Altitude sickness is not to be taken lightly. Ignoring the symptoms could put you in hospital or worse, assuming you can afford the $2500 fee for an airlift that is.
We’ve done our homework, there will be no alcoholic drinks or caffeine consumed. We have lowered our salt intake and will be drinking lots of boiled water. We are already munching through the complex carbs at every meal time (and we have diamox to hand should we need it).
As we started in Pokhara and have only moved as fast as our legs and energy reserves will carry us, we know we are fit enough for this but altitude sickness is a lottery and who falls ill and who doesn’t has very little to do with physical fitness.
If you are ever up this way we recommend you attend the altitude lecture in Manang, it really is very informative.
The number of tourists airlifted off the circuit is on the increase and the stats suggest that most of the people who end up in a helicopter have ascended far to quickly, many of them on organised trips with planned but unrealistic climbs each day.
For all of these reasons we have slowed our pace significantly and have begun a series of acclimatisation days. Gez tried to get me to call them ‘days off’ but I can assure you they are anything but…we have agreed to call them “Spa Days” as by the end of them we feel like someone has given us a professional battering and removed a couple of layers of skin.
Spa day 1
720m of accent to a place called Ghyaru for lunch with views across the Marsyangdi valley over the Annapurna range, then back to Lower Pistang in time for a tepid shower. Which is by the way infinitely better than the cold mountain water option.
Spa day 2
1km of accent up a narrow, snowy scree path for a hard boiled egg and a cup of tea… To be fair we had planned to visit the frozen lake 100m further up the mountain but when the weather began closing in with fresh snow falling we decided it was time to head back down. The bracing wind and hail like snow that followed us down the mountain made our post hike cake even more essential.
Spa day 3
This was actually quite relaxing by comparison, climbing to 3800m from Manang for a cup of tea and some local fruit juice (well, slightly fermented berries in a glass). That and the most amazing 360 degree view of the Annapurna range and the local glacier.
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