Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12D Epic Trek of Annapurna Basecamp, Nepal (4130m) 31Oct - 12Nov, 2013


On the way to Annapurna Basecamp (the background of Annapurna South 7219m)

The reflection of mountain at ABC (4130m)
Can't believe I have been coming to Nepal for the past 10 years and had stepped into this land for 7 times, did twice trekking and keep coming back. It has been always my own personal dream to one day to reach on one of the basecamp. However it remains as a dream for many years.

For many reason, Everest Basecamp (EBC) and Annapurna Basecamp (ABC) sound very challenging to me. Instead of doing it alone, it’s always good to share your dream and achieve together with group of friends. Achieving your own dream is happy, but bringing others accomplish their dream is more joyful.

How it started

My leisurely trip to Nepal last Dec in 2012 had brought dream into a reality. Due to winter season I didn't do any trekking during that time but just did a short simple trek to Sarangkot. I met with a few foreigner on the trip where they shared about their memorable experience trekking to ABC had amazed me. Then I started to collect information, asked my guide and set my mind that I will definately come back in 2013.

Even before I returned home (Malaysia), from the photo i posted on my facebook has attracted some interest from some of my international friends and wanted to join me for my next expedition. Without thinking much I set a date that I will be doing ABC on 30Oct, 2013. 

From one single dream and a single Facebook post, it was expanded to my friends from 5 countries - Singapore, Laos, Thailand, Brunei and of course Malaysia. Finally 11 of us started this epic journey to ABC....

Why Annapurna Basecamp

Many knows about Everest but not many know about Annapurna. Unless you are a regular trekker. 

Along the Himalaya range,  the Annapurna Sanctuary  is well-known as one of the most scenic trek. There are several trekking trail that suits individual fitness. The basic trail will be Ghorepani, the moderate trail will be Annapurna BaseCamp (4130m), while the extreme and longer duration will be the Annapurna Circuit (21days) that reach over 5000m.

ABC trail will be suitable for trekker with moderate fitness, while 1st timer who have done Mount Kinabalu trek or some small trekking trip in China or South East Asia can consider this trail.

Choosing the route to ABC was reviewed  few times and finally  a custom made itinerary was ready after consideration of our team fitness, our time spent and also weather. End October was chosen to avoid peak season which is between Sept-October, we wanted to avoid the crowd (where guesthouse at MBC and ABC will be occupied by other groups). And instead of doing a day trip from MBC to ABC, we wanted to spend night at both basecamp.

The scenery from MBC to ABC was truly breathtaking and took only 2-3hours. You can spend the rest of the afternoon relax, walking to nearby viewpoint, enjoying the marvellous mother nature and with 360degree of snow mountain view. 

Training and preparation

The whole planning and preparation started almost 11months, It stated since January 2013. My last trekking trip was in 2008, therefore I need to train up gradually. Some started training on their own since March 2013. Early physical preparation is essential to build up some muscle and  allow our body be ready for long trekking hours. Some started hill climbs, some started stairs climb, some train in gym room, some went to Mount Kinabalu. Somehow  some started only 2 months before the trip.  We can only train our physical fitness but not high altitude fitness.


Packing list 


1.Get yourself a good pair of trekking shoes 
It is the most important gear in  the  trip. Not advisable to  wear newly bought trekking shoes. Do  wear it very frequent prior to the trip. And not forgetting to have a good soft trekking socks.

2.Get a good quality windbreaker and downjacket
Invest in good quality one, because a good one will makes alot more different when it come to extreme and unpredictable weather during the trip. 

3.Get 2 walking stick 
2 better than 1. It helps alot to balance your walk, to rest your leg when tired. 

4.Essential layer of clothing
Different altitude require different layer of trekking outfit. 
Example : Thermal Wear, Fleece, Goretex Waterproof pants
Brand : Uniqlo, Columbia, North face 

Nepal an adventure haven

Boudnath Stupa, Kathmandu
Nepal has not much change since I first stepped on this land 10years ago. Especially the international and domestic airport. The domestic airport somehow looks more like a fish market to me. Where there seems to be no system, somehow they manage to fly thousand for locals and trekkers to many parts of the cities smoothly everyday. Sometimes it’s best to not know how it works, and it will work out well.

