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Old 28th January 2012, 13:45   #1
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Default Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011

This is about a trek I did in Nepal in Oct 29-Nov 8, 2011, called the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. At the outset, many thanks to Deky and Samurai (and the posters on the trek thread here) for their tales of treks. It had never crossed my mind to do a trek before reading their stories, and those on India Mike.


Chris Bonington describes the Annapurna Sanctuary in his 1970 book Annapurna South Face: "Lt.-Col. J. O. M. Roberts, an officer in the gurkhas and a very experienced mountaineer, was the first European to penetrate the Sanctuary, the huge glacier basin to the south of Annapurna. Its only exit is the Modi Khola, a narrow gorge leading down into the foothills and eventually to the plains of India. This is one of the most incredible glacier basins in the world. Its entrance is guarded on one side by the towering spire of Machapuchare, showing on its flank a sheer rock wall leading up to the summit, and on the other side by Hiunchuli, a 21,000-foot ice peak, still unclimbed. From its Christmas-cake summit a razor-edged ice ridge curls round the summit of Modi Peak [Annapurna South] (22,999 feet); from there the basin is contained by a fluted wall of ice, broken by steep rock buttresses, past the Fang and on to Annapurna, whose three huge buttresses, reminiscent of those of the north side of the Grandes Jorasses in the French Alps, dominate the basin. Beyond Annapurna I the wall becomes more broken, with a whole series of subsidiary ridges and peaks jutting into the sanctuary. There is Glacier Dome (23,191 feet), the squat triangle of Ganapurna (24,457 feet) and Annapurna III (24,787 feet), whence the eastern retaining wall of the Sanctuary curves down to embrace Machapuchare."

I wanted to enter here.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1396.jpg


I used to cycle to school for 3 years; that was 13 years back. A motorcycle trip to Leh was my idea of tough trip. It was all very fine, till I got introduced to the world of mountaineering books through Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. I devoured the books, sampled realizations that may be there is merit in trying out non-mechanised sight seeing.

I was checking in as Obese on the BMI index, and was wheeping when I ran up the 9 floors to office. So I scuttled my original plan of Everest Base Camp trek 2 days before I flew out to Nepal.


So to Annapurna it was.

“Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins.

There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.”
― Maurice Herzog, Annapurna (1952, on the first ascent of a 8000m peak, Annapurna)

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1490.jpg

Everything else was to be figured out in Nepal.

Last edited by manolin : 28th January 2012 at 13:51.
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Old 29th January 2012, 08:44   #2
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Default Re: Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011

Whoa..great strat Manolin. Eagerly waiting for your trek log. The teaser pic is beautiful.
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Old 29th January 2012, 16:16   #3
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Default Re: Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011

Your teaser has teased me to no end! Waiting for the full story and pics to unfurl. What an awesome experience this must have been!
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Old 30th January 2012, 10:43   #4
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Wow . . Looks like this this has all the makings of a great travelogue !
Keep it coming ?


Quote:
This is about a trek I did in Nepal in Oct 29-Nov 8, 2011
You chose Oct-Nov for this trek , Its a little bit after the usual trekking season ?
Ain't it ?
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Old 1st February 2012, 02:31   #5
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Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1259.jpg

Pokhara is one of those incredibly easy towns to be in. The tourist area called the 'Lakeside' is pretty well defined, everything one needs is available there, and there is an immediate tourist attraction - the Phewa Lake. The Lakeside is dotted with travel agents offering every way to get your adrenalin up - rafting, trekking, climbing, mountain biking, paragliding..everything which doesn't involve the sea.

I fell for this.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1224.jpg


It was pretty smooth; walk into any travel agent's office, mention trek, mention person's - 1, mention that you want porter/guide, they mention permits (Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP, 200 NP Rs. for Saarc Nations), and Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS, which is not required for Indians), you say Indian, they say lesser price. Done.


Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1404.jpg

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1317.jpg


It was very to start enjoying physical activity. The body protested in all sorts of ways. The mind played with me. Eventually after a couple of days, I started get a hang of it - the fact that all it requires is a rhythm, to breathing, to pace.

