Dhaulagiri: The White Mountain's Majesty in Nepal

Dhaulagiri, at 8,167 meters (26,795 feet), is the seventh-highest mountain globally, casting its majestic presence over the breathtaking landscapes of Nepal. The Sanskrit name “Dhaulagiri” translates to “White Mountain” and reflects the mountain's snow-covered appearance. In Nepali, the mountain is known as “धौलागिरी” and in Tibetan as "གླའུ་གླི་". Locals in the region also refer to the peak as "Dhavala" meaning “dazzling” or “shining”. The Dhaulagiri region lies in western Nepal and boasts diverse terrain ranging from lush valleys to high-altitude plateaus, creating an unparalleled trekking adventure.


Mount Dhaulagiri an Introduction: 

Elevation: Dhaulagiri is the seventh-highest mountain globally, towering at 8,167 meters (26,795 feet) above sea level.

Location: Western part of Nepal. Dhaulagiri mountain is part of the Dhaulagiri Himal range, a subrange of the Himalayas.

Trekking Routes: Dhaulagiri offers various trekking routes, with the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek and the trek to its base camp being popular choices. These routes provide adventurers with a diverse range of landscapes and challenges.

Climbing Difficulty: Climbing Dhaulagiri is challenging due to its technical difficulties, unpredictable weather, and remote location. It requires experienced mountaineers with high-altitude expertise.

First Ascent: Dhaulagiri was first summited on May 13, 1960, by a Swiss-Austrian team led by Max Eiselin, Kurt Diemberger, Peter Diener, Ernst Forrer, Albin Schelbert, Nyima Dorje Sherpa, Nawang Dorje Sherpa, and Nima Dorje Sherpa.

Local Inhabitants: Dhaulagiri region is home to several ethnicities like Magar, Gurung, Chhetri, and Thakalis.

Geography & Climate

Dhaulagiri sits entirely within the borders of Nepal as the western anchor of the Dhaulagiri Himalayas. It stands 35 miles west of the Annapurna massif, separated by the Kali Gandaki river valley. The mountain spans a large northwest-to-southeast oriented ridge perpendicular to the main Himalayan chain. 

Only a few mountains in the world arise suddenly from the surrounding terrain. Dhaulagiri’s immense vertical rise, steep faces, and dramatic ridges make it one of the most spectacular peaks in the country. The composition of the Dhaulagiri peak consists of limestone and dolomite consistent with those formed at the bottom of the ocean.

The peak sees very high winds with speeds over 100 mph, not uncommon near the summits. Precipitation varies considerably based on location. The northern and eastern faces receive far less snow than the southern and western sides, which incur storms blowing in from India. Overall, the mountain has a dryer, windier climate than more easterly Himalayan giants. 

For climbers and trekkers drawn to Nepal, Dhaulagiri presents unique challenges and boundless opportunities for adventure. 

Climbing History

In 1809, Captain William Webb, a European, visited Nepal and measured the height of Dhaulagiri. He was astonished because, till then, the Europeans considered the Andes to be the highest mountain chain. From 1809 on, for a long time, Dhaulagiri was thought to be the highest mountain in the world.

In 1950, a team led by Maurice Herzog tried to summit Dhaulagiri, but they could not see a path to Dhaulagiri peak. Hence, they aimed for Annapurna I peak instead and became the first persons, not only to climb Annapurna but also the first persons to summit an eight-thousander. 

After several failed attempts, Dhaulagiri was first climbed on May 13, 1960, by a Swiss-Austrian expedition. The summit team consisted of Max Eiselin, Ernst Forrer, Albin Schelbert, Nawang Dorje Sherpa, Nima Dorje Sherpa, and Nar Phu Dorjee Sherpa. Dhaulagiri is the seventh 8000-meter peak to be summited, though only about a month later than Cho Oyu and three weeks ahead of Manaslu.

Dhaulagiri has a tragic history. After the first ascent in 1960, no one succeeded until 1969. In 1970, the second ascent succeeded through the Northeast Ridge route. This success belonged to a Japanese expedition, consisting of Tokufu Ohta and Shoji Imanari. 

In the 1980s, several new routes opened up, including the Northeast Ridge, East Face, Southeast Ridge, and Southwest Face. However, the death toll continued to rise. The fatality rate of Dhaulagiri is slightly more than 16%, making it one of the most dangerous mountains to climb. Records show that by spring 2022, 647 persons have stepped on Dhaulagiri I peak.

Four major faces present opportunities for ascent:

Northeast Ridge - It is the first ascent route. You will enter this route via Eiger Ice Falls, between Dhaulagiri and Tukche-Ri peaks. However, this route is prone to avalanches.

Southwest Face - This was the second route to successful ascent used by the Japanese. However, it is very complex and challenging. Climbers till now have not used this route since the 1978 ascent.

