In pictures: The trek to Annapurna base camp in Nepal – Part 2
Continued from Part 1
AVALANCHE chutes, ice and snow are a feature of the second half of the journey from Deurali to the 4130m high Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) on the Annapurna Sanctuary trek in Nepal. Part two of the journey now enters thin air also where acclimatization days are vital as is keeping warm with the temperature dropping rapidly.
From Deurali the route to Macchapucchare Base Camp (MBC) is like entering a wintery wonderland if it has snowed recently. On this particular journey it had and the route up into the pass and the sanctuary traipsed by snow laden slopes, streams, stairs and even rooftops. While beautiful and crisp in the early morning, and cold, it became more treacherous as the sun rose and it began to melt.
At MBC a sign indicates the way to ABC and the long journey to the top begins to come to an end. It’s only two hours from MBC to ABC but it can feel a lot longer such is the impossibility of gauging progress amongst the enormous massifs rising on all sides.
“I felt as though I were plunging into something new and quite abnormal. I had the strangest and most vivid impressions, such as I had never before known in the mountains. There was something unnatural in the way I saw Lachenal and everything around us. I smiled to myself at the paltriness of our efforts, for I could stand apart and watch myself making these efforts. But all sense of exertion was gone, as though there were no longer any gravity. This diaphanous landscape, this quintessence of purity–these were not the mountains I knew: they were the mountains of my dreams.”
― Maurice Herzog, Annapurna
Trekkers are recommended to allow extra days for acclimatization in their itinerary and stay at both Macchapucchare Base Camp (MBC) and ABC if their schedule allows. While only one may be necessary it is best to avoid the area between Deorali and MBC once the sun is up and could melt snow falls that then cascade down and over the track. Plus after all those days trekking it’s a shame to rush the most scenic section of the journey.
For many arrival at ABC is an ecstatic moment, particularly if they’ve already trekked a week to get there. Accommodation at the top can be limited so most trekkers try to arrive early in the day to secure a bed. Then there’s time to wander around while the weather is still good. Often clouds close in on the peaks after midday.
Once the temperature drops at ABC, and the clouds descend, the best thing to do is hunker down with food and a book in the heated dining rooms of the teahouse as the snow and wind whistles around outside. The dining halls are popular with the guides and porters too who may study English, talk to trekkers or indulge in a game or two of cards.
In the early hours of the morning trekkers rise to view the glacier and surrounding peaks as the sun comes up. The Annapurnas are some of the most deadly mountains to climb, particularly Annapurna I that claimed the life of Anatoli Boukreev who featured in the controversial 1996 Everest catastrophe. Annapurna is climbed far less than Everest (142 to 2561 by one count in Panorama magazine) but is also more deadly with a much higher percentage of casualties. There are stupas at base camp erected in memory of climbers that have lost their lives on the mountain and thus become part of Annapurna.
“Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins. There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.”
― Maurice Herzog, Annapurna
All images by Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com