Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal,

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake


Buddhist clue
Buddhist banners add color to Ice Lake's semi-cold shore.
Buddha's balcony
The capricious geology of the Annapurnas. A slope "streaked" by erosion scales the highest peaks of the mountain range.
The Long Marsyangdi Valley
More Buddhist flags branch towards the trail to Ice Lake, with the long valley of Marsyangdi in sight.
Parking at the heights
Ice Lake owner's horse awaits homecoming.
different strands
The capricious geology of the Annapurnas. A slope "streaked" by erosion scales the highest peaks of the mountain range.
last storage
Couple about to leave Ice Lake, returning to Braga (Brakka) or Manang.
Return to Braga
Hikers at the beginning of the trail back to Braga (Brakka).
enlightened Buddhism
Buddhist stupa on the shore of Ice Lake.
ice lake tea house
Signpost signals hikers the comforting arrival at the Ice Lake tea house.
Way back
Sara Wong at the beginning of the return to Brakka, deep in the valley of the Marsyangdi River.
Iced Lake in View
Aged indication of the Ice Lake, a lake that is frozen for most of the year, at an altitude of 4600 meters.
On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.

It is already part of the common sense of the Annapurna circuit.

stay a few days in Braga or Manang was essential for us to realize if we were really in physical condition. It would be ideal to try it out on one of the courses that depart from the banks of Marsyangdi to places high up on the slopes on either side of the valley.

Ice Lake was one of the most recommended. The rail started right there in front of the houses of Braga. As much as we calculated what it would cost us, we couldn't dodge it.

We had ordered breakfast for 7am. We've already woken up twenty minutes after that. Just in time to see the ever-rising Teutonic group leave the front of the New Yak Hotel, pointed to the path we would take.

We ship breakfast in three times. We went back to the bedroom and repacked the backpacks with more this and more. It's almost nine when we leave, with that Portuguese feeling of being late, even if no one has set schedules.

We went through the base of the monastery of Braga, we followed the contours of the village and entered its houses into the house, as we had done the day before. In one of the shady alleys, we find a first sign indicating the final destination. We take this direction until the path makes us leave the houses behind, uphill.

View from the trail to the Ice Lake above Braga.

The capricious geology of the Annapurnas. A slope “streaked” by erosion scales the highest peaks of the mountain range.

De Braga (Brakka), Up the Mountain

Shortly after, we came upon the main trail that backtracked towards the Monastery of Karma Samtem Ling and towards Ngawal, the village from which we had arrived in Braga.

The further we travel, the more panoramic the view becomes of Braga and the kind of geological groove that sheltered it and the main valley of Marsyangdi. We saw it snaking from Manang and further upstream.

We back off little or nothing. A sign painted on a rock alerts us that it was time to step up in earnest. We cut to the slope and began a zigzag incline up it.

Two hundred meters later, our costly advance is stopped by a long line of older walkers that occupied the entire narrow path. We passed them agitated by a breathless discussion of whether we should hurry or wait stranded at their pace, we didn't know how long.

It ended up winning the law of what was ahead. We overtake them in obvious overheating. We catch our breath as much as we can and calm down. We returned to our normal stride, for the rest of the route with no more traffic worthy of record.

At a certain height, the rail snaps to a protruding edge of the slope. The position of this edge reveals a more open landscape than ever, both to Manang's side and to the opposite.

The First Panoramic Scale of the Rail

Sensitive to its contemplative blessing and that it would be the perfect place for a first, longer rest, the natives installed a long multicolored clothesline there, flowing with Buddhist flags.

Buddhist banners, Ice Lake trail, Annapurna circuit, Nepal

A string of Buddhist banners mark a vantage point across the Marsyangdi River Valley, overlooking Manang and beyond.

We sat down on smoother rocks, devoured the first energetic bars and praised the somewhat esoteric privilege of being able to appreciate such landscapes. From Braga, which was just below, we could only see a point closer to Marsyangdi.

By way of compensation, the entire valley to the east was exposed. Manang's most modern houses on its eccentric alluvial plateau, Lake Gangapurna a little below in intimate contact with Marsyangdi.

The next day, we would walk parallel to the river, until we settled in Manang. But forward, as we saw it, the river valley forked. We wanted to see for sure which of the passes following Manang would lead us to the longed-for Thorong La Pass.

To the naked eye, it was still too complicated to notice. As such, we have suspended the study of the valley. With our thighs cooled, we took a few last photos and returned to the climb.

Marsyangdi River Valley, Annapurna Circuit,

More Buddhist flags branch towards the trail towards Ice Lake, with the deep valley of Marsyangdi in sight.

New Stop. The Very Audible Symptoms of Mountain Evil

A quarter of an hour later, we stopped again at a similar point higher up. Overlooking the valley, but also the viewpoint of former Buddhist flags. At that very moment, the line of hikers that we had passed arrives at the resting point.

The wind blows towards us. We hear two or three of them cough helplessly. We knew it was a bad omen and we felt safe that it hadn't happened to us yet. We guessed that your guides would not allow those three of your clients to proceed.

What happened spilled over or what we expected to happen. There were even two of them, and it seemed to us that one of them could go down with the trio with symptoms of mountain sickness. The other, so we thought, was able to continue with the rest of the group. Even today we still don't understand why. Instead, the two guides and the ten or twelve hikers they led came down.

We continued without any setbacks. Uphill.

Eventually, we are caught up in the sudden vision of Annapurna's supreme snowy summit, jagged by a ridge above our plane.

