WAYFARERS REACH 6000 METRES WITH UNIQUETREKS January 16, 2013 No Comments
It all started at the 2011 Wayfarers Christmas Party. I told Pauline McCarthy, over some glasses of wine, that I would fancy going to Nepal to climb a 6000 metre peak if I could get a small group interested. Her response was “this is your challenge, should you choose to accept it” and that was that. A team of 5 was soon assembled, Pauline, PatHarraghy, Cliona McCarthy, Pamela Ramsbottom and myself. We picked Chulu West, a peak off the Annapurna Circuit at 6419m, and via the internet, engaged Unique Adventures, a local company who would supply guides, porters, tents, and make all the internal travel arrangements. We equipped ourselves with down jackets, sleeping bags and thermals and arrived in Kathmandu on October 28th for our three week adventure.
Our Unique host, KhumSubedi met us at the airport, arranged for us to hire snow-boots, harnesses and other climbing gear and introduced us to our 3 Sherpa guides. Our lead guide, Pemme Sherpa had summited Everest 7 times so we immediately felt we were in good hands. We travelled to Besisahar 850m, by minibus where we met our 6 young porters who would carry our heavy gear, tents, cooking gear and food for the next two weeks. We would be camping for just four nights when we went off the Annapurna circuit for our summit attempt, otherwise we stayed in tea-houses.
After a night at the Unique View Hotel in Besisahar, we boarded a local bus accompanied by all manner of goods including battery chickens. After half an hour, we encountered a broken down truck taking up the full width of the road so our walking journey commenced. We gradually made our way into the mountains initially through golden rice paddies ready for harvesting and stayed in tea-houses at Syange 1100m, Dharapani 1860m, Chame 2670m and Lower Pisang 3200m where we celebrated Pauline’s birthday. Pamela had stashed balloons, decorations, a litre of cosmopolitan cocktail and a birthday candle which said “don’t even ask” in her rucksack so we had a bit of a hooley during which our guides and porters gave a rendition of Nepali folk songs.
We spent two nights at the more upmarket Yeti Hotel in Manang 3540m including our first acclimatising day. We took the opportunity to climb to 4000m that day and had our first view of Chulu West. Our next night was at Yak Kharka 4050m (literally Yak Pastures) and then onto Chulu West Base Camp 4800m. The food in all the tea houses was excellent comprising generally of porridge, pancakes, and eggs for breakfast; soups, friend rice and chips for lunch, and rice, lentils and vegetable curries for dinner. The high standard was maintained at base camp where our three guides demonstrated superior culinary skills including such treats as warm pineapple slices for dessert. Nights were very cold in the tents and we all appreciated our -20°C down sleeping bags.
We had an acclimatising day at base camp which gave us an opportunity to practice using the climbing gear, particularly the mechanical ascenders with which most of us were not familiar. Our move up to high camp at 5500m included a steep rocky section using fixed ropes which had been placed by the guides. Tents were erected quickly in the snow and after a dinner of noodle soup we were in our sleeping bags by 6pm. The guides woke us at 2am for a breakfast of porridge and black tea and by 3am we were en route towards the summit roped up in two groups of four. Unfortunately, Cliona was affected by altitude sickness in the form of dizziness and had to turn back at 5700m accompanied by our lead guide. The night was very cold as we carried on through the snow with our guides generally finding a route where we could walk mostly on top of it. However our luck ran out around daybeak and we had to plough through soft snow initially knee deep and at times up to our waists. At 8am and 6060 metres we decided that itwould take us another three hours to reach the summit and we could be abseiling down to base camp very late and extremely tired. It took less than a minute of consultation to decide that 6060m was a reasonable achievement and Chulu West could wait for another day. We were fortunate to have climbed to over 6000 metres because the following day the weather broke and we could see storm clouds over Chulu West. Unfortunately, we have no photo of our summit attempt, since most of it happened in darkness and my camera’s batteries were too cold to operate when we decided to turn back. We do have photos of our celebration with local brandy that night when we returned to base camp at having reached 6060m and descended safely. It had been a long day and some of us slept for 11 hours.
