Sunrise on Annapurna as seen from Machapuchare Base Camp
Day 8: Machapuchare Base Camp 3700 meters (12,140 feet) to Chhromrong 2170 meters (7120 feet)
At 5am, we left behind the warmth of our sleeping bags to watch the sun rise over a frigid Machapuchare Base Camp. The hulking silhouette of the Himalayas emerged slowly out of the pitch black sky above us as the sky took on the earliest light of day. Icy mountain peaks crowned the panorama, and the shimmering, vibrant blue skies returned–a morning staple of the Himalayas at this time of year. After a hurried breakfast of gurung bread, fried eggs, and black tea, we set off, small specks scrambling down a deep valley still shadowed in night. The sunrise afterglow settled onto the steep granite walls towering overhead, but it was hours before daylight would lower itself into the valley and chase away the last remnants of the chilly Himalayan night. We stuffed our down jackets into our packs as we began to work up a sweat. Time was of the essence. What had taken seven days to climb, we needed to descend in two. Continue reading
One of the most beautiful parts of the trek, the valley bathed in early morning light with Annapurna towering ahead.
Day 5: Chhromrong 2170 meters (7120 feet) to Bamboo 2,335m (7661 feet)
It was an easier day, more Nepali flat, without any huge climbs or descents. The task at hand seemed less daunting. We were becoming acclimated to the altitude after spending the last few months at sea level in Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Our muscles had bounced back from the shock and overexertion of the first few days. I’d recovered from my bout of food poisoning, but Mandy was still bothered by her swollen right knee, which had weirdly popped up the day before we left on our trek. She was able to take some weight off it with hiking poles and continued to warrior her way up. Continue reading
Early morning view of Machapuchare from Tadapani
Day 4: Tadapani 2706 meters (8878 feet)to Chhomrong 2170 meters (7120 feet)
I woke up the next morning, my stomach feeling better, but with my legs still wobbling a bit beneath me. Mandy and I shuffled outside, blinking as bright sunlight replaced the grimness and dinginess of our room, the sacred peak of Machapuchare (which has never been summited and is now off-limits to climbers) towered ahead of us. We breakfasted at a long table outside under a clear blue sky that capped the glistening white Himalayan peaks surrounding us. Breakfast was warm porridge–I was able to eat half. Continue reading
View from Poon Hill summit
Day 3: Ghorepani 2874 meters (9430 feet) to Poon Hill 3240 meters (10,630 feet) to Tadapani 2706 meters (8878 feet)
I stared up through cold blackness at the barely visible ceiling. The darkness was damp and heavy. It was 2:30am and most of the generators in Ghorepani were powered down for the night. Waves of cramping surged through my stomach. Rather than make the trek down two long, unheated concrete hallways to the communal bathroom, I tucked myself deeper into my sleeping bag and hoped that full-blown food poisoning wasn’t looming. Not here, not at 10,000 feet, with 8 more days of extreme terrain and squat toilets yet to navigate. I was already exhausted from yesterday’s climb, but sleep eluded me as my stomach continued its violent protests.
At 4:30am, Mandy joined me in wakefulness. Across the valley, icy Himalayan peaks appeared to be floating in the darkness, their icecaps shimmering in the starlight. We pulled on every layer we had with us, flicked on our headlamps, and stepped out on the day’s first expedition. Continue reading
Annapurna Base Camp Trek: Somewhere between Hile and Ghorepani
Note: Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent massive earthquake in Nepal. After seeing their infrastructure firsthand, it is not hard to imagine that many buildings and potentially entire villages are completely leveled and cut-off from supplies and electricity. Please consider donating to the relief efforts, and as always, donate responsibly through reputable organizations. Shankar and our guides are ok, but many have lost their homes…
We awoke before sunrise. It was all quiet in the dimly lit hotel. In spite of the lack of sleep, wakefulness gripped us immediately courtesy of the nervous anticipation coursing through our veins. Minutes later, we grabbed our packs and left; we’d packed the night before and there was nothing left to do now except hit the road. Continue reading