Before the end of the day there would be tears, tantrums and triumph, but how did we get to this point?
Decisions, decisions, decisions…
Regions such as Annapurna have a variety of hikes on offer, from a 3 week adventure completing the entire Annapurna Circuit, 1 week summits to Annapurna Base Camp and 5 day expeditions to Poon Hill. Add to that the Mustang and Langtang regions and the choices are almost endless.
For those willing to explore further than the Everest region, you will find equally stunning scenery and friendly locals but potentially share it with fewer hikers.
We opted for the Annapurna Circuit, drawn by the Thorong La Pass, and the chance to go to an even higher altitude than that of Everest Base Camp.
The Annapurna Circuit
One of biggest benefits of hiking in Nepal is that the established routes go from village to village and each night you stay with a local family at a tea house. This has three huge advantages:
1.Travel lighter - no need for a tent, roll mat and far fewer provisions because you can purchase all meals on the trail from the various tea houses.
2.Insight into local culture - how many hikes have you been on where you have received a religious blessing to protect you on the mountains? This was my first time as well but it wouldn’t have happened if I was staying in a tent.
3.Invest in the local economy - your tourist dollars are going straight into the hands of local families.
This lasted a mere 10 minutes.
With only a few hundred metres hiked and less than 50m of elevation gained out of the 1,000m required, the enormity of the task hit Emily. The promised tears and tantrums commenced. Sitting on our packs, breathless, we took a minute and watched the sun rise. The beauty of our surroundings restored our faith, drive and ambition.
I half heartedly offered Emily the chance to turn around and hike 10 days out. She contemplated it longer than I thought she would, but I know what her answer will be. We were going over the top.
Each step was an effort, but after 2 hours our determination was rewarded and we made it to the top and our long awaited triumph. You could almost feel the emotion in the thin, thin air. Every hiker who has made it is involved in a high five, hug or selfie. Shedding our packs along with any thoughts of tired legs or altitude sickness we throw ourselves into the celebration. This is without doubt the hardest 2 hours of hiking we have ever done but also the most rewarding.
Ensure you have a clear understanding of AMS, appropriate travel insurance (covers evacuation for illness and natural disasters when hiking up to 6,000m) and most importantly, be prepared to turn around. People die most seasons on the Thorong La Pass, if it doesn’t feel right then do not go ahead.
Click here for more information on hiking the Annapurna Circuit.
Have you conquered the Thorong La Pass, how did you find it?