Flight delays are common in Nepal. Therefore you don’t see frustrated passenger show tantrum to airlines staffs. Everyone seems to adopt to the local culture and wait patiently. No wonder Nepal has this famous quote N.E.P.A.L (Nepal Everlasting Peace And Love).

I specially give due respect to Nepali Pilot. I think they are the best pilot, because flying with unpredictable weather condition really require very good skill. Whenever I fly domestically in Nepal, I will always thank the pilot when we landed safely. 

Phokara

Phokara is the 2nd largest city in Nepal and one of the most cleanest and beautiful city compare to Kathmandu. All trekking route to Annapurna region will need to fly to this city as stopover. Throughout my 7times in Nepal for the past 10years, there has been some good improvement such as :-

1.No frequent power cut. In the past, power cut of 4-5hours a day is very common. 

2.WIFI everywhere. This is a big improvement, where there is WIFI everywhere although not all Hi-Speed

3.less street beggars.   

4.No cows lying around everywhere in the middle of the streets.

5.Living standard among the local has improved. 

Our trail 
We chose a more relax trail ascending and descend via the steep and challenging trail.

Our trail
Ascending : Nayapul - Birenthati - Grangruk - Chomrong - Doban - MBC - ABC
Desceding : ABC - Bamboo - Jhinu Danda - Syauli Bazar - Birenthati - Nayapul 

The Trail - Killer Steps of Chomrong and Jihnudanda
Thousand steps of Chomrong
These 2 checkpoint given us a cold sweat.
Chomrong  is where we have to walk through thousand steps, uphill and downhill. Average took us 45mins to complete.

Jihnu does not have thousand steps, but the steepnest is enough for a challenge. It’s steep and short obviously no flat place to land your feet. Even the fittest among us Inthy felt the challenge.

The Trail - The 1,100m ascent

Mid Altitude trail

The most challenging trail among all is on the 4th day, where we have to ascent 1,100m from Dovan (2600m) to MBC (3700m).

Ascending from mild altitude entering into the start of high altitude zone. We can see the changes of vegetation along the way and the snow mountain peak of Machaphuchere or better known as fishtail is clearly seen this day.  

It was consider the most tiring journey throughout the 9days trek. The trail was mostly gradual ascending, crossing few streams, walking in jungle, then as we ascend higher, we actually walking on the side of the cliff where the emerging of snow mountain was getting clearer and closer. 

Machaphuchere Base Camp (3900m)

Machaphuchere Basecamp guesthouse

Annapurna Base Camp (4130m)
Annapurna Base Camp guesthouse
It was snowing heavily 3 days before we arrived. The temperature was between 5-8degree during the day and dropped to -5C during the night. It was truly freezing cold and many can't sleep. Not advisable to take shower at this altitude and weather. 

On our summit day, the snowing stopped and we were lucky to see an amazing blue sky. 

Imagine being surrounded by peak of the Himalaya Range - Hunchuli Peak (6,434M), Annapurna 1 (8,091m), Machhaphuchere Peak (6,997m), Annapurna III (7,555m) 


Food and diet

Dhal Bat (Nepali famous dish)
Trekking life in Nepal is such a luxury – our everyday routine is 6,7,8 (6am wake up, 7 breakfast, 8 start trekking).  Thus the code of 6,7,8 has been in our mind.

Trekking life in Nepal is also luxury as we have good food until we don’t know what to order.  Lots of choices in the menu  - you can’t imagine that they serve PIZZA with different topping “tuna with cheese, oinion with tomatoes etc!... And even Grilled Chicken at guesthouse at lower altitude (below 3,000m)

However Garlic soup, Fried Rice, Dhal Bhat, Fried Noodle, honey lemon  has the highest demand among us.

At 3,000 and above where we enter into  their special management zone – No Pork, No Chicken, No buffalo meat, No lamb. Yes, we were being reminded through a few signage   

Water consumption


We were advised by our guide to use water purifier tablet (available at pharmacy in Phokara) in our drinking water. As from Chomrong until ABC there is no mineral water available, we will need to take tap water and purify with the tablet and furthermore he can't guarantee how clean is the boiling water at each guesthouse. At certain altitude, water can only boil 80 degree.

