Traverse of Dolpo (July 10-24, 2012)
My initial plan for this trip was to cross the northern part of Dolpo from the Mugu airport near Rara Lake to Jomson in Lower Mustang. However, several circumstances led me to change this plan. First, Mugu airport unexpectedly closed for maintenance soon before my trip, forcing me to start from the small town of Jumla (located a few hiking days south of Mugu airport) instead. Then, on my way from Kathmandu to Jumla, I got stuck at Nepalgunj′s airport (South Nepal) for several days due to bad monsoon weather. I eventually shared a helicopter with local travelers to reach Jumla. From Jumla, I had still hoped to connect to the initially planned itinerary by following the Chaudhabis Khola from Matachaur toward Dolphu. But lack of time and more bad weather dashed this hope, forcing me to settle for a shorter itinerary. This was a disappointment, but I had not allocated enough time for this trip, nor had I picked the most favorable time period to travel, although Dolpo is supposed to be somewhat shielded from monsoon rains. The only good thing of traveling in July is that temperatures stay mild. Even the highest passes above 5000m are free of snow.
During this trip, I was accompanied by an excellent team of 4 porters led by Dawa (at the center on the photo below). The two porters on the left, Tshering and Kabirajhaba, had already traveled with me in the spring of 2011. As usual, the logistics for this trip had been arranged by Ang Karma Sherpa′s Windhorse Trekking.
A sketch of our final itinerary is shown below in plain red line. Dotted lines in black represent other trails. Thick black dots mark village locations. Passes are indicated in blue. The segment between Hurikot and Maduwa coincides with the one I had taken in 2008 to cross Nepal. We left Jumla on July 10 and we reached Kagbeni 14 days later on July 23. A 2-hour walk on July 24 led us to Jomson. Between July 15 and 21, we crossed 7 (easy) passes above 5000m, the first being Kagmara La and the last Jungben La, in 7 consecutive days.
Click the links below to access photos of the successive sections.
― Section 1: Nepalgunj to Matachaur
― Section 2: Matachaur to Tibetan camp above Maduwa
― Section 3: Crossing Bagala La and Numala La
― Section 4: Dho Tarap Valley
― Section 5: Maran to Chharka Bhot
― Section 6: Chharka Bhot to Jomson