Jacek S. WalickiPolandPublished: Monday, November 30, -0001
Great Dolpa Traverse
With an outstanding support of an excellent Responsible Adventures team four of us trekked through Lower and Upper Dolpo. From landing at Juphal (Sep 24) to walking into Kagbeni (Oct 16) it took us 23 incredible days and 275 km of walking. We went around the Phoksundo Lake and then continued further north to SheyGompa, then east to Saldang, and finally turned south east to reach Santa (Shang Tak) and Phalyak. We camped fourteen nights above 4 thousand meters and crossed five high passes (above 5km) - Kang La (5340m), Sela La (5100m), Mo La (5030m), Niwar La (5130m) and Jungben La (5555m). In previous years we trekked around Manaslu/Annapurna, and to the bases of Kangchenjunga and Makalu. All wonderful and very scenic treks. We have also trekked twice in Ladakh (21 day trek last year). I mention this only to to compare this year trek with thoses others. Without much exaggeration trekking through lower and upper Dolpo (and a bit of Mustang) felt like going through Ladakh and Nepali valleys at the same time. It was also most demanding (physically and mentally) trek for me so far. Also the richest experience in terms of meeting locals and walking through isolated villages; some rather large like Saldang and ChharkaBhot. Still, there is no trekking infrastructure resembling that of Manaslu, Annapurna or Everest regions (there are homestays up to Ringmo/Phoksundo but not much after that, especially for a larger group). This is a “full camp trek”. Everything needs to be brought in - tents, full kitchen, food (including supplemental food for mules). Our team (under a watchful eye and direction from Raj) also took great care of taking all our trash out so that all our camping spots were left clean (and sometimes cleaner that we found them). That is why it is so important to work with a knowledgeable and experienced team like the Responsible Adventures. All this unique experience was possible because of fantastic support from Chandra, Dil, Sundar, and our “ponymen” Kaji and Bim; all under the leadership of Raj (owner of Responsible Adventures), of course. We timed it well too - probably more luck than any great design on our part - we had only a few drops or rain (and dusting of snow) the night before crossing the Kang La and then weather turned a bit more cloudy after we crossed Jungben La (with fresh dusting of snow visible above 5km). It was not as cold as I prepared for; however, it was quite windy during the second half of the trek, and more dusty than on any trek before. Plan and prepare for protecting your breathing, throat, and you shall be fine. And please trek so that you leave no trace.