Day 11 Dhaulagiri Circuit - Dhaulagiri Base Camp - Rest Day

It's hard to exaggerate how much the temperature changes when the sunlight hits a particular spot. It's like a switch being turned and the transformation is almost instant. The temperature increase must be around 20 degrees and knowing when the sun is going to hit the campsite or the trail is an important piece of information.

Last night was particularly cold, minus five inside, and that and the fact that we are sleeping on ice made for a very cold tent. Despite that I had a good night's sleep helped I think by the Diamox. I'm taking half a tablet a day and the irregular breathing I suffered from on my last high altitude trip, known as Cheyne-Stokes respiration (according to my medical team) has not recurred.

Hanging around on the campsite gives you a chance to see the whole support team in one place. There are 26 people in all including 17 porters and 3 kitchen boys. Pemchhii is the lead Sherpa, the Sidr, and his No 2 is the cook Kacheman.  There are the 4 other Sherpas, Tenzing the most experienced, Rakes, and Pasangs 1 and 2.  It's a big team reflecting the fact that it's a camping trip, it's a long trip and high altitude and a lot of gear is being carried all the way around the Dhaulagiri circuit.

The Swiss Team on manoeuvres
The relationship with support team is definitely different when you have a European leader - it's not as close.  Jagged Globe has a much stronger climbing pedigree than the companies I usually go with and I guess on complex trips having someone to take responsibility for making sure everything works is essential.  This is clearly a complicated trek but generally speaking a Nepalese Leader means it's easier to find out what's going on.  It's the Nepalese team that in end ensure that we get around they really are the experts and there is no where else in the world where you can get the support you get in Nepal.  Having said that Pem, although incredibly experienced (numerous 8,000 metre plus ascents) is a shy, softly spoken guy and doesn't have the personality you usually associate with a leader.  Chris on the other hand does and although he doesn't always know what's happening (he has never been Dhaulagiri before) he does inspire confidence.

Memorial to climbers lost on Dhaulagiri
This morning we went for a short walk towards the French Col. I think everyone was reassured when they saw it. By the time we got there this morning the sun had been working its magic on the moraine at the side of the valley and rocks were pinging down.  To avoid getting hit we had to walk away from the path and in the deep snow.  We should get there earlier tomorrow and the moraine will be frozen.

Towards French Col
The next two days are the trip's crescendo. Tomorrow we finish our 10 day walk up the valley, climb 800 metres and cross the French Col into the Hidden Valley.  The following day we climb 1000 metres to the top of Dhampus Peak and then it's downhill all the way.

Another avalanche

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