Himalaya Part II – Faraway, So Close!

Tag 4 – Time to say farewell: from Tadapani (2647m) to Chomrong (2130m)

I already had to say goodbye to Andrea and Babu, the night before. Those two had to start their trek before sunrise, to be able to reach Kathmandu on the same day. Of course, Andrea didn’t walk away without leaving a farewell. When I timidly opened the door of my room later this morning, a sheet of paper was in my still wet hiking boots. How else could it be, the number 200 was written on it. The number, which brought always a smile in our face: So only 200 steps more…not that far any more. 😉

After the breakfast I also had to say goodbye to Laura and Teresa. From now on Kumar and I were on our own. We started our way around 9am, down the stairs. You got it right, we went a long way steeply downhill. It did not only hurt in my frail knees. You also ask yourself why the fuck we go down all these steps, if you still have to go about 2.000m in altitude more up. You can be sure, the meters you go down, you have to go up extra. And that was exactly what happened. We arrived at a huge chain bridge, which was also the starting point to hike up. I didn’t have my best day, so I had to puff like a grampus. Every step was an agony. The burning sun didn’t really help as well. I was delighted when we reached the tee house for our lunch. A bit of Dhal-Bhat-Power was exactly the thing I needed. The amazing view on the surrounding “hills” and the cold breeze which cooled my sweaty and maltreated body a bit down also helped.

Fortunately, it got a bit easier after the lunch break. Just slightly up and down, the famous “Nepalese flat”. We took another break and I got myself a little coke-sugar-thrust, when a four-legged friend joined Kumar and me. The dog followed us almost all the way and brought the new formatted trio quickly in danger. Namely because we had to pass 2 grazing buffalos. When we just passed them, they looked at the dog right behind us and started to attack. I only heard Kumar shouting: “Run!” And we took to our heels to flee from the 2 horned monsters.

The lungs burned after this 100m sprint, which would make even Usain Bolt green with envy. And lastly, a steep ascent was waiting for us. With great effort we made it finally to Chomrong, the last bigger village on the way to the basecamp, which even had a German bakery. In our domicile for the night I got the first really good coffee since days. Cappuccino to be precisely. I enjoyed it after an ice cold shower with the view on the snow-clad mountain peeks, you could spot between the clouds. But the most important thing was still to do that day. I needed an internet connection to reach my deer cousin Philipp and congratulate him to his 30th birthday. Happy birthday old geezer! 😛

Day 5 – From the hills into the mountains: Chomrong (2130m) to Himalaya (3567m)

It was still about 2.000m in height between us and the Annapurna Basecamp. We planed to take our last stop in the tiny “village” with the apt name Himalaya (maybe village is too much for 3 houses). First, we had to walk a bit downhill and pass again a herd of buffalos. This time by balancing on a wall. After that the climb, which laid in front of us was as exhausting as expected. I had a much better day than 24h before, although it was still really hard to make my way up there in the drizzle. Anyway, I was glad to take a break and fill my body up with some Dhal-Bhat-Power, coke and coffee. We had still 2,5h to go, but from now on mostly “Nepalese flat”. So there was time to enjoy the beautiful way, passing lots of waterfalls and balancing over small wooden bridges. I really enjoyed this peaceful silence, with the soft sound of the dropping water in the back. Other people were really rare at this part of the trek. Kumar explained me, in main season it is totally different. Then, you even have to be glad to get a bed in one of the tea houses.

Together with this amazing landscape, the sun came out again. Which was beautiful to see but not so good for the sweat glands activity. We tried to walk in the shadow of the trees, knowing that we were about to reach the hardest part of the day. Tons of steps ahead of us, namely from the steepest species. My legs hurt and the muscle pain sent greetings, but I was in a really good mood. We were good in time and reached Himalaya already about half 2. Enough time to put the feet up and prepare for the last stage to ABC. I granted myself a hot shower and wrapped me up in my bed. My winter sleep was only interrupted by a short, but as alway very nutritious, Dhal-Bhat-session.

Day 6 – Up to the Basecamp: From Himalaya (3567m) to Annapurna Basecamp (4130m)

The day of all days begun, with the goal in sight! Today we would reach the highest point of the journey and get rewarded for all the hard work. Let’s go to the Basecamp on 4.130m in altitude. I never in my life was closer to the sun. The 1st part, before we took a short tea break after 1,5h, was pretty hard with some really steep ramps. From there on, it was fairly pleasant. I recognized that the landscape changed slowly. Instead of thick woods and tropical heat you could already feel the fresh air and the magic of the big mountains coming closer. Even Kumar stopped talking about hills. We walked along the rapid stream (because of raining season) between the unreal mountain scenery, getting closer and closer to the basecamp. But before we finally got up there it came thick and fast in the end. Anything else would have been just too easy, wouldn’t it? We wanted to take our lunch break at the Machapuchare Basecamp. But between the basecamp of the almost 7.000m high mountain Machapuchare and us were still thousands of pretty steep steps. Maybe one of the hardest parts of the whole trip ended at 3.400m in height with a long-awaited dish of Dhal Bhat. It was almost done. Unfortunately, only almost. There was still 700m more up to go. But everything in proper time. I first had to gain some energy and took a short sun bath. Not the best idea, I recognized soon. The sun is way more stronger up there and so I got sunburned already 5min later on my usually snow-white upper legs. 😀

With a thrill of anticipation we hiked the last meters up. The starting rain was more a blessing than a curse for the upcoming efforts. After a while we saw the first roofs in a distance. A little later I saw something amazingly beautiful. The most beautiful sign I ever saw. „Namaste Amazing Annapurna Basecamp“, was written on it. A dream came true! The deed was done!!!

