Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora


cold dawn
The village of Pisang dawns under a snowfall at night. The Anapurna II mountain appears in the background.
broken ridge
Cutting of the Swargadwari Danda mountain (4800m), hit by the wind and illuminated by the rising sun.
Cold Aurora II
Sunlight about to descend over the Pisang valley, soon over the houses of Lower and Upper Pisang.
canine sloth
Dog slumbers in the grounds of the Upper Pisang Buddhist temple.
Nepalese concentrate
Side view of Upper Pisang from the trail that connects it to the next village: Ghyaru.
sunny morning
Yak and two Upper Pisang residents, the three of them in a savory, sunny indolence.
cold landing
Corvids occupy a snowy roof just before the rising sun sets there.
Release II
The village elder leads a cow to the lower parts of Upper Pisang and its main source.
smiling generations
Two young inhabitants of Upper Pisang are getting ready to wash their clothes at one of the village's fountains.
Buddhist Trio
The entrance to the Upper Pisang Buddhist temple lays against the snowy slope opposite the Anapurnas.
stone mani
Buddhist religious elements arranged on the mani prayer wall of Upper Pisang.
Release I
A native of Upper Pisang, she sends her cattle out to wander above and below the village.
nepalese architecture
Typical Nepalese roofs. Snowy and with Buddhist banners fluttering in the wind and blessing homes.
belief in the sun
A resident of Upper Pisang parades a Buddhist rosary (yapa mala) while soaking up the sun while sitting on soil cushioned by a dry plant layer.
Stocking walls
Upper Pisang section, with well-marked Nepalese and Buddhist features.
keeping an eye on everything
Crow probes its territory, the broad valley of Pisang, one of many in the Nepalese Himalayas.
Buddhist heat
Monk tries to light a ritual fire at Upper Pisang Buddhist temple.
A top of the Himalayas
Sun and wind hit the snowy summit of Mount Anapurna II, at 7937 meters above sea level.
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.

It is part of the Annapurna Circuit ritual.

The rules dictate that to avoid mountain sickness we must drink liters of water. Following them almost always means sleeping with a full bladder and waking up once, twice, three times for uncomfortable trips to the bathroom.

From Chame that this torment was repeated. It made the nearly ten hours of rest we were already taking a lot less refreshing. At six in the morning, we are in a kind of seventh sleep. Mila, the person in charge of Mount Kailash guest house, knock on the door. We had asked him for hot water. When we open the door, there he is, with two big steaming buckets at his feet.

A cold and white dawn

We got up startled and with effort. We wish you good morning and thank you for your cruel punctuality. We took advantage of the packaging, ventured into the frigid dawn and took a look at the ghostly panorama from the porch outside the room. A dim light blued the valley ahead.

Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.

Sunlight about to descend over the Pisang valley, soon over the houses of Lower and Upper Pisang.

We rub our eyes and inspect him once more. The bluish color did not match the tones in which we had said goodbye to Pisang shortly after sunset. It was a whiteness disguised as a twilight that, during the night, had taken over the surrounding villages and mountains. When we finally come to ourselves, we sound the snow alarm and react accordingly.

We messed up, we put together the necessary photographic equipment on the rolled-up sleeping bags. We dress as much as possible, already wearing gloves and hats. We went up to the panoramic terrace, also covered with snow.

The sun was beginning to shine on the supreme peak of the mountains onwards, at 7937 feet of Mount Annapurna II, the sixteenth elevation in the world. It illuminated a threshold haze caused by the incidence of light on the icy summit, reinforced by the snow that the wind forced from the exposed edges.

Swargadwari Danda Mountain, Nepal

Cutting of the Swargadwari Danda mountain (4800m), hit by the wind and illuminated by the rising sun.

The dawn spreads over the top of that section of the mountain range. A little later, it hits the slopes below and, little by little, the houses of Pisang installed at its foot and in the thalweg crossed by the Marsyangdi, the river that continued to accompany us.

The Gentle Warms of the Sun and the Bath

Dawn soon passes this side of the river and blesses the steep Upper Pisang where we enjoyed it. In a flash, the village regains its senses. Crows out of nowhere flutter over white roofs and fluttering Buddhist banners, struggling for their preferred landings.

Corvid on an Upper Pisang roof.

Corvids occupy a snowy roof just before the rising sun sets there.