Southeast Ridge - The Japanese opened this route as well. This, too, is a difficult route due to jagged rock towers and avalanche-prone regions.

North Face - This was the most popular route during the fifties and sixties. However, the first success to the Dhaulagiri Peak, through this route, was only established in 1982. 

There are other routes to Dhaulagiri Peak - West Face Direct, North Face Direct, and South Face Direct. Yet, till now, no one has successfully climbed the South Face Direct. If you decide to climb Dhaulagiri, whichever path you choose, you must prepare to cross several high passes and glaciers. The final summit push is equally challenging and involves conquering the steep and exposed terrain. Moreover, the weather at high altitudes is unpredictable, adding to the complexity. 

While not the most technically difficult 8000-meter peak, Dhaulagiri still presents major challenges from isolation, extreme winds, and periods of heavy snowfall. The mountain requires top physical conditioning, proper acclimatization, seasoned climbing skills, and strategic timing.

Outlying 8,000+ meter peaks like Dhaulagiri experience some of the greatest vertical relief in the Himalayas due to their isolated mass. Dhaulagiri rises an incredible 18,777 feet from the Kali Gandaki River, nearly two vertical miles below.

Dhaulagiri Region Trek

While only expert mountaineers will set their sights on the summit, trekkers can also explore the majesty of Dhaulagiri. The Circuit around the Dhaulagiri massif ranks as one of the great high-altitude treks in Nepal. It is much more remote than other popular treks, including Annapurna Circuit, Manaslu Circuit, and Everest Base Camp. 

There are multiple trekking routes, each presenting its own set of challenges and scenic marvels. The Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek and the trek to its base camp are popular choices for those eager to explore the region.

For Dhaulagiri treks, you need to acquire the necessary permits. The major permits you require include the Dhaulagiri Restricted Area Permit and the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP). You should also pay attention to the local regulations to make the most of your journey while respecting the environment and local communities.

The trek to Dhaulagiri takes you through villages inhabited by diverse ethnic communities, letting you experience the local culture and hospitality. You will cross several challenging passes, such as Dhampus Pass ( 5,240 meters) and French Pass (5,360 meters). You can get views of Dhaulagiri massif, Manapathi Peak, Tsaurabong Peak, Gurja Himal, and Dhampus Peak throughout the trek.

Viewing Dhaulagiri

In addition to the Dhaulagiri Circuit trek, you can enjoy the views of Mount Dhaulagiri from several other treks.

Annapurna Circuit Trek: While the primary focus of the Annapurna Circuit is the Annapurna mountain range, you can also get distant views of Dhaulagiri. The trek goes through diverse landscapes, and on clear days, you can catch glimpses of Dhaulagiri in the distance.

Mardi Himal Trek: Although the primary highlight of the Mardi Himal Trek is the stunning view of Machapuchare (Fishtail), the trek also offers distant views of Dhaulagiri. This trek is relatively shorter compared to some others in the region.

Jomsom-Muktinath Trek: This trek in the Mustang region provides panoramic views of Dhaulagiri and other peaks. Jomsom-Muktinath Trek takes you through the Kali Gandaki Valley, offering a unique desert-like landscape with views of Dhaulagiri on the horizon.

Annapurna Base Camp Trek: The Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) Trek is another popular trek in the Annapurna region that offers stunning views of Dhaulagiri and the surrounding peaks. While the primary focus of this trek is the mountains surrounding the Annapurna Sanctuary, you can also catch distant views of Dhaulagiri as you trek through the beautiful landscapes and diverse terrain on your way to Annapurna Base Camp.

Poon Hill Trek: The Poon Hill trek is popular and relatively short in the Annapurna region, and it offers stunning panoramic views of several Himalayan peaks, including Dhaulagiri. The primary highlight of the Poon Hill trek is the sunrise view over the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges. You can enjoy distant but breathtaking glimpses of Dhaulagiri as from the Poon Hill. 


The White Mountain allures the ambitious with its immense snowy bulk challenging the sky. Yet up close, it also offers humble gifts of peace, perspective, and natural wonder for pilgrims encircling its flanks. Dhaulagiri endures as a crown jewel of Nepal and a dream for climbers everywhere. Its shining majesty compels all who draw near to marvel and explore. If you want to enjoy the views of this majestic peak, you can contact us

Paul Gurung

Paul has an extensive experience in the tourism industry. Through his blogs, he shares his deep knowledge about the stunning trek regions in Nepal, inspiring trekkers worldwide to explore these regions and enrich their lives. In addition to geography, his writings delve into the human side of the trek regions, including culture, traditions, religions, and etiquette, offering a comprehensive and enriching perspective on the Himalayan trekking and expedition experience.