From Dolpo to Mugu, the ascent of Danphe Shail
“On the edge of Dolpo”: here is the presentation page of this rather special trip.
Danphe Shail or Ku Himal… Expedition 2017
Our story at Dolpo opens with this immense panorama from the top of Danphe Shail, which we have called Ku Himal.
Because it is really the mountain of Ku, a village at the end of the world, far north of Upper Dolpo.
Ku is a beautiful village, very secluded by the river and only accessible from above. But paradoxically, rather low in altitude with a pleasant climate and which allows beautiful cultures.
A detour that should / could be integrated into an Upper Dolpo itinerary, by agencies or requested by trekkers.
In short, a place to promote and visit …
Danphe Shail, The Ascension.
Beginning of October… Very high!
Rarely has an altitude camp been so comfortable to live.
We are almost 5800m on a spur between China and Nepal, just at the edge of the glacier, with running water and a superb view of the peaks of the Kanjiroba Himal and Upper Dolpo ranges. With even a little bit of Dhaulagiri.
About 300 m separates us from the summit and the weather is fine, without wind.
Tomorrow will be a great day of mountaineering…
For this first ascent of Danphe Shail. With everyone at the top.
In the tranquility of the tent, I savor all the pleasure of being so high, with my traveling companions and Dame Sonia.
The next day our ascent will be very serene, with a departure at the rising sun. Almost a formality… and nothing to tell.
The Nepali Team of mountaineers will even be there coming directly from base camp and we will be able to climb all together in small ropes of two. There is Dhan with Laurence, Bernard with Etienne, Jeff with Guru and Anil with Deepen.
Sonia will lead our party and without too much effort we will reach our summit.
Welcome between two worlds!
In the meantime, a small team of young porters has joined our altitude camp and after having collected the tents, it will not take them long to reach the base camp.
They are also the future mountaineers of our Nepali Leader team at Himalayan Travelers.
What ease in this particularly complicated terrain!
Yet getting so high has not been easy. We even almost turned around before we even reached base camp!
Danphe Shail, the approach.
From Ku, we first had to cross the Tora Khola by a beautiful ford!
And above all to go up the narrow valley of the Jyanglung Khola.
“For several hours, we left the village and went up the valley.
Finally the throat resounded with the bells of the mules, the hoarse cries and the shrill whistles of the mule drivers. The roar of the torrent reinforces the austerity of the place. However, at each rocky lock I imagine that we will be blocked by an even more difficult passage, impassable by mules.
But the mule drivers do wonders and sometimes redo a section of the trail. Then, the throat widens to facilitate our passage. Here we are at the 1st confluence where the Jyanglung Khola makes a sharp right angle.
On the alluvial shoulder, a large ledge will be an ideal camp. We are only at the beginning of the afternoon. maybe a little too early to stop, but I hope that this will spare the mules and mule drivers as well as our small band of climbers. We are not yet at base camp, although it seems to me that the great difficulties are behind us.
A little naively, I imagined finding on this trade route to Tibet, a well marked path and used regularly (by smugglers, for example).
But for more than 5 years no one has passed through there to go to China. There are other much simpler passes and the inhabitants of Ku only very rarely go up the valley to collect some wood and trunks for the frames.
The next day, indeed, the old path is better visible and everything is easier for the mules. There are even mani (Buddhist!) Walls, sheepfolds and great places to camp. Pastoral activity was to be important in this valley, but the closure of the border for the transhumance of yaks and the trans-Himalayan trade caused a deep agricultural decline. For us, the feeling of Wilderness is even stronger and tinged with a little nostalgia. “
Going up the valley towards the base camp, the kitchen team obviously has a water problem to solve. All the rivers are dry.
And we see no sign of the passage of Ian Wall’s team , who arrived very close to the summit two years ago during the monsoon. A weather problem just on the last day with snow at base camp and despite waiting for several days, no summit opportunity.
In the end, we will set up our base camp about an hour before Ian’s. Then, we will take the same ascent route, with a really unpleasant section of large boulders to reach our altitude camp.
A very Grobelian choice for an ideal smooth progression.
See also the complete topo of the ascent.
I can only invite you to go so far, far north of Dolpo, to visit this little summit at the end of the world. A pretext for a nice trip, necessarily a little off the beaten track, necessarily of significant duration and cost
To promote the village of Ku and the entire Karang slope, either to join Saldang to the south, or to go up the Pangsang valley towards Tilje.
Entrance to Dolpo and Mugu Rara by with directions by high passes and Niyma Gyalsen at 5664 m is one of the most beautiful treks in western Nepa l .
A page will necessarily be devoted to him and I bet that you will soon find him in Trek Mag, with the photos of Julien Fumard.
So YES, you absolutely have to go to Dolpo.
See you soon for the second episode of our adventures in Dolpo … with some religious trinkets and u do so Indiana Jones adventure that ends surprisingly.
Paulo_as usual from Himalayan Jawa Café in Boudhanath
KU village, again …
Credit Etienne Principaud