Dispatch 14: Trek from Italian Base Camp (12,008ft/3660m) to Dhaulagiri Base Camp (15,577ft/4748m)

Dhaulagiri’s massive west face viewed from just past Italian Base Camp in early morning light
The route from Italian Base Camp toward Dhaulagiri Base Camp
Dhaulagiri Base Camp at first light (from the following morning)

Today, we began the longest day of our trek to base camp, starting around 7:30am. We made our way up the grassy hills above Italian Base Camp then descended onto the glacial moraine formed by the Chhonbardan Glacier, where we remained for the rest of the day. The morning temperatures were cool and breezy, and we didn’t stop for a break until we reached sunny slopes. We turned a corner and reached Japanese Base Camp at 12,762ft/3890m where we got a beautiful view of Dhaulagiri, Manapathi and Tsaurabong. We stopped briefly here to remove layers and noticed a few climbers waiting nearby. Later we discovered that two of these men were evacuated by helicopter, but we still are unsure of the reason. An hour later, we saw Tukuche Peak before clouds came up the valley and obscured our view. The wind picked up, and we put our layers back on for the remaining hours as light snow began to fall. We eventually turned a corner and headed up the glacier where we got our first view of Dhaulagiri Base Camp. We crossed the river and gained the moraine where our base camp was located. We were disappointed by the lukewarm welcome we received when we arrived, and I had to ask multiple times about the disposition of our tents as the weather further deteriorated. We were given no tea, and hardly got a hello as we took refuge inside the mess tent. Fortunately our bags arrived, and we thanked our porters and gave them generous tips before wishing them a safe descent. After all of this was finished, our base camp tents were finally sorted, and we moved our equipment inside. We had a delicious dinner prepared by Gopal, the same cook I had in 2009 on Manaslu. The dinner saved the day, as we were all quite disappointed in the base camp services until we ate it. We relaxed in the mess tent as the heavy snow began to lighten, and by the time we retired to our tents, the moon came out and lit up the base camp in a beautiful blue light. We settled in for the night. A dog had made her way to base camp and was covered in ice after the snow storm, so I spent some time warming her up and fed her before bed. I left a mattress pad in the vestibule of my tent so she had somewhere dry and insulated from the icy glacier to sleep for the night.