Annapurna Circuit & Tilicho Lake

Sunday, September 1st 2013

I just came back from 22 days trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, with a few side treks including one to Tilicho lake.

Before this trip I’d never been on a mountain (at least without a snowboard and a chairlift) so certain parts of the trek seemed pretty scary to me, one in particular on the way to Tilicho lake where a permanent sign said “Landslide” and you walked across about a foot-wide trail on a face of broken rock, with about a thousand meters of rock above you ready to fall on you, and a few thousand meters of the face below you that you’d roll down if you lost your footing (I wrote that it was 1,000 meter drop in the section below, but later learned that it was quite a lot more). I don’t keep a diary, but I’ve got a book to draw website designs in, so when I got to the other side I wrote this down so that I’d remember the experience:

I just came through the scariest climb yet, walking through what seemed to be a gravel mountainside, with warnings of falling rocks from above and the reward of a 1,000 meter drop below should you fall. The trail was barely a foot wide, and in some places only wide enough for a single step, forcing you to walk tight-rope style for over an hour while constantly listening for falling rocks from above. I could see this section of trail long before I reached it, which meant building up the tension and nervousness. Luckily, just before entering the section I saw a French man, alone like me, emerging from it. I’d met him a few days earlier and he assured me that if I went slow and steady, I’d be fine. Because he’d just done so, his advice calmed me right before entering. I tightened up my backpack and hunched over to keep my centre of gravity right over my feet. I spent the next hour walking over the section like this, and though I seemed to get altitude sickness halfway through (I felt a bit lightheaded and my vision lagged), I made it to the other side alive. I’m going to spend the night at Tilicho base camp to make sure I’m fully acclimatized, then make for the lake tomorrow.

It actually only turned out to be scary because I wasn’t use to it, and really wasn’t that bad. The next day when I had to walk across the same section, now that I was use to it, I pretty much just walked across the same way I’d walk down a sidewalk.