Annapurna Circuit: 12th - Thorong Phedi a High camp

The Prelude to the Supreme Crossing

spiritual antenna
lonely walker
Climber climbs the slope connecting Thorong Pedi to Thorong High Camp.
Tibetan Buddhist Flags
A clothesline lung ta blesses the ramp leading to Thorong High Camp.
From the Hotel to the Viewpoint
High Camp guest heads to the scenic end a few hundred meters above the hotel.
The charger
Don in a moment of recovery during the arduous ascent to High Camp.
Rescue Horses
Horses walk towards High Camp from the higher ground of Thorong La Gorge.
by the crest
Hikers walk along a ridge that leads to a spot near the High Camp.
Heli Rescue
Helicopter about to land next to High Camp to help a hiker suffering from Mountain Evil.
snowy peaks
Snow ridges of the Annapurnas at the entrance to Thorong La Gorge.
Brown Mountains
The white of the snow contrasts with the almost ocher of the Annapurna Mountains.
High Camp View Hotel
A fallen poster marks the providential shelter of Thorong High Camp.
Ascent to 2
Duo of hikers almost reaching the middle top of the High Camp.
High camp
The first view of the High Camp buildings.
the good way
Valley in Snowy V
Night snow sprinkled the slopes and ridges of the Annapurnas white.
This section of the Annapurna Circuit is only 1km away, but in less than two hours it takes you from 4450m to 4850m and to the entrance to the great canyon. Sleeping in High Camp is a test of resistance to Mountain Evil that not everyone passes.

Annoyed by some anxiety and the noise generated by walkers in rooms near the New Phedi, on departure, we woke up before three in the morning.

The entire hotel was snowy and icy. Large stalactites hung from the eaves, including inside the shared bathroom. In the time that had passed, the cauldron with water placed there, had generated a large block of ice, with the damage to hygiene that such solidification implied.

From the conversation of two groups of American students, led by professors, their schedule for the circuit was not flexible. We realized that, due to some previous mishap, they were forced to cross Thorong La Gorge, that same dawn.

When we left the room and examined the weather, more than displeasing us, the imminent and precipitous rise of the Americans worried us.

The mountains continued under a gray veil of low clouds and mist. We knocked on Sara and Manel's room. They were getting ready to leave.

We expose our doubts and concerns to them when it starts to snow heavily.

Stronger than we had ever seen since leaving Pokhara.

We told them what we knew of the history of Thorong La crossings and what we had planned to save ourselves from getting scared, which was to avoid going up to the canyon in the middle of a snowstorm, even if many other hikers did.

The 2014 tragedy, which we will talk about in the next section of the circuit, was more than a reason to be astute and to redouble our care.

Upon noticing the intensifying snowfall, without seeing a single star in the sky, Sara and Manel nod.

The four of us decided to go back to sleep and see how the weather was after dawn.

Sunny Morning, Time to Leave Thorong Phedi

We woke up around seven in the morning. With the early departure of the two American groups, the New Phedi hotel seemed deserted to us.

The snow had already stopped. The sky opened before our eyes. In such a way that the sun came in, radiant and, little by little, got rid of the persistent cloudiness.

This yes, it was a scenario that we considered favorable. A sunny post-storm with, it seemed, hours of clear skies ahead.

Let's wake up Manel and Sara. We went back to pack our backpacks.

Don, our porter, was ready for our instructions. Even before eight in the morning, we all left the Hotel New Phedi.

When we reach the beginning of the trail and the slope, we have a broader and more real vision of how the night snow had changed the scenario.

The valley of the Jharsong Kola River and the imposing ridges that jutted from the tight V to the west were now white, with slight streaks of earth where snow had missed surfaces that were too steep.

The Good Tibetan Auspices of the Flags sung ok

A long, multicolored clothesline of Buddhist-Tibetan flags ok, stretched horizontally, it stood out from the white immensity.

Tibetans know them as Wind Horse. They are shamanic symbols of the human soul, also representative of the horse, one of the animals that represent the four cardinal poles.

They are also good luck wishing icons.

Right there, outside Phedi, this wind horse shivering blessed the walkers' journeys in both directions, though our Thorong La's proved far more challenging than the opposite.

Slowly, slowly, we climbed the white slope, which the rapid melting of the snow turned white.

