Dhaulagiri circuit - advice on trip and gear

Discussion in 'Holidays & Travel' started by Zylatis, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. Zylatis

    Zylatis Member

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    Hi gang,

    So for a while now i've been looking at doing this trip

    http://www.themountaincompany.co.uk/nepal/walking-and-trekking/dhaulagiri-circuit/

    to celebrate/commiserate the end of 8.5 years of uni (yay for Ph.D!).

    Anyway, I've essentially zero experience with this kind of thing (originally wanted to do Mera Peak, but the tour guides advised against it because of my noobness) so I thought i'd ask here about a few things.

    Firstly, if anyone has any pro-tips in general about hiking in that area, that'd be rad (besides getting fit.)

    Secondly, advice on travel insurance (trek goes up to about 5300m) would be awesome as i'm struggling a bit with that (seems rather sloppy language in some PDS's about what constitutes mountaineering for hiking (allowed) or mountaineering for..lolz i guess (not usually covered)).

    Finally, advice on gear to take. I'd love to take advantage of all these places like Kathmandu going out of business and having firesales, but I really don't know whats what. Basically I'd like to know what's the best kind of mid/heavy weight fleece and rain jackets to take on this trip.

    Page 25 of this pdf

    http://www.themountaincompany.co.uk/assets/TMC_DhaulagiriCircuit_TripDossier_181_45.pdf

    gives their advice on what to bring. I was looking at some of the patagonia gear, e.g. the R1 hoodie which people seem to rave about, and the R3 Hi-loft jacket which is uber expensive in australia but reasonable if bought in the US, which brings me to the last question, your honor:

    If I buy stuff online in the US and get it shipped here, will i get pwned by import duties etc? Normally I wouldn't worry about it (bought a bunch of stuff from the US before) but it seems some brands have actively gone out to restrict who ships what where, so i thought maybe they pay close attention to it in this area of clothing.

    Shanks!
    -Z

    EDIT: Seems patagonia is one of a long list of suppliers that regulate their international markets, i.e. can only buy locally :\
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  2. Fishface

    Fishface Member

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    I've done part of the Annapurna circuit years ago. Most of my friends who have done it have done so independently without use of a tour company. There are that many people trekking that there are always some going the same way as you. However this is a personal choice so I'll leave it up to you.

    Imported goods (private) are not subject to GST until they exceed $1k .
    Export restrictions can be overcome by using a buying company such as PriceUSA.

    My only suggestion is to buy some good boots and break them in before you go.
     
  3. Zzapped

    Zzapped Member

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    I did the base camp trek back in 2009, i weighed around 110 kg's at the time so fitness isnt a vital component, it was an amazing trek, very hard work but well worth the effort
     
  4. Shawry

    Shawry Member

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    Thermals are required. Long sleeve top and pants.
    Dont buy the polyester stuff that is often on sale and cheap, get the merino wool ones.

    As with all hiking gear, take the best you can afford.
    Higher price means lower weight. (Generally, do your research first)

    I bought afew items from US with restricted shipping. Either find a retailer that will shop, or use a forwarding service (ShipItTo, PriceUSA etc) as it may still be cheaper than buying locally.

    Being fit technically has nothing to do with altitude sickness, which you will get, when hiking up that high.
    It still helps though, and my best advice is drink a heap of water, even though it means youll be pissing every hour along the trail.
    Ibuprofen helped me with headaches.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
  5. OP
    OP
    Zylatis

    Zylatis Member

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    Hey guys, thanks for the replies! Useful info. I've ordered the basics from overseas (down jacket, gonna order a goretex jacket, 2x polartec fleeces) hopefully it arrives in time/doesn't disappear into the ether! (using friend to send via USPS express international, fedex was an option but still not sure i can justify 2x the price for shipping)
     
  6. Bar182

    Bar182 Member

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    OK here goes, I have done Annapurna Sanctuary, Gokyo Lakes and Everest Basecamp treks, Been to the top of Gokyo Ri and Kala Pattar. I have climbed Island Peak in Nepal and Huayna Potosi in Bolivia. In one week I am off to Russia to climb Elbrus so hopefully I can give you some decent info.

    Firstly is the company you are going with reputable? this will make or break your trip. Do your due diligence! if everything you find is positive then go for it. I personally havent heard of that company you are going to use but that doesnt mean anything.

    For insurance call up Covermore. They are more than happy to cover you for a trip like this as you will not be roped up and using mountaineering equipment. I am using them to climb Elbrus with no issues so your trek should be fine.

    For fitness, running, cycling, hill sprints and lots of stairs or stairmaster work. try and hit the gym and do some weights. You want strong heart, lungs, legs, core and back above all. Make sure you get out in the bush or in the hills and train with a loaded backpack! this is a must! a bonus if you use all the gear you would on your trek.

