Leaving Manang gives you kind of special feeling, as you climb up the trail that will take you up to the pass in few days. The whole first part of this trek you spend a lot of time thinking of the pass, as - at least to me - reaching 5400 m sounded quite unreal and a little bit scary: Will I be able to climb up to so high and will the weather be good enough, what about altitude mountain sickness or your equipment? Will it be very cold? So I left Manang very excited, which was actually good as I perceived the following three days as the most fabulous in my life.
In the beginning the trail is quite steep and looking back you get some good views on the Annapurnas. In front of you the mountains are not covered by glaciers and you can see yaks or sheep grazing although there isn’t much of a grass cover. Already at this altitude you shouldn’t climb for more than 300-400 m per day, so that most of the trekkers decide to stop for the night in Ledtar (4200 m). In Yak Kharka (4000 m) it started snowing. The landscape got white and we hurried on in order to reach Ledtar while still being able to recognise the trail. We worried about whether we would be able to cross the pass.
The day after it was still snowing and there were 10 cm of snow. We started quite early following the traces of the people that had preceded us on the way. The trail is steep again and you reach a tea-house at 4600 m before descending on a tortuous trail down to Thorung Phedi at 4400 m. Actually this piece of descent was horrible, as the trail is really narrow and steep and the snow had made it very slippery and dangerous. Fortunately the lodge is great. I still cannot believe how much food-variety this lodge offers: Mexican food, bakery products, Italian noodles (or at least what they think is similar to Italian noodles ) and the best apple pie with custard I ever had. I don't want to know how they get all the necessary ingredients up there.
The night was freezing, obviously we all had to visit the loo during the night (physiological adaptation process to the thin air) but none of us suffered too much from AMS. It snowed the whole night but as we woke up in the early morning it had stopped snowing and the clouds had gone. Despite the 30 cm snow the group started with a local guide to lead us. The first 400 m were damned hard work. Because of my gastro-enteritis and the antibiotic the first morning hours were always the most difficult for me and my low blood pressure, so the first hour of walking was horrible. You really need to take your time and to find your pace. So did I and after the first slope everything started working well. The views were gorgeous, we walked in an untouched snowy mountain-landscape for hours and enjoyed it a lot.
At 4800 m we reached the base camp, where we had a hot lemon, and at 5000 there was a tea house where the whole group stopped for a further rest. Andrew, the two Danish guys and I decided to go on, so to open the path into an untouched snow cover. That was somehow an exhausting job but we enjoyed it anyway. The four of us alone in middle of the Himalaya. After six hours we finally reached the pass. At the sight of the prayer flags on the pass we started screaming and run towards it. It was done and we were just happy. It was a very good feeling, something that makes you understand why mountaineers do what they do. After some time the others reached us and it was like a little Thorung La party at 5416 m.
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