October 11, 2008:
Himalaya (2,920 m) to Annapurna Base Camp (4,130 m)
Got up at 6:30 am, breakfast was at 7:15 am and we left at 7:45 am despite Suzi being a procrastinator.
Bharat had left at 6 am and we were not in a hurry as we hoped that he would get up to Annapurna Base
Camp early enough to get us a room. After Himalaya we continued through forest for a while until we
almost reached the Hinku Cave.
Hinku Cave was a landmark for many of the earlier Annapurna I expeditions which used it as an overnight
spot and often also as a supply depot. We continued to Deurali which we reached at 9 am.
Shortly after Deurali the avalanche area began. In times of snow and rain this can be a dangerous area as
the cliffs at both sides of the valley are very steep and avalanches are a frequent occasion especially in
the spring. We did not have to worry when we were there. After a while, the valley opened up and we
could see of Macchapucchre to the right and Gangapurna ahead of us. The trail climbed steadily. After a
while, the sun disappeared and it became cold and windy.
At 11 am, we reached the Macchapucchre Base Camp. There are several lodges here which are built in
identical shape. We went into one of them for lunch. Preparation of lunch took forever and we did not
leave Macchapucchre Base Camp before 12:30 pm.
The trail now got a little steeper, but still not bad.
After a while we saw Bharat sitting on the side of
the trail. He was waiting for us and told us he got
another 3 bedroom for us at ABC. We continued
our hike up the glacier moraine and were at ABC
at 2 pm. It was cold and cloudy. We dropped off
our stuff in our room and went into the dining
room for some tea.
Later in the afternoon, all of us went
outside. First we went to the Anatoli
Boukreev Memorial. Boukreev was a
well known mountaineer who played
a role in the 1996 Everest disaster
described by Jon Krakauer's
bestselling book "Into Thin Air".
Boukreev died in an avalanche at
Annapurna I on December 1997. On
his memorial is also a plaque of Ian
Clough, a member of the English
climbing team around Chris
Bonington who were the first ones
to scale the Annapurna I South Wall
in 1970. Clough died on the descent
on the lower section of the wall.
(One of my favorite books:
Annapurna South Face by Chris
Bonington and dedicated to Ian
Clough). Lots of climbing history up
here!!!
All of us continued to walk up the glacier moraine from where we had a good look down onto the glacier.
The clouds started to lift more and more. First we saw Machhapucchre appear and then, all of a sudden,
Annapurna I's South Wall appeared. Magical! However, after a while, the sky became grey again and the
clouds obscured the views.
Suzi and David decided they had not had enough
exercise for the day and started to climb up the
side of the valley. Of course, there were no views,
but they wanted to get up there anyway. I, on the
other hand, thought it is time for tea, so I went back
to the lodge instead. Close to dinner time a sudden
scream: "Look at the sunset on Fishtail". I went
outside and took a few pictures. It was beautiful.
Back into the crowded dining room.
There were 3 Dutch families there with all
their kids ranging from 2 - 10 years old.
Of course, the smallest and whiniest of
them all was sleeping right next to us in
our room with only a small wooden wall
separating us. Dinner was not bad but I
was tired and cold and went to bed at
around 8 pm. It was the only time on this
trip that it was really cold outside.
An hour later, as I was dozing off while listening to my i-pod I heard Bharat's voice: "Andreas, get out of
bed, full moon, no cloud and lots of mountains". Reluctantly I dragged my butt out of my comfy bed, but
was I glad I did. The moonlit amphitheatre of the Annapurna Sanctuary around us was absolutely magical!
Hinku Cave
Deurali
Anil and Som resting
Suzi and David at Macchapucchre Base Camp
Annapurna I