Crossing Thorong La Pass, Annapurna trek

Crossing Thorong La Pass, Annapurna trek

Thorong La Pass is the climax point of the Annapurna Circuit at 5,416 metres altitude and one of the hardest things we ever done.

Most trekkers start from Besi Sahar (1,000m) and work their way around the circuit anticlockwise to Pokhara over a 2-4 weeks period. This allows for a break mid way at the village town of Manang (3,550 metres) to acclimatise before heading higher:

Map of the Annapurna Circuit

Map of the Annapurna Circuit – the climax point is Thorong La pass (5,416 metres)

The Annapurna Circuit is one of the most popular treks because of the beautiful Himalayan scenery you pass along the way.  You also pass lots of mountain villages and interact with lots of locals.

We spent 15 days trekking with our excellent guide, Kiran Shrestha who can be contacted by email on: 833@yahoo.com.

Here is a breakdown of our extraordinary journey trekking across the Himalayas:

1. Easy peasy: trekking up to Manang (3,500m)

Our first week involved trekking up to 1,000-3,500 metres.  This was relatively straight forward (as far as altitude sickness symptoms go).  We would normally trek between 6-8 hours a day, covering around 15-20km a day.

This was made more challenging by not having a porter and therefore carrying a load of around 13kg each.  We would rise early to cover each daily trail and by the end of each day (ie after lunch time) we were knackered and were normally in bed by around 8/9pm.

The scenery below 3,500 metres is obviously varied and we passed a lot of waterfalls, vegetation, animals, and, er wild marijuana plantations:

Marijuana selfie near Jagat village

Marijuana selfie near Jagat village (1,300 metres altitude)

Sebastien trekking near Dhikur Pokhari village

Sebastien trekking near Dhikur Pokhari village – 3,200 metres altitude

Thanchowk Seb mountains

Seb admiring the views near Thanchowk village (2,500m)

Yaks near Manang village

Yaks near Manang village at 3,540 metres altitude

At 3,000 metres altitude, we started to see glimpses of various Himalaya peaks:

Sebastien admiring Pisang Peak mountain

Sebastien admiring Pisang Peak mountain (which reaches a peak of 6091 metres)

View of the Himalaya mountain, Pisang Peak

View of the Himalaya mountain, Pisang Peak – 6091 metres high

View of the Himalaya mountain - Annapurna IV

View of the Himalaya mountain – Annapurna IV, which reaches a peak of 7,535 metres

Sebastien crossing a suspension bridge

Sebastien crossing a suspension bridge near Syange village (1,100m)

 

 

2. Acclimatisation at Manang village (3,500m)

We were told symptoms of altitude sickness may start to creep in when you start to reach altitudes from 3,500m.  Whilst we were ok at this altitude, fellow travellers complained of breathing problems at this point and headaches.

At 3,500 metres we stayed at the small mountain town called Manang.

Breakfast with this beautiful view of the Himalayas at Manang village

Breakfast with this beautiful view of the Himalayas at Manang village – 3,540 metres altitude

Most people stay in this town for a day for their bodies to acclimatise to the altitude before trekking higher.

Admiring the view of the Himalayas

Admiring the views of Gunsang Gangapurna (7454m) and Glacier Dome (7069m) with our lovely guide Kiran

Admiring the view of the Himalayas at sunrise

Admiring the view of the Himalayas across the Annapurna range at sunrise

3. Getting harder: trekking from 3,500m to High Camp – 4,800m

Half way through the trek we eventually reached a village called Yak Kharkha (4,050m). The views of the Himalayas now started to become even more incredible:

The views from Yak Kharkha village

The views from Yak Kharkha village – 4,050 metres altitude

The view of Gangapurna Mountain

The view of Gangapurna Mountain, which reaches a peak of 7,454 metres

View of the Himalayas from the Hundred Lama temple

View of the Himalayas from the Hundred Lama temple

The landscape now started to become more arid with much less vegetation:

View of the Annapurna IV peak

View of the Annapurna IV peak (which reaches 7,535 metres)

One of the hardest parts of the entire circuit for most trekkers is the afternoon walk up from the small village called Thorong Phedi (4,500m) to “High Camp” (4,800m).

