Day 4 – Annapurna Circuit – Yak Karka over Thorong La Pass to Muktinath

The original plan was to wake up at 4:30am and leave by 5am, since I new it would be a long day going up and over the pass. But I realized that this first hour of hiking would be very cold, so instead I woke up at 5am and left by 5:45am.

The door to the restaurant/kitchen part of the guest house was locked, so I was unable to find a tap to fill up with water. So I set off for the morning with no water, hoping to find a stream quickly. There was a wet, loose, cliffy type thing, and I could see a trickle of water coming down part way up. I spent 15 minutes nervously climbing up, and eventually reached the water source and filled up my bottle. I still purified my water, even though contamination was unlikely, just in case of animals or garbage upstream.

It was a slow 2.5 hours up to Thorong Phedi (confusingly, also called base camp). I arrived at 8:15am and met a couple of Canadians who had just graduated with their MA Economics from Western. I thought I had escaped from school, but clearly you can never get away from econometrics, even in the Himalayas of rural Nepal. I had milk tea (65NPR) and a “chocolate” bun (200NPR), though I detected no hint of chocolate. After a lazy 45 minute break, I was back on the trail by 9am.

Arrived at high camp at 10am and took another being-lazy break for some milk tea until 10:30am. I suppose I was feeling quite burnt out after the 3 preceding days.

It was 2.5 hours until arriving at Thorong La Pass at 1pm. It felt good to arrive after all the times I had looked up, expecting to be closing in on the pass, only to find it farther away. I was puretty burnt out, but was amazed at the lack of symptoms of having ascended to such high altitude so quickly. Only 3.5 days before, I was not far above sea level in Besi-Sahar and now I was at 18,000ft. I made sure I did not have any sort of cerebral altitude sickness by 1) saying the first 3 words I could think of beginning with a given letter, 2) doing math, 3) reciting poetry, 4) checking to see if I was stumbling while walking. I seemed to pass these tests. I then napped for half-an-hour on the pass, getting a sunburn in the process.

Departed Thorong La Pass at 1:40pm and went down the rather large elevation drop to Multinath (19,000 to 12,000 feet). This took 3 hours and I arrived in Muktinath by 3:40pm. It made a big difference taking the smaller, less obvious people paths rather than the lower grade, wider trails that allowed for donkeys/horses.

It rained for the last 15 minutes heading into Muktinath. I checked out a few places that seemed fine, but lacked any westerners. Some Germans walking down the road suggested I check out their place. It was more expensive and of lower quality than others I had seen, but I decided to stay there anyways (100NPR bed + 100NPR shower + 420NPR dal baht, compared to best price of free room + free shower + 300NPR dal baht.) It was good all the same and I ate with the group of 4 German doctors from Nuremburg doing a fully catered/planned trip that would end in Jomson with a flight back to Pokhara and then to Kathmandu. Next time I would stay at the Bob-Marley Hotel – cheap and with great reviews from other trekkers.

Leave a Reply