WE had arranged for five Sherpas under their Sirdar Nima Chhotar, who flew ahead to Pokhara to gather ten porters— all fine carriers. Mike Cheney and Col. Roberts had given us considerable advice and assistance.

The original plan was to go around Dhaula I either by going up the Myangdi Khola from the south and east, cross the 6 French Pass' into the Hidden Valley and return over the Dhampus Pass into and through the Kali Gandaki, or trek the same route in the opposite direction. At Pokhara, just before embarking, we chose the latter alternative with the proviso that if the route past the Dhampus proved awkward we would return the same way—this was in fact what we had to do.

15 October

Up by 6.30 a.m.—breakfast by 7 a.m. and the porters surprisingly are on time. While they sort out their loads a mother and father of a rain shower gives us an auspicious start.

Lunch at Hyangia, a shady village—the onward march for a mile or two being through an avenue of trees—a balmy breeze lessening the discomfort of the first day's work-out. Soon we weave through rice fields ; here there is no shade and we march through green fields to camp at Suikhet. We camp in a harvested rice field and soon realize that rice fields are not meant to drain out water—another downpour of rain and trenches have quickly to be dug—not so auspicious now. Early bed and almost an instantaneous blank-out!

16 October

Immediately from Suikhet we climb—at first it's a grind with nothing to relieve one's aching muscles ; after about two hours one gets the magnificent glimpse of Annapurna II and IV, then of Machhapuchhare and Annapurna South. What a magnificent panorama it makes from Naudanda to Khare! We lunch at Khare and then after a mile or so (to Chandrakot) we drop a few thousand murderous feet to Birethanti—knees nearly folding up. We camp at the river just below the bridge.

17 October

An easy march to Tirkhe where we lunch. Then a steep climb of 3,000 feet to Ulleri, straight up—reach the school house where we spend a comfortable night, free from the restrictions of the tents.

18 October

The upward grind continues to Ghorapani (at 9,300 ft.). We lunch in a clearing near the top—delightful spot with running water at hand. Sweaty clothes are dried and after an hour we push upwards towards the thickly wooded pass. The descent to Sikha—3,000 feet of steps—even worse than climbing up! We camp in a clearing behind the school. Windy night and we had to face our tents the wrong way—the funnel effect in this part of the valley causes a south to north flow of air—this we realize too late.

19 October

The previous night's cloud cover has disappeared and a magnificent view of Dhaulagiri I and Tukche presents itself—what a mountain—shooting up from the darkness below to touch the heavens. We have this glorious picture as we descend to Tatopani which we reach by 10.30 a.m. A stampede to strip and wash- lazy morning and afternoon and the sun shines obligingly all day. Tatopani has considerable shopping potential—condensed milk, shoes, Chinese toys and printed cloth. A most restful day.

20 October

A long day. Dana reached by 10 a.m. or so in an easy walk and we lunch by the river—the Kali Gandaki now looks awesome —what a terrific track from Dana to Ghasa—spectacular cut-aways and steps made into sheer rock—and then suddenly we come to a beautiful three-step waterfall running water-mills. Generally good housekeeping in the villages—lizards and a goodly collection of birds and flowers—no naturalist amongst us but Fred, Meheru and Hari have enough of arguments over identification.

Ghasa is reached at 2.30 p.m. and we share the only decent camping ground with a mule train that munches grass all night— ah well, they were there first!

21 October

One of the highlights of the trek—glorious views of Dhaula 1 and Tukche from Ghasa to Lete. Then as we approach Kalapani we are greeted by the Nilgiris and Annapurna I. What a lovely place Kalapani is—we lunch in a clearing amongst pine trees and seep in the scenery. Reluctantly we continue to Larjung and reach our billet just as a miserable drizzle starts. The Larjung 4 main street' is one long portico—houses on either side and on top— a variety of dwelling and storage rooms. We were comfortably ensconced on the first floor while the porters took their shelter down below where the Rakshi flowed more freely.

22 October

A short day. We are in Tukche in an hour's time where we have our brunch at leisure and proceed to Chhairo. After Tukche the valley takes on an increasingly stern aspect. Vegetation is stunted and sparse. Wind and dust increase, mountain sides become bare and greenery all but disappears. Chhairo is wind¬swept—we turn down the offer of a billet and protection for the cleaner surroundings of a nearby field. A Tibetan colony neighbours close by—they are building a hospital—frustratingly attentive audience to anything we do.

23 October

A short march to Marpha and then straight up 4,000 feet in the space of about two or three miles towards the Dhampus Pass. A cruel climb—certainly the worst so far. We finally reach a yak pasturage at about 12,500 feet. Opposite us to the east glow the Nilgiris in a pinkish twilight.

