Manang to Letdar
After arrival to Manang we finally got a weak-weak internet connection and tried to get more details about earthquake effects. But what we got was simply a panic from all the internet-media and friends. And here I realised that actually nobody knows real state of the trail. If there is somebody who knows, he should be here – among us. So we checked with locals, with ACAP checkpoints – nobody knew 100% true to fact information, but general feeling was that pass is safe. And even snowfall that was covering the pass for the last 7 days stopped.
So on the next day we took a short acclimatisation trip to Gangapurna Lake and then to Chongkor Viewpoint. It took just about 2 hours in total. So after that we got back to our guest house in Manang to chat with other travellers.
After all doubts we started from Manang at 8 am. Our way went first to Yak Kharka and then to Letdar. In total the whole day was just 10 km, but it had ascend of 700 meters. As we started at 3540 masl, it was more then recommended classic maximum for good acclimatisation.
The trail was pretty good. After a long time there were finally no jeeps around. And good weather returned ;) We arrived to Letdar pretty early and had time to play cards and do short acclimatisation side trip.
Letdar to High Camp
As usually we started at 8 am from Letdar. Our first point on the way was Thorong Phedi named Thorong Base Camp as well. It was just 5 km from Letdar with 250 meters ascend. But as you get higher the pace becomes measured and slow. So it took us 2.5 hours to get there.
Thorong Phedi is located at 4450 meters above sea level. And some people stay here overnight and go to the pass right from here. From one side it is better – it is warmer and easier to sleep. From another – you climbed just 250 meters this day and have do 400 meters more on the next. So we decided to continue to the High Camp.
The way to High Camp is said to be the most difficult on the whole trek. It is just 2 km long and climbs 400 meters up. So the incline is pretty steep. Guidebooks say that most part of the climb is by stairs, but at the time we were there I think stairs were covered with snow. So we went up by the series of zig zags. Last meters we just climbed by the rocks.
We arrived at 1 PM. After a short break we went to nearby hill for a small extra to the acclimatisation. As we read in multiple reports it is very cold here in the night. People say – wear everything you have and then sleep in the sleeping bag. We followed this recommendations, but in fact had to sleep just in a basic thermal underwear as our night was pretty warm.
All the day in total was 7 km long with 650 meters ascend.
High Camp to Thorong La to Muktinath
So far it was obviously the most interesting day of the trek. We woke up at 4 am. It was total chaos in the kitchen and dining room, everybody were packing, having some kind of breakfast. We tried to order some tea but finished up by getting thermos of hot water ourselves from the kitchen.
Finally at 5 am we started. The way was changing from climbs to some flats and climbs again. Some were more steep others were relaxed. But all the pace was extra slow. Step – breath in, step – breath out. And stop each 10 minutes to rest.
There were around 50-60 people leaving High Camp at that day. The groups changed their order on the trail, some were faster, some – slower. But everybody were heading towards single goal – Thorong La. We reached it at 8:30, in 3.5 hours. And it was amazing. 5416 meters above sea level.
From the all trekkings and climbs I learned a lesson – take pictures on the way to your goal, don’t wait for the peak to take pictures there. Usually the way is more spectacular then the goal itself. So I try to follow this rule and keep camera always ready for the picture ;)
After passing Thorong La we started our descend. Long and exhausting descend. First to Charabu and then to Muktinath. All in total 1616 meters down, 10 km long. In Charabu we stopped for a breakfast-o-launch and to change all the layers that were on us.
All the rest of the road from Charabu was pretty boring. When we reached Muktinath, first that we thought about – maybe we should continue? Muktinath is just a dumpy place, with nothing to do at all. At ALL! So if you are brave enough it is better to go to Kagbeni, for example.
Muktinath to Jomsom
After Muktinath there are a few trails that you can take. On of them goes via Kagbeni and takes one more day, as you most probably would like to stay a night in Kagbeni. Another goes directly to Jomsom. We took the second one. And what I may say is that it is even possible to shortcut it by using a jeep. Maybe because of weather, but I didn’t really enjoyed this part of the trail. It is not much to see around, many jeeps passing by making clouds of dust…
So it is just 19 km of boring walking, descending for 1080 meters.
After Jomsom the trail continues. But we did shorter version of Annapurna Circuit and took a flight from Jomsom to Pokhara. There are 2 flights per day around 6 am. Some days they might be cancelled because of strong winds. In this case you may wait for next day or walk to Pokhara.
All in all the trail is amazing! It goes to the Top 10 Treks of my own edition. It was 9 purely trekking days, about 130 km and ±5300 meters of altitude difference.