Annapurna Circuit Day 9 Thorung Phedi

Seriously cold, last night it snowed and Paul measured the temperature in his room at minus seven.  It's all very uncomfortable but despite the conditions everyone seems in great spirits and all ready for what could be, with snow on the ground, quite a difficult crossing.

Trudging out of Yak Kharka
Today's walk was a nice one and we were all togged up in all our cold weather gear.  I'm wearing boots, thermal leggings, trousers, thermal top, t-shirt, heavy fleece, 700 down jacket, snood, inner gloves and outer gloves. Today was just about OK but it was a gentle climb, tomorrow it's much steeper, we will be starting earlier and it will be much colder.  I'm definitely learning how gear performs in really cold weather.
Climbing up the valley

The cloudy weather means that for two days running we have missed out on the mountain top views.  Fresh snow last night, and the blearly wintery sky, is the giving the landscape a harsh, remote and very dramatic feeling.  Would prefer it to be sunny but this is the next best thing. 
Looking up the valley

Looking down the valley
It was a long steady trudge up the valley to Thorung Phedi, essentially the base camp for the crossing the pass.  It is early spring but everyone acknowledges that spring is taking a long time to arrive and that it's unseasonably cold.  Arrived for lunch after about four hours and then went for another acclimatisation walk up the side of the hill.  The first part of tomorrows 1,000 metre plus climb over the pass is particularly steep and we will be climbing before sun-up so it was good for the group to get this confidence builder under our belts.  The only down-side of the walk was that it started to snow and a good three or four inches fell before it stopped early in the evening.  A number of people are clearly a bit apprehensive about the walk.  On the other hand we are sharing the tea house with a large French group, on average an older group than ours, and they seem very confident.

All the chat is about Paul - nobody, including Paul thinks he can walk over the pass.  Jangbu, who clearly doesn't want to send a guide back down the valley with Paul suggested yak transport.  A yak to the top will cost $250 and Paul is happy to pay.  Unfortunately, with the snow, which has apparently rules out horses, the yaks are now all fully booked.  Jangbu suggests an extra early start for Paul (3.30 instead of 4.30), setting off walking with the expectation that they will be able to find a yak coming down.  Paul agrees with the plan but doesn't really look convinced.

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