24 October

A day of rest and acclimatizing. Fred, Hari and I along with Nima Chhotar and Kachari go up the ridge to have a panoramic view of the surroundings. We can see the river widening at Jomosum. The peaks east of us are bare and brown with small white caps (the snow level must be pretty high with all that brilliant weather we have been having). Fred and Nima Chhotar climb Pt. 16,102 feet from there—it is roughly NW. from our camp—a good achievement—the last few hundred feet are just loose shale.

25 October

Another day of rest since Jock still has not quite overcome the altitude sickness.

26 October

A most pleasant stroll up and down a bit but all the time look¬ing at the magnificent north-eastern aspects of Tukche and Dhaulagiri I. That night we camp with our kitchen under a huge rock overhang. The tents are pitched slightly higher up on a slightly exposed slope.

27 October

It could now be the effect of altitude or it could just be that it was a murderous grind in its own right—however you look at it, it was certainly the most prolonged upward haul to within strolling distance of the Dhampus Pass. The pass itself is, a gentle hog s back and we camped about 50 vertical feet below it and a mere 200 yards away. The porters are really a gallant lot- braving a snowy and icy path (on borrowed clothing and footwear —rather inadequate I'm afraid) and finally camping in an exposed windswept ground fortunately free from snow.
An evening s stroll up the pass—we peep into the Hidden Valley —most interesting—full of prospects and promise—alas, we only dream!
In the night Meheru collapses with fatigue and panics— psychological oxygen and coramine are administered and she recovers remarkably—that episode is over and she awakes next morning full of beans and is good-naturedly, reprimanded for her hysterics.

28 October

Not so Jock who has been affected by the altitude and is a bit glassy-eyed with lack of oxygen—ironically it was Fred and he who had worked the oxygen gadget for Meheru the previous evening. Now we must descend immediately—so here we are back at the rock camp just as sleet and rain come down in the form of a minor storm. Up at the Dhampus there's a blizzard raging and had we been there our porters would have suffered considerably—out of bad sometimes comes some good.

29 October

The long and straight descent to Tukche—this time we take a more direct route which we had avoided on the way up. Here again we billet in Sherpa Lakhpa's residence just as a fine drizzle heralds the break in the weather. We later learn from the success¬ful Japanese Dhaula I expedition that the Dhampus route is closed and that their remaining members have to fight their way back through the Myangdi Khola—how would we have fared had we been in the Hidden Valley ?

30 October

Time is running short for Meheru and myself and the other three want to attempt Pt. 17,262 feet on the south-eastern arm of Dhaula I and have a closer look at the mighty East Icefall which claimed the Americans last year. We have to split forces—three porters and Kachari accompany us back to Pokhara and the remaining personnel embark on a fresh adventure ; I now quote Jock's brief account.

30 October

Leave Tukche and camp half-way between Larjung and Kala- pani, not very high above the valley floor.

31 October

About hours of very steep trekking up to a place below the icefall which is hidden in mist.

1 November

Icefall, a tremendous sight—but nothing to gauge how big it is (half a mile wide one mile)—we have to do some scrambling to get right up to the foot of it. Magnificent evening views of Annapurna I.

2 November

Nima Chhotar, Fred and myself leave at 6.15 a.m. for an attempt on White Peak (17,262 ft.). Attempt unsuccessful as snow very soft and we sink in up to the knees. However, we do make the summit ridge, of which White Peak is a part. Come down roped after lunch. Fred in snow up to the waist at times. Must admit that Nima led all the way (he is as strong as an ox) and we could not have got to the ridge without him. On return Fred as fit as a fiddle, self chronically exhausted but get to bed with a bottle of brandy (the end of three years without a drink).

3 November

Down to Kalapani—a very steep track in parts—camp in the pine woods.

4 November

Lunch at the big waterfall. Just as we leave for Dana, we look back to witness a huge landslide—almost as if the slabs were being dynamited. It lasted intermittently for about half an hour. We go back some distance and meet a caravan—they say that the stones had simply passed over their heads into the river—a miraculous position. We camp that night at Dana.

5 November

Camp at Sikha.

6 November

Stay at Ulleri.

7 November

On the way to Chandrakot meet Eric Shipton leading a Cook's Tour up the Valley.

8 November

Meet the French team of Chamonix guides returning from their successful climb of the formidable south face of Annapurna South. Camp at Hyangia.

9 November

Arrive Pokhara—camp at the lake.

None of us would have missed the trip—perhaps we would think of doing things differently had we another chance.

I am sure that as far as treks go this has certainly been one of the happiest and the most glorious from the high mountain scenery point of view. More than anything, the companionship and the wonderful feeling of knowing that one's friends stood the acid test of high-altitude compatibility—a compliment which the climbing fraternity appreciates only too well.

Members: Fred Snowden, Jock Henty, Hari Pargal, Meheru Mehta and Soli Mehta.

Sherpas: Nima Chhotar (Sirdar), Kachari, Nima Tchering, Sultim Temba and Ang Gyalbu.

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