This was one of the hardest parts for us and when we started to feel the altitude symptoms.  For example, we needed to stop every few minutes to rest before continuing further, panting hard:

Trekking from 4,500m to 4,800m

The altitude sickness started to hit us during the 300m climb from Thorong Phedi (4,500m) to High Camp trek to High Camp (4,800m)

Trekking from 4,500m to 4,800m

The view from 4,800 metres near High Camp

4. The hard part: crossing Thorong La Pass (5,416m)

The starting point for the final climax part of the Annapurna trek is ‘High Camp’, which is 4,800 metres high:

The view of the Himalayas from 4,800 metres high

The view of the Himalayas from ‘High Camp’ base at 4,800 metres

We arrived at High Camp after lunch time and stayed there for the rest of the day.  At 4,800 metres we both started to feel the altitude – breathing for Sebastien and headaches for Stefan.

We found that eating plenty of food solved most problems, along with hot drinks like lemon and honey or mint tea. Our guide even managed to persuade us to drink coca cola to help alleviate headaches – and despite Stefan’s protests (he thinks Coca Cola is toilet cleaner), it worked!

The view from 4,800 metres at High Camp

The view from 4,800 metres at High Camp

The following was the hard part.  We had to wake early to leave at 5am, trek up 600m to the 5,416m Thorong La Pass climax point, then down 1,800 metres to Muktinath village (3,800m).

We had to start early to ensure we avoided the heavy winds that occur at high altitudes in the late morning before midday.

Crossing Thorong La Pass on the Annapurna Circuit - the view from 5,000m

Crossing Thorong La Pass on the Annapurna Circuit

Waking up at 3:30am is hard enough. Waking up at 3:30am at 4,800 metres altitude at High Camp was even harder! The headaches and breathing issues started to kick in as your heart races away to cope with the rising altitude.

Crossing Thorong La Pass with our lovely guide, Kiran

20C Thorong La Pass Stef Seb Kiran Buddhist flags2

We went during peak time for the weather.  Despite this it was cold.  Really cold at 5am and those thick woolly hats, gloves and down jacket were invaluable!

With hindsight we cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for the unfortunate trekkers who fell victim to the freak snow storm just at this point, 4 days after we were there!

We eventually made it to the high point of Thorong La Pass at 8am and were overjoyed! The adrenaline at this point kicks in, which helps with all the altitude symptoms:

Crossing Thorong La Pass - 5,416 metres

Crossing Thorong La Pass – 5,416 metres, with our lovely guide Kiran

Crossing Thorong La Pass

Crossing Thorong La Pass – 5,416 metres high and posing with our flags

Then follows the hard part – trekking down from 5,416m to the village of Muktinath – 3,800m. Oh boy do those walking sticks come in handy at this point!

The view from 5,416 metres

The view from 5,416 metres at Thorong La Pass – the climb down is quite tough

The views as you climb down from Thorong La Pass

The views as you climb down from Thorong La Pass to Muktinath village

5. A well deserved break at Pokhara (800m)

The ending point for most trekkers is the peaceful city of Pokhara. It has a beautiful lake to rent a boat and just relax after a strenuous two weeks trek:

Sebastien's attempt to row our boat across Pokhara's beautiful lake

Sebastien’s attempt to row our boat across Pokhara’s beautiful lake (Stefan did all the work)

Relaxing in Pokhara after a strenuous two weeks trek

Relaxing by Pokhara’s beautiful lake after a strenuous two weeks trek

Relaxing in Pokhara's beautiful lake

Relaxing in Pokhara’s beautiful lake after a strenuous 2 weeks trek

You may also like:

4 Comments

  1. Adil

    so beautiful places, nice trip, guys, I envy)

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks Adil 🙂

      Reply
  2. Amy

    I’m so glad you missed that freak snow storm, from the news footage that looked awful. Your photos are just insanely beautiful; we had originally planned on doing the hike this autumn too but our teaching contracts put a stop to that plan. Hopefully one day we will tackle it though; one of my biggest issues would be the cold I think, I really struggle with that. Well done on not hiring a porter too, I’m impressed that you carried everything yourselves!

    Reply
    • Stefan Arestis

      Thanks Amy!

      Mongolia and Nepal have so far been our stand out highlights and definitely want to return for more trekking here.

      Reply

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Learn to teach english with myTEFL and nomadic boys

travel destinations nomadic boys

travel resources nomadic boys

Mister bnb free credit

Pin It on Pinterest

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive our latest travel stories, exclusive deals, travel tips. We are also offering a free ebook revealing the 10 best apps every gay traveller should have.

You have Successfully Subscribed!