October 24, 2011: Annapurna Base Camp
After months of anticipation, travel to Nepal, and five days of trekking, today was the day we had all been looking forward to — making it to Annapurna Base Camp. We were woken up at 4:00 am and served hot tea. By 4:30 am, we were all on the trail heading out of Machhapuchhre Base Camp. We were bundled up in winter coats and each of us was wearing a headlamp. The Milky Way was above us as our headlamps provided the only light on the ground to follow the trail.
After a short time trekking, David turned around to look at Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail). Just as he turned off his headlamp a shooting star streaked through the sky seeming to strike Machhapuchhre. As we continued our upward climb the tops of the mountains started to come into view in the light of a new day. The stars faded from view and the sky started turning from black to purple to blue.
The Sun Rising over Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail)
We could see Annapurna South in the distance as our group, along with many others, kept on going upwards. Then we turned the corner and before us was the 34 kilometer long massif of Annapurna itself. The seemingly tiny peak of Annapurna sits at 8,091m (26,545 ft), making Annapurna the tenth tallest mountain in the world and one of only fourteen mountains higher than 8,000m. We had been climbing for less than two hours — it was only 6:45 am.
We continued past the guest houses at Annapurna Base Camp and climbed the rocks to the prayer flags. Each of us looked on in awe at the enormous mountains around has and marvelled that we as a group had trekked all the way to ABC. There are no trees, no human structures, and nothing to give scale to the vista that was before us. From where we stood at ABC (4,000m) to the top of Annapurna was four kilometers straight up. Annapurna is the deadliest of the 8,000m peaks in the world. A higher percentage of climbers have died trying to climb Annapurna than any other 8,000m peak. While we stood there, an avalanche let lose and covered a valley more than a kilometer wide. Yet we were so far away that we could not hear anything of the avalanche.
Group At ABC (Marian facing the camera)
Marian Shares with Karalee
Linda and Sandi
Razzu Points out the Sights
Our cook had brought up bread, peanut butter, jam, yak cheese, boiled eggs, and hot, hot tea. We spent an hour and a half at ABC enjoying breakfast, warming up as the sun rose higher, and taking lots of pictures to remember our experience. We were completely surrounded by mountains demonstrating how tiny we are compared to mother nature.
Everyone Eats Breakfast and Looks at Annapurna
Group at Annapurna Base Camp (photo Razzu)
Jan, Karalee, Judy, and Cathy With Prayer Flags
David and Karalee About An Hour After Sunrise
Wearing Down Jackets
Annapurna Base Camp
Dick and Marian
Just after 8:00 am we left ABC and started walking back the trail we had hiked up in the dark. It looked completely different in the light. A broad valley with brown grass and a small stream running down it. We enjoyed the experience as we followed the trail down while all before us, dominating the skyline, was Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail).
Heading Back Down the Valley to MBC
Our Group Snakes Down the Valley
Views of the Mountains as we Hiked Down to MBC
We stopped for lunch at MBC where we had stayed the night before. It was only midmorning when we left MBC and started back down the valley we had hiked up the day before. We were soon in Deurali, where we had stopped for lunch the day before. David and Karalee stopped with a Sherpa to have a hot cup of tea at one of the guesthouses in Deurali. Then it was time to head further down the trail to Himalaya, our destination for the night.
Lunch at Machhapuchhre Base Camp
Machhapuchhre Base Camp After Trekking to ABC (Annapurna South in the background)
(l-r) Linda, Kath, Marian, Jane, Dagmar, Nukhet, Karalee, David, Dick, David, Sandie, Jim, Judy, and Jan
More photos are available in David's Annapurna Sanctuary Photo Set.
Our trip was organized and led by Marian Leighton of Vancouver, BC with local support for our trip provided by Razzu Tuladha of Samsara Journeys based in Kathmandu, Nepal.