The Annapurna Circuit trek, day #11. From Thorong Phedi to High Camp. Due to weather conditions, we decided to go to High Camp instead of crossing the pass.
Yesterday we reached Yak Kharka with the help of our little dog buddy Bobby: The Annapurna Circuit trek, day #10
The Annapurna Circuit trek, day #11
Thorong Phedi – High Camp: 3km
Altitude: 4450m -> 4850m
Total distance covered by foot: 140km
Woken up by cold and excitement to see what the weather would be today we opened the curtains. Looking outside we noticed the weather was not nice. Cloudy, snowy and it looked very cold. Glad we decided not to cross the pass today. Since we would not be able to see anything on the pass anyway.
After breakfast we decided to wait for the weather to clear a bit. The walk towards High Camp was only 3km’s but 400m up. This would take us an hour, maybe 2. So we had all day. In case really bad weather was coming we would risk getting stuck at High Camp.
Since it was cold, really cold. Some other guests in the guesthouse asked the owner to turn up the heat. The owner did not oblige and started to become very unfriendly. Guess being stuck all winter in a guesthouse alone makes you very unsocial. So we decided to pack our stuff and leave as soon as possible.
Up up up.
In total it was 9 of us. A few Spanish people (Albert, Unai and, Maria) decided to join us. Together with the Dutch couple we had been hiking with since Shreekharka. It was going to be a hard but short climb. Already being at 4450m we could feel the altitude. Gaining another 400m in just 3kms would be tough. But short! Also, it would make the day after much easier.
The guide of the Dutch couple was leading the way up. From Thorong Phedi to High Camp it was just going to be a steep windy path up. It gave us a lot of comfort having him with us. Great guy and knew what he was doing.
The picture above of the guide is one of my favorite pictures on the Annapurna Circuit. Such a cool setting.
Slowly but steady we made progress. Wind and snow picked up once again as we kept pushing for High Camp. Emily, who has been with us since day 1. Suddenly started to feel very sick, and struggled a lot. The whole time she has been running uphill like a pro athlete. But today it was a bad day for her, Manual and I decided to carry her stuff. So we could all make it to High Camp.
It took us 1,5 hours to reach High Camp. Not too hard and a good preparation for the day after. It was still windy and snowing so we decided to drop our stuff and go inside the guesthouse. The owner of the guesthouse seemed very surprised to see hikers. He mentioned our friends in the morning but didn’t expect anyone else that day. Wood is scarce at these altitudes, so he was only willing to lit up the fireplace after 15:00 to spare some wood. It being 12:30 meant we had to wait a bit. So we gathered blankets and ordered some hot food.
15:00 Fire time
Finally at 15:00 they turned on the fire. Some more people turned up and the cabin was filled very quickly. Luckily this meant also a lot of heat! Also the two Alaskan guys we met during lunch on day 4 made it to the cabin. Nice to see everyone was getting up OK. Because of the snow most of the gear got wet, with so many people this also meant a lot of wet stuff. Luckily there was a German guy who was well prepared (sometimes it comes in handy when stereotypes are met! haha). Who brought a clothing line!
Views from High Camp
Later that day the weather cleared and I went outside for a bit. Since it was still early and I had nothing else to do. Might as well enjoy the surroundings.
After the little walk we had some dinner: Pizza, pasta, fried rice… and well prepared tasty food. At this altitude I just expected Dal Bhat or some sort of easy rice dish. Satisfied, we played some more card games and shared travel stories before going to bed.
Excited we went to bed, tomorrow was going to be the day. Almost two weeks we have been living up to this. The day we would cross Thorong La Pass. Going over 5000m altitude for the first time. We set the alarm for 04:30, since the goal was to be over the pass before 11:00. Usually after 11:00 the wind picks up making the pass more dangerous. Time for a cold cold night.
Side note: 20 dollar guide.
One of the guides that came in that evening, was a proper douche. He noticed most people were wondering about the Pass and what to do tomorrow. Since we didn’t have an internet connection for a while now, we had no idea what the weather forecast was. He started telling stories about the 2014 blizzard that hit the Annapurna Circuit. Killing a lot of hikers. But he would make a safe path up there as long as everyone paid him 20 dollars. We decided to ignore him and stick together. This is not what you want to hear being up on 4850m and having no experience up there.
We don’t like to be negative in sharing our moments. But unfortunately, there are bad people everywhere and guides on the Annapurna Circuit are no different. Please if you decide to get a guide, make sure to do your research. There are a lot of shade guides. If it goes south, this is the guy you will rely on. So better make sure he is capable of saving your life instead of earning extra money.