We were not yet finished with altitude as our route back on the Annapurna Circuit brought us over the Thorung La Pass, at 5416m, the highest trekking pass in the world. We spent a night at Thorung Base Camp teahouse 4833m, where there was a light fall of snow and set out for the pass at 5am to avoid the high winds that were predicted for late morning but which didn’t materialise. There were spectacular views from the pass in all directions and much photograpy by the several dozen people of various nationalities. Surprisingly, we met only one Irish person on our trek, a Dublin woman member of Glenwalk. There was lots of Germans and French, smaller numbers of Italians and Spanish, a few British and Ukrainians and a solitary Serb from Belgrade whose musical hero is Rory Gallagher and who intends making a pilgrimage to Ballyshannon and Cork in Rory’s honour.
From Thorung La it was all downhill first to Muktinath 3760m, where we parted with our guides and porters and presented them with the mandatory tip, of which we gave generously, as they had been fantastic throughout the trip. We then descended to Jomson 2720m, where we dined on yak steaks at the Zanadu Hotel, our first bit of meat for nearly two weeks, before flying down to Pokhara. Interestingly, there are 4 summits with the titles Annapurna 1,2,3, and 4 the highest of which at 8091m cannot be seen from the Annapurna circuit but can be seen on the flight from Jomson to Pokhora if you sit on the correct side of the plane.
We arrived in Pokhara on the eve of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and it was fascinating to see groups of children and adults going from one premises to another singing and dancing and collecting money for the next day’s party, just like the Wren Boys and Girls of old. We all opted for long luxurious full-body massages after our two weeks trekking except Cliona who daringly opted for a paragliding adventure over Pokhara.
Pokharato Kathmandu was a 180 kilometre, 7 hour bus ride and a great opportunity to see the less mountainous countryside. Having returned our hired gear, we visited the local shebeen of one of our guides and some of Kathmandu’s main tourist attractions including the Great Stupa of Boudanath, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and the Pashupatunath Temple where several cremations were taking place on large riverside funeral pyres.
We had a final night dinner celebration with KhumSubedi our Unique Adventures Managing Director and we assured him that we would be happy to recommend his company to our friends. It would be advisable to engage a local operator for any trek off the Annapurna Circuit but the circuit itself can beaccomplished, as it is by many, by simply engaging a porter locally for every two persons. We had a fantastic trip and would recommend trekking in Nepal to anyone of even moderate fitness and asense of adventure. Many Wayfarers have trekked in Nepal over the years and we would encourage newer members of the club who have not ventured far abroad to widen your horizons and experience the pleasures of Nepal, its friendly people and the beautiful Himalayas.
Our client article regarding successful Mera peak climbing December 6, 2012 No Comments
Nepal – A Month ago, five brothers from the Lai family successfully trekked up to the summit of Mera Peak, one of the highest mountains in the world. The mountain which lies in the Himalayan region of Nepal, stands at about 6,654 metres above sea level.
Successful 4group this year to Mustang Rhododendron Trek October 10, 2012 No Comments
This year our company successfully runned Mustang Rhododendron Trek to 4 groups. And the outcome of this trek was very good, our clients are fully satisfied and happy with facilities that our company gave to them. Further booking is also going on for this trek so interested one please contact us, we will provide you the best with discounted price..
Annapurna base camp Trek by Simon Payne October 3, 2012 No Comments
I hired you as a Travel Agent in 2012 and hired you more than once. I used Unique Adventure this year when climbing Annapurna base camp. I found them to be first class in every way, from meeting me at the airport on arrival through to the guides and personal level service throughout the trek. I always felt like my enjoyment of the trek was high priority and had a fantastic time. I have again booked the services for next year to do EBC and am looking forward to it. I would and have recommended them to anyone looking at organising a trek.