    I am surprised what they have mentioned regarding Mera Peak. Yes its high ~6400m but it is a trekking peak. Do some more research as I seriously think it is in your league as long as you train appropriately.

    Gear wise it depends how early you arrive in Kathmandu as you could pick up some real bargains in Thamel. There are knock of shops everywhere where you can pick up cheap non critical items. There is also official North Face and Mountain Hardware stores that sell legit gear at an affordable price. Make sure you buy boots here though so you have time to break them in. You do need a boot, a shoe is not acceptable. Make sure they are waterproof.

    I have had the same issue regarding items not being able to be sent to Australia but you will find if you use PriceUSA to ship your items you can get some really cheap gear at places like campsaver.com

    You dont need a lot of gear, you will probably take way too much. Look at some ex officio type underwear that are wearable up to 2 weeks at a time if needed. You want to look at getting these layers:

    BASE LAYER
    Get a thermal base layer preferably merino wool as it doesnt end up stinking up the joint. Top and bottoms ensure you top has a half zip which allows breathability if needed.

    INSULATION LAYER
    Any fleece will do the job here I like the half zip again for breathability. You dont want to be constantly dressing an undressing.

    SHELL LAYER
    Two types here soft shell and hard shell. Your soft shell jacket is good for stopping the wind and is water resistant your hard shell is going to be completely waterproof but wont breath as well. I carry both.

    I assume the company will supply you with a good down jacket and sleeping bag.

    I could go on for hours here let me know if you have any questions. Get a good beanie and some fleece gloves. Trekking poles are definitely worth a buy. Im rambling now... good luck.

    There is so much more that can be covered.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Zylatis

    Zylatis Member

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    Namaste!

    Got back from my Dhaulagiri trip a few days ago, and it was pretty awesome! We had bad weather for most of the days at altitude so missed out on the best views of Dhaulagiri I, but it cleared up for the last couple of days in Hidden Valley and over Dampus Pass so we got some sweet views of the Annapurna.

    I also made a small video from my GoPro clips:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM7Abg6QhAk
     
  8. resonance

    resonance Member

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    Second this.

    1) Get stuff from the US @ half price. I've been through ShipItTo, very good.
    2) No matter how fit you are, altitude will defeat you unless you acclimatise.

    We did the Salkantay trek in Peru (7 days total, including 3 days on the Inca Trail, joins on day 4). We went from 3,600m to 5,200m in one day, that was hard! Double the height of Mt Dandenong (Melbourne) in one day, at altitude. One thing I remember is stopping to eat my Snickers. I tell you what, THAT SATISFIED! So that's my recommendation. Take a big fat chocolate bar for every day and when you're 3/4 the way up on day x and you're running on flat, sit down, take in the views and enjoy that bar. But yeah the last bit > 5000m, I was literally puffing like I was running, but I was walking up a hill. And I had to keep stopping every 5mins. We'd acclimatised in Cusco and other parts of Peru prior to the trek.

    My observation while at heights and hiking was that you chow food like it's going out of fashion. It is no longer just something to do because you're hungry, but because you need serious fuel. You're probably burning twice as much calories as an average day. So a big fat chocolate bar is fuel, not something that's going to add to your waistline. It's a real good way to realise how your body takes in energy. I came away with a clear understanding that unless I do lots of work, I don't need to eat lots of calories. Sticks with me to this day.

    When you're walking, especially if it's sunny, you'll strip down to 1 layer because you're always hot - even if its 5C outside. But at night, and when sleeping in tents, if it gets to -10C or less, you'll need some serious layers. I had full thermals (top and bottom), t-shirt, jumper, jacket, beanie, gloves, etc. Still cold - and it only got to I think about -7C. If I had my current sleeping bag (GoLite feather rated to -7C), I would be OK but our tour company gave us crappy synthetic sleeping bags.

    Regarding altitude, they say you adjust in your sleep and I think it was 2-3 sleeps and you're pretty much right. I remember going over a mountain pass on a bus - being the first time at altitude in my life - and feeling dizzy and everything was dark, not to mention the headache. But in Peru we chewed on coca leaves (like all the locals do), what they make cocaine from. It helps with altitude because it enlarges the veins in your lungs - but I think it's illegal outside of the continent. So it's just about taking your time to get used to it. Spend a few days in Kathmandu first. Looks like the trek has a few acclimatisation days built in.

    Good luck! Dude this will be a trek you will look back upon favourably all your life. Take a good SLR and a polariser filter with you and get some wicked shots. Then you'll spend months afterwards setting them as your wallpaper at work and daydreaming like I did. :)

    (If you're interested to see photos of the Salkantay trek, they're here: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/funkz/sets/72157622641789194/ )
     

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