The South East Face of Dhaulagiri above the Kali Gandaki Gorge

Dhaulagiri Himalaya Nepal

The Dhaulagiri Himalaya in western-central Nepal extends for nearly 120 km and rises to no less than thirteen separate summits over 7,000 metres. It is bounded on the east by the Kali Gandaki Valley, to the north and southwest by tributaries of the Bheri River, and on the southeast by the Myagdi Khola. Dhaulagiri 1 is the seventh highest mountain in the world at 8,167 metres (26,795 ft) above sea level, and the highest mountain standing entirely within the borders of Nepal. It was first climbed in 1960 by a joint Swiss/Austrian/Nepali expedition.

The mountain’s Nepali name comes from the Sanskrit where “dhawala” means dazzling white and “giri” means mountain. This description is particularly justified when the mountain is viewed from the Annapurna range to the south-east across the great defile of the Kali Gandaki gorge, from which it rises a full 7,000 metres in a gradient unequalled elsewhere in the country. The south and west faces rise also rise precipitously, over 4000 metres from the Myagdi Khola Valley. The south face of Gurja Himal in the same massif is also notably immense. Being located entirely within the borders of Nepal makes it possible to make a complete circumnavigation of the entire Dhaulagiri massif starting and finishing in the town of Pokhara.

The circuit of the Dhaulagiri Himalaya is one of the most challenging trekking routes in all of Nepal. Carried out in a clockwise direction it entails the steady ascent of the Myagdi Khola river to its source on the Chonbardan Glacier, overlooked on one side by the great north-west face of Dhaulagiri 1 and on the other by a wall of 7,500 metre summits including Dhaulagiris 2,3 and 5. There then follows a committing crossing of two passes – French Pass, 5,360 metres, and Damphus, or Thapa Pass, 5,250 metres. Between these two passes is a vast, uninhabited and remote area bounded by Sita Chuchura, 6,611 metres, to the west and the Mukut Himal, 6,556 metres, to the north, known as ‘Hidden Valley’. The summit of Damphus Pass offers superb views across the Kali Gandaki towards the Annapurna and Nilgiri Peaks and it is from here that one descends a full 2,500 metres to the village of Marpha in the Kali Gandaki valley before the final homeward crossing over the Poon Hill ridge at Ghorapani.

The Kali Gandaki Valley near Beni
The Kali Gandaki Valley near Beni
The Kali Gandaki Valley at Baglung
The Kali Gandaki Valley at Baglung
The Kali Gandaki Valley at Baglung
The Kali Gandaki Valley at Baglung
Sunset on Gurja Himal
Sunset on Gurja Himal
Gurja Himal from Dharapani
Gurja Himal from Dharapani
Gurja Himal from Dharapani
Gurja Himal from Dharapani
Gurja Himal from Dharapani
Gurja Himal from Dharapani
Dhaulagiri 1 from The Myagdi Khola Valley
Dhaulagiri 1 from The Myagdi Khola Valley
Tsaurabong Peak from the approach to Puchhar
Tsaurabong Peak from the approach to Puchhar
Sita Chuchura from the Gorge of the Myagdi Khola
Sita Chuchura from the Gorge of the Myagdi Khola
Entering the Gorge of the Myagdi Khola
Entering the Gorge of the Myagdi Khola
Dhaulagiri from the Gorge of the Myagdi Khola
Dhaulagiri from the Gorge of the Myagdi Khola
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from the Chhonbadarn Glacier
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from the Chhonbadarn Glacier
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from Base Camp
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from Base Camp
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from Base Camp
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from Base Camp
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from the Chhonbadarn Glacier
Dhaulagiri 2 and 3 from the Chhonbadarn Glacier
Dhaulagiri 1 from Base Camp on the Chhonbadarn Glacier
Dhaulagiri 1 from Base Camp on the Chhonbadarn Glacier
Dhaulagiri 1 from the ascent to French Pass
Dhaulagiri 1 from the ascent to French Pass
Final Ascent to French Pass
Final Ascent to French Pass
West wall of Dhaulagiri from Puchhar
West wall of Dhaulagiri from Puchhar
Sunrise and Moonset on Dhaulagiri 2
Sunrise and Moonset on Dhaulagiri 2
Dhaulagiri 1 from French Pass
Dhaulagiri 1 from French Pass
Hidden Valley from French Pass
Hidden Valley from French Pass
Hidden Valley with the Mukut Himal Beyond
Hidden Valley with the Mukut Himal Beyond
Crossing Dhamphus Pass with Sita Chuchura Beyond
Crossing Dhamphus Pass with Sita Chuchura Beyond
Tukuche Peak from Damphus Pass
Tukuche Peak from Damphus Pass
The Kali Gandaki Valley from Damphus Pass
The Kali Gandaki Valley from Damphus Pass
Dhaulagiri from the Kali Gandaki Valley
Dhaulagiri from the Kali Gandaki Valley
Sunrise on Dhaulagiri 1
Sunrise on Dhaulagiri 1
Dhaulagiri 1 from Poon Hill Ghorepani
Dhaulagiri 1 from Poon Hill Ghorepani
Sunrise on Dhaulagiri 1
Sunrise on Dhaulagiri 1
Dhaulagiri 1 from Poon Hill Ghorepani
Dhaulagiri 1 from Poon Hill Ghorepani