You don’t really conquer a mountain, you conquer yourself”

Humble words by a famous climber. How true. So here we were, closeted inside a dimly-lit, cold and cramped 4-bedded room with no other furniture. We were only too eager to get up and going over the pass to conquer ourselves.

At 4am the next morning, while it was pitch dark and freezing cold (like 7-layers-of-clothing kind of cold. I didn’t check but it couldn’t have been anything less than -5Cº, maybe even -8Cº) we headed out towards the hardest part of this 7km section – 2kms of winding, steep, narrow and gravelly switchbacks.

By now, the trail was clearly marked, not by the sun, but by a snaking column of hikers’ headlights as they slowly trudged their way towards the top.

Even with padded thermal gloves on, I was quickly feeling the severe cold bite into my hands and feet. How cold, you ask? Well, the water dripping out of the nozzle of my water bottle froze into a icicle before gravity could take over. It was hard going.

One by one, the hikers overtook us. It was no fun pushing a fully-loaded bike up this punishing trail. Only the raw, rugged spectacle of nature’s imposing beauty surrounding us made it worth the while.

thorong pedi, thorong base camp

Richard is ready to roll

 

5FCQRoS-JB2fmwN_bARH4FRDVuqN9nASf7VmwUVZjyqrnesp9sL7MSPO-6ZU1yao8piNt_ZJHDUZSuaUBH_AtfIEOiyw0341Plm-6-Ri7fc3Q5yEmIt8AgEXU_Tg9Gr2jMXNraPMkPN0pPYAXZrENtY68oOSjP3p0bsxacK8xhxCOdL18PNqHNBh01

Don’t even bother trying to ride the first 2kms

 

t7CE-oKN1KEE1J2B_sJc5M28Ld1eC-Ky9D8CEi6ErS_GMfOqljgdyYJm5X1lrldqER53v4hHEjgl2WwBNTcjbwGl7Wx2oh9PfNhEXJoxRXOyfJPVHY-amQLoJxlImAGB-bMcQrSYBc0r5FNtvHgmvAs04rlZ6oh0b7QPX02aoFna017XsZRiiI1rHl

Hiking is definitely faster than biking

 

Zx-OAevlpXyy2FdEyqhc8m-PBtkVpw37AX7FWxps94OhpzxehSjjl1WAolYt6OoYFReeQ5FDvG75hbLLOyEtewszRXoyg0-Pl_u50mIpUnm0qZYX7-7hw9YmU1XyStnPKzgY-7Yx3P6ezau14bYQCVBoXVDTTpL6S0KeYGvNwMEWo1uRxZCg3tdR5Q

 

UCYWsmbhNbejylZAX3fKUUrFl4SzRNH-q2hlpCkGuv1mb87TCfAE0dRt8PmZr3nnXdIUZPK4YWk68CnChbBP22QqI5fFPs3IFCGIn1m53Ppz6ahOnjlJaG9IjRkOSeeyMIPq-ZS1szxEWvsjvYEZAiVFaSYsrM_cpkPxYqHJH5TMtg-1VQuA4sNQeR

ko17aUgeTLtzYwLJ7gBD_1Dru1q8Mq-n05EegG0hhBVi69uKX2h7x6zZplhmWqZjwqSDHuM87e5__CyJS1nTYS7UI479NLu5YLJVNUwfEGu6W62mPOkSUglJ9zo-KOXvsFWaA6URAPcwMi2l8lCgQABxqEqnYYWccdbXOTpv7gOMeYbpwulPXmNdAt

You know it’s cold is when water dripping down the bottle freezes before it hits the ground

 

KIf__m7k7znzmDRLxkN90xA9c35r28XCJKNg2WTWyN-uAMS2xxs_GboV3quIsFGdjDeY21xWt7BT4hXrGKRdSPql4PBP5bItRrdpQhSY7B4s8xWADab03i9VhA_PW99Gv550aA7yWSnE1qizsqwA0pg9j7908FllR1EVS1cyLDpgscpiQ-3mMtzrPo

To cut some hiking time up to Thorong La, some hikers stay 2kms further up at this, the last and highest hotel on the Annapurna Circuit. It’s a real dump, literally.

 

hZ_flV5tH2K9eZhBCrP3uIfoWFby95brC2xFvK6avwh3I_A25PK3V766j622ZuXi_sHGE8rJq2Tkx53wBfh6zI4wTr1Ft-WgOFxRLf_obLnuv1WIKYwOrEkdZ_I3nf-U0XrKaEu0T1w_6zUfRhjETAHgVlygIoFNq8ltcVa3WkU_oxQhGyePnEjSKJ

Breathtaking views take on new meaning here at this oxygen-starved altitude.

