with Dhaulagiri behind.  
(N28.45.587 E083.30.915)

At the base of Dhaulagiri  Mountain, the 7th highest mountain in the world at 8,167m
on the 3rd day of my trek. 
Heading down from the French Pass across the Dhaulagiri glacier. Glaciers are dangerous places to 
be alone on and my anxiety levels were at maximum crossing this one. It's huge and I didn't even know I
had a glacier crossing to do. I didn't even know if I was on the correct side of the glacier
or if it was possible to cross where I was.
I ran up and down everywhere trying to find a route across with many
backtracks involved.
Where are all the French tour groups when you need them? 
I was incredibly relieved to reach the  terminal morraine to reach relative safety only to see a small
rock fall crash down 100m in the front of me. It did cross my mind what I was doing there on more than 1 occasion!
A welcome sight on the 4th day, the most remote village on the trek. After the difficulty of the first 3 days I decided to
ration my supplies as I thought I would be way further down the trail and would now have another 4 days before I get
back to real civilization. They told me in this village that there is a shop in the next village in an hour or so but me being
me took a short cut and bypassed it so I pushed on hard eating on the go.
Then as the sun was setting I stumbled across a large trekking group making camp near a small hut/dhaba. It was incredible.
I got a space on the floor sleeping with the sherpas and Dhal-bhat for Rp150 (U$2) and it felt like the Hilton.
The guide asked me where I'd come from and I had to show him my photos and dates to make him believe me. Not even
the porters thought it could be done in 4 days. Then the guide told me I would finish the trek the next day as a road was
now only 4hrs away....I was left speechless and very relieved. 
My feet were suffering from some mangy infection and I was physically buggered. I slept little during the night thinking back
over the past 4 crazy days. Maybe days that change ones life kind-a-days? Pushing and pushing and never giving in. I kept thinking what
would have happened if it had snowed and the tracks got covered. What if I slipped or what if I was ill? I made no provisions
for any problems and I suppose if I did it again I wouldn't make any changes.