MBC = Macchapucchre Base Camp
ABC = Annapurna Base Camp
It was a lovely way to start the morning. Waking up at 0500hrs, I stepped out into the brisk, chilly morning air to watch the sky above the mountains slowly light up, illuminating the surrounding snow-covered peaks.
Packing up, we had a good breakfast of milk tea and oat porridge with apple / gurung bread + egg. It seems as though I’m the only person in our group who likes oat porrige. Some claim it’s bland and tastes like cardboard. Ah well.
We hurried in our jackets through the snow-covered avalanche area. The icy trail was well-trodden but still slippery and on more than one occasion, my feet slipped out from under me.
Tip: If you fall backwards, don’t try to brace your fall with your hands. It’s a recipe for wrist injury. Instead, relax and let your comfortable day bag absorb the brunt of the impact. Enjoy the view of the sky, make some snow angels then get up before you get wet from the snow.
I followed closely on one guide’s tail and we arrived at MBC at 0930hrs, roughly 2.5hrs after we had left Deurali. It had an good trek with variable terrain up and down with snow, mud, rock to walk on.
During lunch, no one seemed to have any obvious signs of altitude sickness such as headache, loss of appetite, so on and so forth, so we decided to press on towards ABC after lunchtime.
Unfortunately, while the snow is nice and packed during the morning, by afternoon the warm sun which allows us to walk in T-shirts has melted the snow somewhat, creating a sort of slush that made walking a bit more difficult. The important thing we did was to pick our steps carefully, making sure the snow is packed before stepping onwards. Sometimes, though, we’d step up to the knees in snow.
Tip: 3 things you’ll need for this last stretch to ABC. Firstly, a good pair of UV-blocking polarised sunglasses… the glare from the snow is very fierce and you could get snow-blindness. Secondly, a good UV-blocking sunblock… the wide-brimmed hat won’t save you from the powerful reflections from the ubiquitous snow. Thirdly, a good pair of waterproof trekking boots or you’re going to have terribly cold feet.
We left MBC around 1140hrs and arrived at ABC around 1345hrs. While I didn’t quite like the way ice and sludge entered my falling-apart boots, I had to admit it was one of the nicer stretches of our trek with majestic mountains and snow as far as the eye can see.
In the daytime, with the sun out, it was comfortable enough for us to (after doing a spot of laundry) sit in the sun in T-shirts and track pants chatting with others, including a couple of South Africa who’d cut through from the Annapurna Circuit. It was their 21st trekking day. It was at this time we learnt about the great sunrise to be seen in the morning. We also met up once again with the Shanghainese we had seen before at Kinrong and Chomrong. The two guys climbed up a snowy slope and lacking a toboggan or skis, decided to tumble down the slope. Hah.
Dinner was a fun affair, with our feet warm, plenty of cheerful company and yet another game of open rummy. And daal bhat.
But dang, the night was really cold. The bucket of water outside the toilet for flushing was frozen solid.