Technical details of the day
Hiking duration: 6 h 35 min
Cumulative Ascend Value: 690 m
Cumulative Descend Value: 223 m
Map of the day
Curve of difference in heights
Details of the day
This morning because of wind, we were not sure if we should leave and continue our progress toward the Hidden Valley or if we should stay another day at the foot of Dhaulagiri until the wind gets wear off. Indeed, the Hidden Valley is a region famous for being very windy and extremely cold (-15 ° C, -25 C °). So with the wind that we had at the level of Dhaulagiri we feared the worst in the Hidden Valley but also along of path. Progress was already hard with good weather because of the altitude but if we should had to walk around 5000m with the wind against us, there would not be easy.
Around 9 o’clock, the wind was not yet calm but we decided anyway to pack our stuff and fold the tent to go to our next step: reach the French pass (the highest point of the trek) and put the tent in the the Hidden Valley.
The bag on the back, we left the base camp by telling us that the day would be very very hard. But what was not our surprise when 1 km after we left the camp there was no more wind! In fact, the Tukuche peak protects us of wind. The wind at the base camp seemed to go down directly from the pass between the Tukuche and the Dhaulagiri montains.
It was a good new: the walking day could really begin. After a short walk between Tukuche and Sita Chuchura we arrived at the bottom of a steep ascent. More than 4800m, we are at the level of the Mont Blanc. It is exhilarating to say that we will go higher than the highest of our French mountains. At the top of this climb, we did not see cairn. To find the next cairn, we had to look up at the level the ledge: “again a hell of a climb”. once on the ledge, we were reassured: the ledge is very wide. We followed this path for many kilometers.
Our progress on the ledge was very slow and seemed endless: we felt the lack of oxygen and we had to take a rest every 5 minutes to catch our breath.
We often looked back to see Dhaulagiri which disappearing slowly but which was always so majestic.
At first we thought we could stop at the level of the French Pass to lunch but after few hours of walking and a lot of stops, we decided to land on the ledge to make this welcomming break.
When we arrived at the last cairn of the ledge, we realized that we were going to regret having left the base camp so late. Indeed, until now the path was not too covered with snow and progression was not too exhausting. The path to go from the ledge to the French Pass was less easier because it was extremely snowy and a physical effort was necessary to reach to the goal. It was time for us to put our GoreTex pants.
We had to cross this passage to climb to the French Pass. Leaving too late, the sun has had its effect : the snow did not resisted beneath our feet and we sank to the knees (or worse) at every step.
The final meters were really hard. There were a whole series of cairns, one after another. We then saw the prayer flags and we exulted. This ascent was terrible but we did it. And what about the view: It was really the apotheosis of the trek! In one word: Wonderful! On one side the Dhaulagiri, in the other side the Hidden Valley.
It’s like being alone in the world and we would spend hours contemplating the landscape. Unfortunately, it is already late and we must quickly get back on the way to reach the base camp and set up the tent before the night.
We made the descent on the icy snow because this side was already in the shade. We decided to put on our crampons because even if it was not really necessary and that we could move forward in walking shoes, the crampons helped us to walk faster on icy snow and above all we did not carried them for anything !
The descent was a real pleasure compared to the rise. We even almost ran. Finally, we arrived at the Hidden Valley base camp! As usual it is recognizable thanks to wicker baskets. By cons, here there are no walls.
The sun had already disappeared behind the mountains. We quickly assembled the tent and even though we had no wind at the moment we took the time to hang it firmly in anticipation of the night.
To prepare food, no other solution than melt snow. We put several hours to get enough water.
The meal … it were not be the best of our trek. Because of the cold, waiting few minutes until the lyophilized rehydrate, it was already too long. The food was cold! Bon Appetit!
After lunch, we entered fast in our tent andour sleeping bags to warm us and we hoped that the wind would not rise.
Luckily for us the wind had not appeared this night nor the other days. We were really lucky!
The objective of tomorrow: walk to the Thapa Pass and arrive at Marfa, which is the end point of our trek.
Pictures of the day