Today was THE DAY! We went over Thorong La Pass at 17,769 feet! And even climbed a little higher to go over 18,000 feet!
We stayed at High Camp the night before, the highest you possibly can stay overnight on the Circuit.
It’s a 3 hours climb to the pass from High Camp. All 110 beds were filled at high camp, porters and guides were sleeping in tents and rumor was about 40 slept in the dinning hall. The next morning high camp was buzzing at 4 am. We started up with Song at 5:09 am. It was cool seeing all the little headlamps make their way up the path in the dark like little glowing ants.
The wind on both sides of the pass gets unbearable starting at 10am so you want to be over and a couple hours down the other side by then. It was crazy to see the line of hikers, going by the light of each of our headlamps only, slowly crawling up the mountain. And it was so cold!!
We watched the sun come up as we made our way up. It was a steep incline up all of the way. We struggled to breathe at the high altitude and with the steep grade… so it was little baby steps the whole time. Little by little we inched our way up the pass. We were definitely ahead of most of the crowd though, so we were feeling good about our progress.
We summited the pass at about 8:15 AM. I think we had expected it to be this beautiful viewpoint, peaks all around, glorious mountain views…. It was not. I don’t know why I was thinking that, I mean it’s a pass, the low point to cross between mountains. It was gravely and steep. But what it lacked in beauty it made up in grandeur. I still couldn’t believe how high up we were.
Song had grand plans of hiking up the hill an extra 250 ft to clear 18,000 ft with his altimeter watch. We agreed that would be a cool accomplishment so we joined him and made it to 18,010 ft! That extra 250 feet, I have to admit, were pretty hard just due to the altitude and lack of oxygen. But totally worth it! That means that we hiked higher than the 2nd highest peak in the United States – only Mt Mckinnley is higher than where we hiked in the U.S.
We spend about an hour on the pass, took a bunch of pictures, had some tea and then started down the other side.
Down was very steep and gravely. We made our way down and at the first tea house ran into Brad who had come up to meet Song. He had gotten altitude sickness and decided it was better to just get over the pass and down than go back down to Manang.
We checked out the “Russian Sauna” we had seen lots of stickers ads for which turned out to be a large (and presently cold western sauna (cedar boards and all) and they wanted 5,000npr ($50usd) to turn it on for us, just a touch out of our price range 😉
We ended up staying at Hotel Bob Marley which had a great shower and bathroom (!!!!! YEA !!!!) and good food. We enjoyed a hot shower, apple pie and a beer to celebrate our big accomplishment. It still got really cold at night in Muktinath and was super windy… in a moment of weakness, Liz couldn’t help herself and bought a warm wrap/shawl make of baby yak wool from a local craftswoman. It was incredibly warm… I have a feeling you’ll be seeing that wrap in a few pictures over the next week! She won’t take the thing off!