At first, we were just the five of us going up. Little by little, hikers leaving Phedi or already arriving from previous scales – Yak Kharka, by Ledar and others – and who had chosen not to stop at Phedi, appeared at the bottom of the ravine.

The Precious Support of Don the Carrier

This was, without a doubt, the most strenuous stretch since the zigzag trail that rose from the Marsyangdi River to the top of Ghyaru.

This time, thanks to Don's services, we were less loaded.

The option of having a charger between Manang and Muktinah, already on the other side of the canyon, we had taken it precisely because, due to the photographic equipment, we were walking with almost twice the expected weight and that the other hikers were carrying.

We wanted to prevent a sudden injury to the lower back or the like, not to mention the mountain sickness, left us unable to proceed.

Even so, to Don, it was just our excess. Shorter than Nepali shippers are used to.

We transported 9 or 10 kg each, over the recommended threshold.

In these more portable modes, in a mere hour of up-stop, recover-resume, we reach the top of High Camp, where we recover, contemplating the new scenery from the top and the immensity we had left behind.

New dropout caused by mountain sickness

We experience this wonder when, in the distance, we see what looked like a helicopter approaching. In a few minutes, it reached the top of the High Camp slope and landed on a flat ledge used as a helipad.

Two hikers appeared from a hotel. One of them was a young woman, we found out that she was an Israeli and that, to our surprise, she walked in jeans and had difficulties.

The other, well-groomed, in snow pants and a bulky feather coat, handed her over to the rescue team. The dropout would be in acceptable condition, otherwise I hadn't asked for her farewell photo.

The memory fulfilled, the helicopter took off. As we had accompanied him to set himself against the mountains and sky, so we saw him disappear above the bed of Jharsong Kola.

We turn to our own reality.

With the facilities of the High Camp right next door, the doubts of whether we wanted to go on, or spend a night there, come back to us.

The Unplanned Layover at High Camp

We remembered what we had been told at Base Camp in Phedi, that the High Camp facilities, the rooms in particular, were miserable for the cold that was there.

As if that wasn't enough, the entrance to the canyon was a few hundred paces away. We decided to continue.

We walked along the snowy trail for almost forty minutes.

Until, in an area where it leaned over a steep slope, we felt the wind intensifying to gusts and bringing dense clouds on the other side of the mountain range, over the massif of Damodar Himal.

With compromised visibility and growing difficulty in keeping ourselves balanced and avoiding toppling over the slope, we aborted the plan.

We reversed gear. We take refuge in the comfort of High Camp. Coincidence or not, there were already several hikers there.

Many more would appear.

At about ten in the morning, we were left with the last two double rooms available. We left our backpacks and found ourselves in the heated room, at this hour, far from the inevitable salamanders.

We had seriously expended energy on Thorong Phedi's ascension. We feel hungry much sooner than normal.

We had lunch around 11 in the morning. Aware that we had to keep our bodies used to the effort at altitude, we went out again.

Discovering High Camp's Elevated Scenarios

We conquer a headland with a monumental view over the Jharsong Kola valley and the surrounding snow-capped peaks.

Its end was crowned by a pile of stones, the support of a grilled antenna, a unkempt structure, even so, entitled to a religious blessing.

Neither the antenna nor the ok that decorated it arrived to bless the guests of telephone signal, let alone internet.

More hikers followed in our footsteps and appeared from the depths of the High Camp. The tight space around the antenna is no longer enough.

It forced us to exchange acrobatic positions that, if miscalculated, could result in a plunge into the abyss. Resigned, we headed back down to High Camp.

Last Night at the Gates of Thorong La Gorge

We found it by the pine cone. We got a table, once again, away from the salamanders.

Despite the cold and discomfort, we dozed off, almost until dinner time and 20:XNUMX after the dining room closed, which took us to the freezing and spartan rooms.

On that night of renewed anxiety, the plan was to wake up at 4:30 am, have a light breakfast at 5:5 am. And we leave at 30:XNUMX am, about sunrise.

We were lulled by the wish that the day would awaken forgiving.

Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a ChameNepal

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: 2th - Chame a Upper BananaNepal

(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 Banana.
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, 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 Escort when the last snow faded.
Annapurna Circuit: 4th – Upper Banana 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 a 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: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal

Annapurna Circuit - The Painful Acclimatization of Ice Lake

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.
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.
Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
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