A flock of wild deer that grazed on this ridge served us as a stopover for the overwhelming mountain that crept there. We were so excited by the majesty of its summit that we almost forgot what our legs suffered.

We resume the steps. Mine, more than burst and recover, Sara's, almost always uniform and well measured.

Ice Lake Restaurant on the way up to Ice Lake, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Signpost signals hikers the comforting arrival at the Ice Lake tea house.

The Soothing Vision of Ice Lake Tea House

We covered another few hundred meters. Halfway through a new ramp, the trail reveals a house. Finally, we had reached the “Ice Lake Restaurant, Tea & Coffee Shop”, so indicated a white and blue sign placed in a corner, next to the tin roof.

Opposite to the horse that the owner rode every day to take off between his home in the already distant valley and the establishment where he earned his living.

A cold wind blows so we sit inside. The owner welcomes us and installs us. We ordered ginger, lemon and honey teas accompanied by chapatas with yak cheese.

We savored them with the doubled pleasure of the effort and got into conversation with the native who has to do in the kitchen and is not looking forward to it.

As much as we felt like dragging the reward, we didn't hold back for more than twenty minutes. With the withdrawal of the large group below, we had the feeling that no one was following us.

The sign outside the building also announced that we were 1:30 am from Ice Lake.

Being the last ones down was always to be avoided. Okay, we got moving once more.

Ice Lake Restaurant Owner's Horse, En route to Ice Lake, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Ice Lake Restaurant owner's horse awaits homecoming.

We to Arrive, Almost all to Initiate the Return.

At that hour or so (it didn't reach 1:30 am) that it would take us to the top, we crossed paths with the rest of the day. All groups had left much earlier than us. Each descended from the lake in their own way and in the way that their health and fitness allowed them.

Sara Peréz and Edo, the Hispano-Italian couple with whom we had lived before, were descending at great speed, without any problem. We also met the Germans. one of them was with mountain sickness, dizzy, with headache and difficulty going down. Two of them accompanied him. Two others had lingered higher up.

In an additional stretch, we entered a section where the trail was muddy from the daytime snow thaw. The dark mud forced us to refrain from stepping.

It didn't prevent, more pause, less pause, more photography less photography, from reaching our final destination.

Signposting the Ice Lake, at the entrance to the lake, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Aged indication of the Ice Lake, a lake that is frozen for most of the year, at an altitude of 4600 meters.

Finally, the Frozen and Longed Ice Lake

Almost five hours after Braga's match, we had conquered the 4.600 of Ice Lake. So proved a white and gold stupa, decorated with Buddhist flags.

Stupa by the Ice Lake, above Braga (Brakka), Nepal

Buddhist stupa on the shore of Ice Lake.

Much more than the lake itself. As the name suggested, and in March, the lake was little more than a snowy surface with diffuse boundaries. Just there, we found a couple taking their last photos, hurrying to start their way back.

We realized then that we were the last ones. Aware that many of the storms on the circuit arrive, fulminating, towards the end of the day. Unwilling to be caught by one of them, alone, at that altitude, on a narrow trail with kilometer-high precipices on the right, we enjoyed the surrounding scenery.

Hikers by Ice Lake, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Couple about to leave Ice Lake, returning to Braga (Brakka) or Manang.

We took a deep breath. We make the last images, ours and those of the couple, moving away on the tiny white ground, against the overwhelming background of the Annapurnas. After this usual ritual, we inaugurate the descent. Graced with the mercy of gravity, we speed up and speed up.

The Hasty Descent Back to Braga

We have the thighs, the calves and all the strong muscles from the previous walks and climbs which allow us to brake in a short time.

We see dark clouds approaching from Chame's sides, aimed at Manang's sides and their tone displeases us.

We had already enjoyed the view on the way up.

Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

Hikers at the beginning of the trail back to Braga (Brakka).

We choose to descend in near-race mode, at least until our knees react to the overload and start to ache. We passed the couple who had left before us.

And by another small group. It had been five hours going up. There were only two going down. Back in Brakka, we received the deserved reward.

We had gone up and down without any symptoms of mountain sickness. We were much more acclimatized than before for the 5.416m crossing of the Thorong La Pass.

We immediately celebrated by comforting ourselves with ginger teas with honey and lemon and a couple of Tibetan breads.

Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a Chame, Nepal,

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Annapurna Circuit: 2nd - Chame to Upper PisangNepal,

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Pisang.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Pisang, Nepal,

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Ngawal when the last snow faded.
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Pisang to Ngawal, Nepal,

From Nightmare to Dazzle

Unbeknownst to us, we are faced with an ascent that leads us to despair. We pulled our strength as far as possible and reached Ghyaru where we felt closer than ever to the Annapurnas. The rest of the way to Ngawal felt like a kind of extension of the reward.
Annapurna Circuit: 5th- Ngawal-BragaNepal,

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal,

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

Four days of walking later, we slept at 3.519 meters from Braga (Braka). Upon arrival, only the name is familiar to us. Faced with the mystical charm of the town, arranged around one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist monasteries on the Annapurna circuit, we continued our journey there. acclimatization with ascent to Ice Lake (4620m).
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal,

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal,

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Annapurna 10th Circuit: Manang to Yak Kharka, Nepal,

On the way to the Annapurnas Even Higher Lands

After an acclimatization break in the near-urban civilization of Manang (3519 m), we made progress again in the ascent to the zenith of Thorong La (5416 m). On that day, we reached the hamlet of Yak Kharka, at 4018 m, a good starting point for the camps at the base of the great canyon.
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