ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT TREK - TILICHO BASE CAMP TO THORONG PHEDI
Read our highly informative and detailed day-by-day Annapurna Circuit Trek guide. We spent 14 days trekking around Annapurnas, and we’d like to share useful hiking tips, how to acclimatize and where to sleep. In the fifth part of our lifetime adventure, we hike from Tilicho Lake Base Camp to Thorong Pedi.
We woke up early in the morning at Tilicho Base Camp, and the weather was still freezing and overcast with only a few sun rays shyly piercing the rain clouds.
It snowed overnight but not that much, probably two or three centimeters. To get to Yak Kharka, we had to walk the same narrow and possibly dangerous path across the steep slopes back to Shri Kharka.
The trail was deserted and only from time to time we had to move out of the way to give more space to the men with mules loaded with large supplies passing by on their route to Base Camp.
Right behind Shri Kharka on the way to Khangsar, there is a turn off to the left leading uphill to Upper Khangsar.
It was a steady climb, the weather was getting worse, and when we reached Upper Khangsar we found ourselves in the middle of another abandoned ghost village, and the feeling of emptiness was even more intense with the gloomy clouds rolling over the mountains.
From Upper Khangsar we followed a narrow path along a stone wall, and when we got to the edge of the ridge, the trail abruptly turned down. We found out that we have to descend more than 300 m to the bottom of Thorong Khola Valley only to cross the bridge over a small creek and then ascend again and finally join the main road leading from Manang.
At some point, it started to rain and then the rain turned into wet snow, so today was the first day we had limited views caused by the bad weather. From the small junction, it didn't take long to get to Yak Kharka.
When we found a room, we asked for a bucket with hot water immediately and had to pay an additional fee for it. Let's say taking shower in freezing conditions requires a certain degree of self-determination and is not very enjoyable.
Throughout the afternoon and the evening, it snowed harder and harder, and it kept snowing all night despite the weather forecast. We could sense the tension among other hikers at dinner because the long anticipating day of crossing Thorong La drew near, and the weather was getting worse.
First thing in the morning we unfolded the curtain and saw a clear blue sky, and found out we woke up into the entirely different scenery. Martin jumped into his sneakers and ran out to catch the first sun rays falling on Annapurna III, which was hidden yesterday all day. As it turned out, running outside in the deep snow was not the smartest idea.
After breakfast, we left the village which was now half-buried under the snow. Fortunately, the path is widely in use by locals and their herds of yaks, so it was passable.
Yak Kharka in translation means Yak Pastures, and you can see yak animals everywhere around because this species has adapted to live in high altitudes and usually don't live lower than 3000 m because the air is too thick to breathe for them and they also suffer from heat exhaustion in temperatures above 15 °C.
The trek from Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi was not long neither steep and thanks to the snow blanket around us, was exceptional. We walked the path for about an hour, and then we crossed a suspension bridge built recently by ACAP because of trekkers safety as the true left bank of a river became prone to landslides and rockfalls.
Despite the unexpected detour which took us to the more stable side of the valley, we arrived at a point where was a lineup and we had to pause because of loose rocks falling from the hill above.
Everyone had to wait until the person ahead got safely to the other side. We tried to "run" the whole stretch needless to say it wasn't the best idea at this elevation (we were not by any means faster, just breathed more heavily).
Thorong Phedi is right behind this potentially dangerous and tricky section, and once we got there, we accommodated ourselves in the upper lodge and spent the rest of the day by eating sweets from the local bakery, drying our clothes in the sun, drinking tea and gathering strength for Thorong La Pass.