Tuesday 15 December 2009

Nepal, October 2009, Annapurna Circuit Trek, Upper Pisang to Thorung La

After a night at Upper Pisang we departed on day 6 on our way to Manang. Our guide Mek suggested that we take a high route above the Marsyangdi Valley opposite the Annapurna Himal so that we could enjoy the views. Good choice Mek!

The whole of the Annapurna Circuit is very commercialised with local people taking every opportunity to provide for trekkers and after another stiff climb we found ourselves at a "resturant" where we enjoyed a coffee, a chocolate bread and this view.

Here, looking down into the valley, you can see the village of Humde with it's gravel airstrip serviced several times a week from Pokara. The mountains in the background comprise the western end of the Annapurna Himal from Gangapurna 7454M to Idam Phra 5875M (just right of centre) to the lower peaks of the Muktinath Himal on the right. Stunning views indeed!

After a night in the municipal district capital - Manang 3540M, we began our climb north towards the Thorung La and our route to the Kali Gandaki Valley.

This view is looking up up the Thorung Khola Valley towards the peaks surrounding the Thorung La. The white triangular peak on the left is Khatungkang 6484M, centre is Syagang 6026M and right is Yakwakang 6482M. The Thorung La 5416M pass is immediately below Yakwakang on the left.

At this point on day 7 we were at an altitude of 4000M and the effects of the altitude were becoming noticable.

This picture was taken on day 8 en route to Thorung High Camp at around 4350M looking south down the Thorung Khola Valley back towards the Annapurna Himal.

Visible in this picture are, extreme left - Annapurna IV 7525m then Annapurna III 7555M (centre) with the dark mass of Gangapurna 7454M just right of centre with Tao Kang (Glacier Dome) 7059M to its right.

Rather than having a rest day and two nights in Manang, Mek, being rather alarmed at the sheer numbers of trekkers in the area, had advised that we push on a day early in order to get a room at the Thorung High Camp as difficulty had been experienced in finding us accommodation on a number of occasions by this time.

Taken on the morning of day 9 this picture shows Thorung High Camp 4925M nestling in the col - lower left hand side of this picture, with the slopes of Chulu West 6419M above and the Annapurnas from Annapurna II left to Gangapurna, right.

Thorung High Camp was quite amazing. Electricity is brought up from the hydro plant at Thorung Phedi so there was hot food & a dining room and electric light. We even saw a room full of porters watching TV!

A few hours later we found ourselves at the Thorung La 5416M and even here you could get a hot drink & food!

This picture shows Iain (left), Mek (centre) and Kirstin (right) with the Thorung La plaque in the background.

A downside to our rapid ascent to the Thorung High Camp from Manang was that Kirstin suffered a severe headache from about 4200M onwards and the decision was made that she should make the trip from High Camp to the Thorung La on horseback the next morning - a wise choice as it turned out.

People attempting this route need to be aware that at the Thorung La, you are 600M (almost 2000 feet) higher than Mont Blanc - the highest peak in the European Alps and therefore one should make very effort to be acclimatized before attempting this high altitude crossing and recognise that it is in fact - a serious undertaking not to be underestimated!

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