However not everyone used to such tablet. Sometimes it can upset our stomach and cause diarrhea. Just have to be careful. 

Hot Shower

At the height of 3000m, with the cold temperature of below 10C, how nice to dip ourselves into a hot bath tub. But this hot shower is not FREE, everytime we shower, we have to pay USD1.50 (Rp150)

We were already very happy to have hot shower at all our guesthouse. 
Not yet....not to be too happy, because different guesthouse has different heater system and we all often got confuse how to operate it and end up some may get 21C, some lucky one get 46C… haha. That is the fun of shower on the trek. !!


WIFI

Is this what you look for?
This come to me in big suprise.  WIFI at the height of 3700m! But again, nothing is FREE, average Rp200-Rp400 depend on the elevation, the higher the elevation the more expensive. And take note, it’s more expensive than shower!

Good and bad to have latest technology in such a natural environment. 


Altitude sickness


It's hard to determine who will be affected with altitude sickness. Even regular trekker may sometimes affect by altitude sickness, while the oldest and less fit may not be affected at all. It’s all depend on individual body adjustment to the altitude.

Among our team, I was the only one affected by a mild sign of altitude sickness. The severe headache had hit me on and off on the day of ascending to ABC. It felt like your brain is going to explode. Want to know how was that feeling? Try drink a few hard liquer and got hangover, that's the feeling...hehe

When one unable to get enough oxygen to reach the tissue of our body (brain, lung). To prevent it, we should be relaxed and reduce activeness in our activity. When sympton does not goes off, better to descend. 

Hypothermia
It’s a condition of which the body temperature drop below 35C due to expose in an extreme cold weather. As body temperature decreases, characteristic symptoms occur such shivering, lost of fluid and mental confusion.

One of our team member might have been affected by hypothermia. His pant had a zip failure and he was walking at the elevation of 3,000m  over exposing his leg. Due to long period exposing his body to wind and cold weather he might be affected with hypothermia. He was vomiting, and passing out a few times had to be covered with 2-3 blanket . With the lost of fluid in his body, he was too weak to even eat.

I seek advise from our guide and owner of the guest house, and they said he just need to re-gain the heat in his body he will be fine and he was not affected by altitude sickness.

Thank You 

Marvel Travel @ Trek - Mr Dhruba, Mr Damaroo and team
All the porter who carried our heavy backpack throughout the 9 days
All my 10 friends from Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Laos and Malaysia who accompany me on my epic journey. 


Word can never be able to explain how one feel 
An experience that can't be measured with money.
I am glad I did it 
And will do more, by God Grace!


"It is not the mountain to conquer, but it's ourselves"- Quote from Sir Edmund Hillary 


  

2 comments:

suehwey said...

awesome! salute u!

Mt. Everest base camp Trek said...

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek or Annapurna base camp trek
Annapurna Base Camp is one of the best treks of Nepal as it is the combination of splendid natural scenery with the blend of cultures. The major attractions of this place are the Annapurna Himal including Himchuli, Annapurna South, Annapurna, Annapurna II, Annapurna III and Machhapuchhre and many more.
The terraced farmland above Pokhara and the pastures, the deep forests of oak, bamboo and rhododendron provides an alluring sensation. The view of Dhaulagiri and Kali Gandaki is even more appealing. The visit to the inner sanctuary of Annapurna gives you the panoramic views of ten peaks over 6000m. The Natural hot spring at Jhinudanda is quite relaxing.
The ABC is suitable for any trekker who has enough stamina to walk few hours a day. Previous trekking experience is not necessary and one does not need to be super fit. Daily exercise prior to the trip is strongly recommended. February to June and September to December is the favorable time to enjoy this trek.
Trip Facts
• Trekking Duration: 14 Days
• Grade: Medium-Hard
• Maximum Altitude: 5424 m
• Best Seasons: March - Jun, Oct - Dec
• Type of Trek: Lodges / Tea House
• Commences At: Kathmandu
• Ending At: Kathmandu
Annapurna base camp Trek or Annapurna Sanctuary Trek Day By Day Itinerary





http://www.nepalguideinfo.com/Annapurna-Sanctuary-Trek.php
http://www.hikehimalayas.com/trekking-in-nepal/trekking-region/annapurna-region/annapurna-sanctuary-trek.html
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