Nepal, Day 11: Up (570m), Down (90m), Distance (quite some)

Isn’t it great to have the toilet outside at some distance? Not long after sunrise I get up and stumble clueless over rose and golden light on white peaks – the charming view sort of crossed my way even before I had the eyes fully open.

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Sunrise on Annapurna II

Looking south, I see the Annapurna. Looking north shows Yak Peak and Thorong Peak. Looking straight, I see shaggy oxes: Good morning, yaks.

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Good Morning, Yaks!

After 10 trekking days, guess what we will do today? Hiking. Uphill. Not before long our recent home-for-a-night is left behind, covered with fresh snow like frosting on a cake.

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From 4.000m on, cold air and frozen ground remain our companions. Astounding enough, today is the first day that requires more than a t-shirt, even around noon. No wonder that water supply only exists as a singular sensation in each lodge: Located in the warmest part of the building (not far from the kitchen), where inhabitants, porters and guests meet at the one and only tap, brushing their teeth before bed-time. Less useful but more of a beauty is the frozen waterfall we pass by:

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Despite the cold air and thanks to our ongoing sun subscription, the outside tables are yet inviting enough for tea breaks (sort of a contrast to the dark, smoky interior of the rural tea houses). Next to our co-guide Chanda I do feel (and look) a bit like an explorer, heading for undiscovered treasures that are to be found either around or within each traveller that enters the Himalaya.

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Early afternoon comes along with our arrival at the Thorong Phedi lodge – the last stop before pass-day. The owners are sort of alternative, cosmopolitan hipsters: Him, Nepali with dread locks and a black hat + her, migrated from America, looking for the simple life (and probably for the big love she might have found in him). Add some reggae music and trekking tourists from all parts of the world, flavour it with a subtle jumpiness and you have the atmosphere of Thorong Phedi.

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Everybody here is up for the way over “the biggest pass of the world” (quoted on the official Annapurna-map). Most of the tourists have hope, but no idea of how they will react to altitudes above 5.000m. Turning back is always an option, but never welcome (not even for the two out of our group who were courageously reasonable – better save your life than your ambitions).

For the first time, I feel either the nervousness or the height, resulting in a pretty unquiet night. Hence, I lay awake a lot and count the numerous snow-thunderstorms that roar around us, making me grateful for little details:

  1. Fred has been and still is my best buddy for the nights, keeping me warm even around 0° (no surprise for a sleeping bag with a maximum of -43°, though).
  2. It is unlikely to meet bed bugs, mosquitoes or any other annoying blood-sucker around here.

The night is short and ends with a bit of surprise at 4 am…

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Instead of counting Thunderstorms, I should have (mentally) counted Yaks…

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