Type 3 fun. Not fun at all, not even in retrospect. As in, “What the hell was I thinking?
I really hate scree slopes. In my humble opinion they take all of the fun out of most outdoor activities unless the scree slope is covered in at least 3ft of compacted snow and I am wearing skis.
I spend most of the next three days looking at the ground wondering how far I will slip and if I will be lucky enough to remain upright when the inevitable downhill slide begins…
Welcome to spa days 4, 5 & 6!
Imagine my utter delight when we discovered that the route to Tilicho Lake was at least 50% landslide.
We had spent the last two days pushing, dragging and carrying our bikes uphill to meet the path for the lake and neither of us are very good at turning around. How bad could it be?!
For landslide also see really steep scree slopes that have yet to stop flowing and shifting like water down the mountain side.
The locals smile and tell us the way is OK and we won’t need walking poles. They run supplies on donkey back along this track.
As my feet begin to slide downhill I find myself wondering just how many donkeys start the supply run and if they all make it back. Did I mention that I really hate scree slopes …and anything that remotely resembles one, maybe recent landslides are now my least favourite thing…? Yes, I think they are.
The mild altitude sickness I am experiencing means that every step feels like the ones you might take if you woke up to find that your legs had been replaced with lead. The need to stop and catch my breath shows a complete disregard for the rocks bouncing down the mountain or the precarious gravel “path” that is sliding downhill beneath my feet.
That night, in the freezing cold room of our tea house (-6 to be exact) I dreamt of landslides and falling rocks. Perhaps tomorrow would be better?
The thing about the mountains in this valley is that they are all constructed of the same basic material, so I should have realised what was coming. I think I was just hoping I was wrong. The landslides between base camp and the lake were even more fun than the ones we walked the previous day, thanks in part to the melting snow above us and the sheet ice on the path. Once we reached 4900m the whole thing became more fun than I knew what to do with, deep snow drifts, a false summit, fake lake and yet more sheet ice. The sign sticking out of the snow drift read 35mins to Tilicho Lake.
Until we hit the thick snow Gez seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, stopping to point things out and take photos. Snow that deep is definitely more fun in skis.
The views of the glaciers in every direction at 5013m were truly amazing and we are very lucky to experience these first hand but if you want to look at the lake wait until mid May at the earliest. This hike is an awful lot of sliding up and down in freezing cold conditions to visit at a big flat white patch of snow and a disappointingly derelict tea house.
I strongly suspect that Gez had forgotten my scree-based feelings and how quickly I would very much have liked to get out of here.
Following a brief team discussion we noticed an alternative route back to Manang from Tilicho Base Camp. We checked the idea out with the locals and quickly realised that our only “safe” option was back the way we had come. (See zig-zag path on the very steep face to the left on photo below, definitely buried above 4500m. Our only escape route returning to the right)
I did what could be very loosely described as a motivational dance and we got on with the job in hand. At least we’d be back in Manang by nightfall, eating Momos and warming ourselves by a fire.
Thankfully the “Spa days” have served their purpose and we are as acclimatised as time and finances will allow. One rest day in Manang, possibly a hot shower and some clean clothes and it will be time to head over the top.
Thank you to all the lovely people who have already donated to CANepal. Thanks to you more children from the Nepali mountain tribes will be able to go to school and basic healthcare will be more readily available.
You can find our JustGiving page here: