Tuesday 16 December 2014

Day 181: Dolpo day 12 - Dhaulagiri

The unmistakable dome of Dhaulagiri:
head and shoulders above the surrounding hills!
An hour's plod from wolf camp brought us to the top of our final thousand metre pass.  Today's uphill distraction was the search for an alliterative title for Tony's Dolpo film.  How about Dusty Dolpo?  Dolpo by Donkey?  Devouring Dilli's Dal Bhat in Dusty Dolpo?  Devouring Dilli's Dhal Bhat in Dusty Dolpo with Dolbadu's Donkeys?  The possibilities were endless.

When we reached the pass, Dhaulagiri awaited us.  The seventh highest mountain in the world is unmistakeable because it rises sheer above its surroundings.  To the right, its imaginatively-named sub-summits lined up: Dhaulagiri Two, Three, Four and Five!  And the usual foliage of brightly-coloured fabric, bearing the Tibetan blessing 'Om mani padme hum', framed the shot.

The view could not have contrasted more sharply with the brown tapestry of the Tibetan plateau that we had seen from the previous pass.  That one relied for its beauty on its scope - hundreds of pinnacles jutting from the desert - while this one focused on the single majestic crown of Dhaulagiri, a white cone denting the sky.  Click, click, click.

Pamela and the Chang Express arrived
shortly after Susan, Nigel and myself
We waited an hour for Tony then took group photos on the summit.  We showed Uttam how to take photographs with a camera worth more than his annual income, without cutting off the feet of the subjects.  Then cake was eaten, layers donned, sweets consumed.  I danced a brief but gleeful jig.

From here the route lay downwards to our campsite, which was already sprouting in a windy spot high on the slopes of the pass.  But the beauty of reaching a high point is that you get the chance to descend to warmer climes afterwards.  We shook our heads at the camping spot and plodded on, while the donkey drivers re-packed their bags behind us.

As it turned out, the campsite lower down the valley, in Tokyu, wasn't much warmer, but at least it lay in the zone of agriculture and picturesque villages and the scent of hardy shrubs blowing in the breeze.  This time we nodded to the donkey drivers.  We could camp here.

Group shot... we're only missing Tony!
Our first sight of Dhaulagiri from the pass
Susan, Guy, Krishna, Nigel and Tony
Strong winds as usual... 
The wide valley marking our descent with Dhaulagiri framed to the south 
Scree fans formed an interesting pattern on the surrounding mountains
The large-scale geological structures on display. Is the low angled fault in the hillside
at the back an indication that we are nearing the South Tibetan detachment fault system? 
Thoughts of geology turned to food as we neared town.
The massive chorten on the left dwarfs the yaks grazing nearby.
On closer inspection, the rear half had collapsed!

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