 

LNltHsjwSKNGP-v-6M62Slgf5zs5DmAQUObdXm8__yg6KB2jvxWhOs9Ae56ERvJRKIbtm6sNYeemw9o2EXZveBWXfyENgSC0hcjFp8cqP1wYNV6Kom1DdEqE449EClb2YOF7lVabgsWSePbukugM_glf2h0Ju1ryYKgvCYCGK3oBwnFf33EVkb40_D

The change in scenery is often very dramatic.

 

QTuBMWynntgn2u-e_-UuY8nhH124eHC55_xDX_IYfo8SjvprECTbtMMjKIugs-oG1hLp3-SAx2RfqDAVc8zpvvf87XOiiQQ5TVL5kP8hWKlhbO6fwSG-bI9iwMID5O8gRU6-iYFLg-SnkJybigETWPkWdrbUMU4MhQZ42H82LEWTPekyRTvJgKDWWv

 

ur2yo1gMkvFH9fHMwfeMsFtRUJJmdTLidsRwcken-J9kQ7J_W7QiOzThq3zS8Y8iTuN-zUG4nQDEO5Lh21sOgcrN0QBrDi4L5ouetiyftdIhyUmiK3ak6CHXejm1vDekwMvnBMCAsS7iqA35QtSBbm4QeTXTdN7hSqrLTAbGdmpT38LWP_IyoS7-dz

Joy is finally reaching Thorong La after 8.5 gruelling hours (for me anyway), mostly pushing my bike. I arrived some distance behind my young friends.

 

jX3dr-wNW_-fUDGdqFuPNs3kLFwz7PSjClFB5tDkJVuL02Pt6Z8gosN1ZAl7T1ayx8Im90Bqalgb9YC-hAtaiIrpFkQxbnUytlTXoWUcrDqpUThpv2sb9fso75XuRF29Wt1wCv3857TMw_o4O3RL4Ioe4ufsTYSHsn1Z3B7vuEQD3Yqlk9_uXIpXc2

Tired, totally spent but immensely happy. Good thing the sun was out to warm things up a bit.

 

o_sa_gF3tQ8g7ZWwIpllj_1XjtAj4WCMUYCbZuB8rcnOLwH7YTMNBuxaVxf8XdHRwQLUDivHyBti0sCKNh0WA8S6dEtJQCYut7I1DP4OZ8nOzG0zAPnEzUlKOQHAZiDfAqxjBFf-O-x2bQxIIQi7zVl9LEEC0StHLLJmcYEFPRRF2T9OjNXir6T9bi

Mike P celebrates.

 

M4HewtI1S8iLeshBiq9jbE2uMX22mA92TDqciM7ItlJ4JF4acdJiAS2rmYl_XkLLlQysIZCvOBiqRK0LD7zK6efzGBGyNdZVv9-2JM1tAfoJ4XWr-EMeaoJKdZ7JlG_osS93TzWWMNFDUCIudErd9h9FUbTEU9WlD87vUwxt10_7EInmPSunZWymft

I had no doubt I would have made it as a solo effort but when you have good friends along for the ride, it’s anytime more fun and more encouraging for each other. Annapurna is no walk in the park if you do it on 2 wheels.

 

snq8VpN0Lk3DIf4RWd90-Kx9rCqGq7mI8kV-28Op9g691YZ5Hj_A4MDPdnKp62XGTEW5XyrXNl5upFuSbbeN5_w-DF1IMVbcghq6ifDNyiMuulQc0K7R_dtnH2reWI4Lf8iYo2xOao66Zy6KHEqZGqdfGDQHwyMq4EGci9t31wPZl_mBF3cWre6LpP

We rolled down the mountain reaching the first semblance of civilisation in the village of Muktinath (3,710m) in just three hours. Gravity is no longer a foe but a good friend. Even so, we were careful, choosing instead to walk our bikes on some sections that were narrow and covered with loose gravel. Sudden braking meant a very long drop down the sheer mountain face – not the climactic ending we were looking for.

 

AgXXbQ7aZi2gSpxmSrfftYAboWL0pc0fjjsy2FRy33f28Jcym1ygBJi8zb4tAg6YJy9P6TX00jImc2xVN-8D5P3DtkOmL-DbX0KrdgrbbaCucI_Z4B2WFKUMnjJtJcb0khX2YVJ7tNuw5uNqlRhgJN3Te7elPTI9AxRQHiA4A63mYEpcpi5yEMqRH7

We decided to lodge at this masterpiece of a hotel. Time for a well-deserved break, and hot showers. We were beginning to feel a little skanky…

 

zjOjt5eU4ZHa5E4eOmxvCw6PJHzI_5kaY_AUXTcdxexD7-102fXG0JSlsNHtHvB8H85GFhj34IEjEybrFTO3yncdGIftBFEja530qPnN6tdWt6yR1NpYZrKLPM0whapMEHb1mwXOX6sBGYK2U0pYiJ6tt3yVDwv-3AY950jlcDyW4XMKp6W5E-Kh2v

Next: Pokhara, and then back to Kathmandu and home.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s