Snow Leopard Trek

The monsoon rains will hopefully be over by mid-September, and I would like to follow the steps of Peter Matthiessen in his book “The Snow Leopard”. This is fabulous reading for those of you who do not know this writer who just passed away. It is both a description of his travels in the upper Dolpo looking for the snow leopard, as well as a comparison of eastern and western thought and an intimate analysis of himself as he evolves throughout the trek.

There are several companies offering 30 day tours to the upper Dolpo. The highest point of the climb is some 18,000 feet, and the views are sure to be breathtaking. Most of them count some 25 days of camping. We will also be trekking by Phoksundo lake. as seen in the movie Himalaya:

There are few tourists on these treks, so if you have studied Buddhism, and or Zen, you will no doubt be rewarded by the loneliness I am sure we are to encounter. If you are interested in photography, and are knowledgeable about it, perhaps we can also work on a joint project while on the trip.

I am a medical doctor with extensive training in acute care medicine and high altitude physiology.



6 replies
  1. hi!

    i was searching for partners for a remote trip like this but i was thinking not to go to dolpo because of the fee… but what you said about the photographic project got my attention. can you be a little more explicative about it? do you want to join a company to make this journey?

    • Thanks for your interest… Dolpo has a fee, yes, but it is considered one of the most beautiful treks in Nepal simply because there are few tourists. So it’s more pristine! The trek is also a longer one, with no tea-houses and all camping once one gets going.

      Trekkng this without a company or Alpine style is probably not easy. If you read Matthiessen’s book, he needed quite a bit of help to get across to his destination. So yes, a company with sherpas and porters is probably best.

      Finally, creating a photographing all the fauna, flora, villages, lakes, and mountains that Matthiessen saw would make for a great companion book.

  2. yes i did read the book and watch the movie himalaya.. that’s why dolpo always tempt me so much. i don’t think i can afford it but i will surely consider it those days. thank you for the informations

  3. Are you still planning to trek the upper Dolpa this fall? I would be interested to join, but am looking at slightly later dates. I am an amateur photographer too.
    Even if your dates are fixed, I would be interested to know if you have already contacted agencies and made a per person budget for the hike…. just wondering how far off I am, came out with a 3 to 4000 usd figure by totting up guide, permits, porters fees, flight etc.

    • I am definitely going, and I am booked (sent my deposit) with an agency there. I would not recommend a later date since you don’t want to get too much into the winter when the passes will become to difficult due to snow. I also did not see any agencies that depart after the end of September. If you read Matthiessen’s book, they had issues crossing several passes in November. My departure date is Sept. 28 from Kathmandu with a return about a month later.

      Regarding your budget, I think you are on the low side, I saw not agencies offering treks at this price. The permits are circa $500, plus there are two flights from Kathmandu (out and return) to get to Dolpo. This is a remote trek where many porters and yaks are required, so don’t expect a budget approach. All agencies have similar prices.


  4. Thanks for your reply. Indeed I was planning to hike in October, and had a hunch my cost estimate was simplistic/optimistic!. Did you do extensive research before booking with an agency? If so can you let me know who you settled for?
    Thanks, have a great hike, see you up there maybe.