The basecamp is effectively between 2 amazing panoramic views. On the one side you can see i.a. the Annapurna I, the 10th highest mountain in the world and the one with the less ascents of all the 8.000m peaks, because it is one of the most dangerous ones. Kumar thinks it is the 2nd most dangerous peak after K2. On the other side you can see i.a. the peak of Machapuchare, the so called “fishtail”. Together with the other surrounding mountain monsters the view is studded with 6,7 and 8.000m peaks. The only thing is that you need some luck with the weather to get the perfect look. The day before we arrived it was that bad, that you couldn’t really see anything. So a lots of people stayed an extra day in the camp.

Kumar and I had a bit more luck. Already at the afternoon we arrived, we got a decent view on the Machapuchare-side and even Annapurna I peeked a bit through the clouds. My camera glowed. Unfortunately there was no possibility to charge my battery up there. The coldness (and I guess also the millions of pictures I took) reduced the life of the battery. I tried to extend its life a bit by warming it up with my body warmth. I drunk a delicious tee and waited for my dinner in the big dinning room, which was the only heated room in the camp. I took spaghetti with tuna sauce instead of the obligatory Dhal Bhat. A bit variety, as I did not need that much energy for the way back…

After the dusk, temperatures converged threatening close to the 0-degree-border. Happily I went to bed, still with all my warm clothes on and a thick wool blanket covering my whole body. Hopefully it will be clear the next morning and we will have a great view on the peaks, I prayed…

Day 7 – The Day of all Days: From ABC (4130m) back to Upper Sinuwa (2253m)

The wonder begun shortly after midnight. I laid comfortably under the warm blanket (the battery of my camera still in my pocket) when worst case occurred. I had to pee. When I couldn’t hold it any more (not that I didn’t try) I had to go out in the cold. But when I looked up in the sky I was jolly glad about my urgency. 😉 I was almost about to ask who forgot to put out the light. The night sky was so full of stars, I never saw something like this in my life before. They seemed to be within reach. Despite the nascent stiffness of my neck, I could not avert my gaze from the sky. I wish I could have freeze it. But the only one who froze was I and so I headed back under the warm blanket. A good omen for tomorrow morning?

Clearly yes. After dawn, the clouds seemed to stop existing. All around such a crystal-clear view, you can only dream about. I had no idea where to look first. The release of my camera almost melted till the battery finally died. But at this moment I had taken every possible shot umpteen times. How lucky! Kumar told me, the weather is usually not that good and especially clear at this season…

In a perfect mood, I enjoyed my coffee in front of those unreal surrounding and tried to burn this view in my retinas. After breakfast it was time to say goodbye to the camp. Time to go down. First, the same way back, with the small but subtle difference, that we had to walk the steps mostly down. A long day ended in Upper Sinuwa when we already passed MBC, Himalaya and Bamboo on our way. Uphill we needed 2 days for the same trek.

Like usual the sun showed only till noon. During afternoon it mostly started to rain. That day it started really heavy. After a short but steep uphill part from Bamboo to Sinuwa, we ended the hike completely wet in Sinuwa. After more than 8 hours on the trek and hurting legs, I was super glad to finally relax.

Day 8 – Steeply downhill: From Upper Sinuwa (2253m) to Jinhu (1700m)

From Sinuwa we moved on together with a really nice Australian couple and their funny guide, we already met in the basecamp. We had an easy day in front of us. Only 3h on the trek with only one uphill part to Chomrong, where we stayed overnight from day 5 to day 6. I certainly enjoyed the delicious cappuccino there again and looked back on the snow covered mountains. We were finally back in the “hill-region” and reached a bit later Jinhu. We actually planed to go to the hot springs after lunch, but that fell through because of the heavy rain. After all, we were still in rainy season.

Staying at the tee house gave me plenty of time to relax and remember the unforgettable days in the Himalaya range. We had only one day left before we returned to the tourist-town Pokhara and take a bus from there back to Kathmandu. I started to realize that my whole journey is about to end…

Day 9 – Goodbye Himalaya: From Jinhu (1700m) over Nayapul (1127m) to Pokhara

The really, definite, final, very last part of the trek. We could walk pretty relaxed back to the starting point in Nayapul. Hard to believe that 9 days ago everything started here. I felt a mix of pride and melancholy. But also a big portion of relief to finally made it. The last days were really exhausting but worth every second!

From Nayapul Kumar and I took a bus back to our hotel. We finally did it! One more night in Pokhara before we drove to the capital early the next morning (more than 9h).

It was almost over. 2 more nights in the well-tried hostel in Kathmandu till I finally went back home. 367 days after I got on the plane from Frankfurt to Reykjavik. Unbelievable how fast this incredibly intense time went by. With a stopover in Muscat, Oman Airway brought me home on German ground safely.

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