Some inhabitants emerge from the depths of stone homes to appreciate what the new day brings them. Almost an hour later, the solar blessing also reaches the top of Mount Pisang, behind us, and opposite Annapurna II.

By that time, we remember the hot water and the baths we didn't get to take. We return to the middle floor and look for Mila. “Don't worry, I've warmed it up again” soothes us as soon as we pass by the kitchen.

We gained courage, got into the meager shower compartment, undressed in goose bumps and indulged in soaping interspersed with tepid showers that we poured over us from a small bowl.

The Morning Coziness of Mount Kailash

Having passed the passage from the icy end of the bath to the comfort of winter clothes, we sat down at the table and attacked the porridge with apple and honey that the host had just served. At the same time, we took advantage of the return of electricity to charge as many batteries as possible.

Aware that we were still her only customers and that her business was under control, Mila sits down next to us. Conversation starts, we realized that the inn didn't belong to him, that the old man wasn't even from Pisang.

A Mount Kailash it was the result of the initiative of Bhujung Gurung, a younger and more adventurous native who kept a series of photographs of himself on the walls of the inn, always bearded, on horseback and in other types of adventures. Mila and her family had simply taken advantage of Upper Pisang's growing notoriety and the opportunity the tea-house had provided them.

Buddhist Monastery, Upper Pisang, Nepal

The entrance to the Upper Pisang Buddhist temple lays against the snowy slope opposite the Annapurnas.

Above and Below Upper Pisang

At that time, we knew little more about the town than the winding ramp to the Mount Kailash which, combined with the excessive weight of the backpacks, had devastated us on arrival. As such, we left them redone in the bedroom, shouted a goodbye to Mila and set out to discover.

We climb a few additional meters into the village. We point to the Buddhist temple that the terrace highlighted earlier had revealed to us. Once inside the precinct, we realized that he was in the hands of a solitary monk, too focused on his morning religious tasks or used to the peace of the retreat to waste time with us.

Buddhist monk, Upper Pisang, Nepal

Monk tries to light a ritual fire at Upper Pisang Buddhist temple.

The priest lights a ritual fire in a tower chorten elemental, of piled stones. When he does, he retires to some annex and we don't see him anymore.

Curious as it is in its nature, a crow suspects that fire may be of some use.

It lands on a prayer flag pole a few meters from us and, for a moment, monitors our movements. When he intuits a more than probable lack of benefit, he disbands.

Raven, Upper Pisang, Nepal

Crow probes its territory, the broad valley of Pisang, one of many in the Nepalese Himalayas.

The Last Moments in Upper Pisang

We realized that the sun's ascent to its zenith, melting the night snow and discovering the modern and uncharacteristic blue roofs that, to the disappointment of any photographer, the Nepalese got used to using. We went down to the heart of the village.

Upper Pisang resident herding cattle, Nepal

The village elder leads a cow to the lower parts of Upper Pisang and its main source.

We follow the footsteps of a native who releases the yaks from the corral, takes them to drink water and sets them free for the usual pastoral stroll. We peeked at some other streets, houses and nooks. We greet three or four inhabitants, the few we have come across.

Ten in the morning had arrived, the time for us to be on our way. Okay, back to Mount Kailash, we sealed our backpacks, put them on our backs and said goodbye to Mila.

Young residents of Upper Pisang, Nepal

Two young inhabitants of Upper Pisang are getting ready to wash their clothes at one of the village's fountains.

We walked, motivated, towards the edge of the village, we went around its mani wall of prayer wheels, crossed the exit/entrance stupa and made our way to the trail Annapurna Parikrama Padmarga, aimed at ghyaru. Ngawal and Braga.

Upper Pisang, Nepal

Side view of Upper Pisang from the trail that connects it to the next village: Ghyaru.

More information about hiking at Nepal on the official website of Nepal Tourism.

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: 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.
Bhaktapur, Nepal

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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.
Annapurna Circuit: 12th - Thorong Phedi a High camp

The Prelude to the Supreme Crossing

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.
Annapurna Circuit: 13th - High camp a Thorong La to Muktinath, Nepal

At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

At 5416m of altitude, the Thorong La Gorge is the great challenge and the main cause of anxiety on the itinerary. After having killed 2014 climbers in October 29, crossing it safely generates a relief worthy of double celebration.
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
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On the Other Side of the Pass

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