Trekking is a beautiful introduction to it. There is no race, every moment paused to catch your breath is an extra moment of mountains that you observe.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1430.jpg

Whenever anyone crosses you on the path, you say Namaste - and you will be responded likewise by everyone - nepali, foreigners.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1399.jpg



The Annapurna Sanctuary trek is basically a straight line trek - you go up to ABC and come back the same way- unlike the more strenous Annapurna Circuit Trek, which circles the mountain. Path goes up and down through all days, it is not a continuous uphill struggle. And there are treats like these on the way Sugar Mama - The Best of Asia 2010 - TIME


It was while eating that cake, on a sunny courtyard with the bag and boots laid down that I met a Tam software engineer who was returning from ABC. He gave me a strip of dispirin to mix with my water to thin blood, and convinced me to go ahead with the trek (after 2 days of trekking I had decided to turn off at Chomrong, to do a simpler Ghorepani - Poon Hill trek). Our man was a star - he had been travelling through Africa, and Asia for 2 years, backpacking away, after a couple of years in the States. On cue that evening, I met 2 gentlemen from Maharashtra, who were also coming back. The feature of this trek is that you keep seeing familiar faces throughout, as you might have a different pace, but there is only one path and everyone going up has to come back.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1872.jpg

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1877.jpg


This area is snowbound through most of winter, so there are few permanent settlements here other than the guesthouses. Dense forests of Rhododendrons, immense views of the enigmatic Macchapucchare lead you on through lots of stone placed through streams. Every path going down feels like nice and forbidding at the same time, you know you will have to go back up the same way. But that should never stop one from pausing at the top of the stairs and feeling happy about the immediate.



Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1386.jpg

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1385.jpg



After a day or two, once you cross 3000m, you start getting a sense of being in the Himalayas. The air feels different. Remnants of winter snow show up next to the path. The vegetation becomes scrubbier. After the final trudge up to Macchapuchare Base Camp (MBC), you feel like ok. I have now arrived at the door step of the real giants of the world. It was snowing at MBC on the day we reached. The day temperature was -5 degrees inside the room, -20 degrees outside. Apparently there was a cyclone in Bangladesh. A reminder that the same wind which hits my village near Puri comes and finally meets its nemesis here.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1478.jpg

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1461.jpg

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_1459.jpg

The walk from MBC to ABC, at 4 am in the morning, with head lamps, slipping-sliding in the snow, to catch the first rays hitting Annapurna South at 6 am. The incredible sense of that comes with standing there at the middle of the bowl, with Annapurna, Annapurna South, Rock Fang in front, Hiunchuli on the left, Annapurna III, Gangapurna on the right, and Macchapuchare on the back. Walking a bit forward, crossing the cairns to mark the passing of various climbers on Annapurna (Anatoli Boukreev being the one readily known). Knowing that one of the leading climbers of the world passed away just 3 days back (With Park Gone, Korea Loses Its Trailblazer - Korea Real Time - WSJ , rescue helicopters searching valiantly, airdropped rescue sherpas saying there is no chance). Walking a little bit ahead, with the clouds rolling in. And finding that you are the last one in front of the mountain when the clouds opened up for a second.

Knowing, finally, that you will come back to the mountains, again and again and again.

That no beach no palace will ever have your soul, or give you solace.

Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011-img_2016_small-size.jpg

Last edited by manolin : 19th February 2012 at 17:29.
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Old 19th February 2012, 17:49   #6
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Default Re: Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011

Note From Team-BHP Support-Team: Thread moved back to Travelogues Section from Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 19th February 2012, 17:55   #7
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Default Re: Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011

Beautiful start to a great travelogue. Wonderful photos to go along with it!
Deep within me, you have stirred some old, lost emotions.

Waiting for more, as the appetite whets.
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Old 20th February 2012, 05:01   #8
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Default Re: Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, Nov. 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by manolin View Post
Knowing, finally, that you will come back to the mountains, again and again and again.

That no beach no palace will ever have your soul, or give you solace.
Lovely narration Manolin. You have aptly described the magic effect of the Himalayas.

It reminds me of my trek to Valley of Flowers and Hemkund Saheb couple of years back. IMO words can not describe the emotions you go through while trekking in Himalayas.

Waiting for more!
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