Annapurna day 12: High Camp – Muktinath

4 May 2014

Today we depart from High Camp to Thorung La before descending to Muktinath on the other side. It will be a long day. My wife starts the day with little appetite, nauseous and still pretty bad. Climbing over the pass takes a lot of energy. At this altitude (>5000m) everything actually costs a lot of energy. In your head you have the idea that you have a nice pace, but when you see others walking you think: how slow they are. But you don’t get any closer yourself.

It’s good weather on this side of the mountain.

At 5200 meters, roughly. Good weather on the route towards Thorung La
Snow fields, but good weather
Snow fields actually make it harder to judge the elevation of surrounding mountains. It's much harder to see whether something is a glacier or not
Snow fields
You will only find glaciers here at high altitudes. We are already at 5300m.

The climb itself is not a big deal. technically. It goes up fairly gently, there are no treacherous passages and it is well-organized. My altimeter says I’m at 5300m, but suddenly I’m on the top.

The summit: Thorung La, 5416m
The top of Annapurna Circuit: Thorung La, 5416m
Big glaciers on the east-slope of Khatung Kang (6448 meter)

As soon as we start the descent, the weather changes. Occasional snow or grains of snow, rushing clouds and no good visibility. I urge my wife to speed up, which she doesn’t like. But I don’t like sitting in the snow at this altitude, without a marked route. The route is marked, but with posts. However, they are quite far apart and are therefore invisible.

We descend as quickly as possible, but the descent promises to be very long. After all, we have to descend almost 1600m and that is a long way. At half past two in the afternoon we see the first lodges, but after that it is still more than an hour’s walk to the village. The village of Muktinath is a place of pilgrimage and therefore very busy. The next day we decide not to descend on foot to Jomsom, but to take a jeep because everyone recommends this.

Note: we made this trip in May 2014. The tea house at 5200m is a notorious place by now – but not at that time. In October 2014, disaster struck on the Annapurna Circuit, ending the lives of many between High Camp and Muktinath. What started as some snow in the morning turned out to be the remains of a tropical cyclone. It’s a classical example of how deadly these altitudes can be during severe weather.

Groene velden diep onder ons

Read more about my Annapurna Circuit trek:

Annapurna Circuit  day 1: Kathmandu – Besisahar – Bhulbule

Annapurna-Circuit day 2: Bhulbule – Ghermu

Annapurna Circuit day 3: Ghermu – Tal

Annapurna Circuit day 4: Tal – Timang

Annapurna Circuit day 5: Timang – Dhikur Pokhari

Annapurna Circuit day 6: Dhikur Pokhari – Ngawal

Annapurna Circuit day 7: Ngawal-Manang

Annapurna-Circuit day 8: Milarepa’s Cave

Annapurna Circuit day 9: Manang – Yak Kharka

Annapurna Circuit day 10: Yak Kharka -Thorung Phedi

Annapurna Circuit day 11: Thorung Phedi – High Camp

Annapurna Circuit day 12: High Camp – Muktinath

Annapurna Circuit dag 13: Muktinath – Marpha

Annapurna Circuit day 14: Marpha – Beni

Annapurna: the do’s & don’ts!