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post #16 of (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 03:10 PM
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What a spectacular report of a wonderful exotic land and adventure. Awesome sharing here, Zeljkok. Have to be in tremendous strenth and stamina of these local people, i.e. the woman hauling up the bales of hay. Incredible.


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post #17 of (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 03:21 PM
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I have read the book Annapurna by Herzog, the first ascent of an 8.000M peak, a few times. Pretty much like going to the moon in the 1950s. Very well guarded range including the trek in.The mythology of this area is burned into my mind. Way to go Zeljkok, livin the dream!
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post #18 of (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
All photos so far (except opening post) were taken with pocket camera,
Comes in handy when you are on the go due to the simplicity of using it.
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post #19 of (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by guntis View Post
Wow wow wow! Thanks for sharing!
Welcome! This would be great trip for you and Miss Masiar when the young one gets a bit older. Just sayin' ;=)

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Originally Posted by ColdBrook View Post
zeljkok,
Thank you for recreating the journey here.
The photos are beautiful.
Annapurna Circuit was on my radar for decades. Life happened, and now I get to live the route vicariously through your pictorial with commentary. Very grateful! (And much has changed since the 80s.)

It is never too late. Even if you don't do full circuit, it is well worth spending some time in Manang where you can basically drive nowdays. Pisang to Manang (my next post) was probably the most scenic part of entire circuit. Lots of things to do around Manang and good places to stay too.


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Originally Posted by xj6response View Post
That Nepalese woman, hauling bales of straw on her back, at that elevation and uphill? Wow, just wow ....
Elevation was not that bad, ~2800m I think (1hr past Chame) but that load indeed looks awfully big. Life is hard in these villages. And tourists (trekkers) are ultra important part for their economy.


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Originally Posted by Jaaklucas View Post
I have read the book Annapurna by Herzog, the first ascent of an 8.000M peak, a few times. Pretty much like going to the moon in the 1950s. Very well guarded range including the trek in.The mythology of this area is burned into my mind. Way to go Zeljkok, livin the dream!
Thank you! Yes, there is mythology. I felt it strongly on ABC trek, specially by Machhapuchhre (Fish Tail)."Forbidden to climb, residence of Lord Shiva"/ UK climbers got to 100m below summit and turned back. Nepal government won't issue climbing permits. Rumor that crazy Kiwi -- NZ climber -- summited illegally, never confirmed. etc etc. I'll post more on this when I get there, this was towards the end.


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Comes in handy when you are on the go due to the simplicity of using it.
Yes! I'd never get that woman with hay shot if I had to stop, take SLR out, etc etc. It is not that great technically from pure photography perspective, but it tells a story and this is most important part I think. Next post though will have SLR shots & difference to trained eye should be obvious.
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post #20 of (permalink) Old 02-23-2020, 02:27 AM
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I too read Herzog's Annapurna, at a young age. A gripping read.
I have the t-shirt sold by the 1978 Annapurna Women's Expedition! It reads: "Annapurna: A Woman's Place Is On Top."
Wore it for my trek through the Swiss alps, where it caused some commentary from the locals, including the following, memorably:
"You American women! You make it hard for us men."

Two women slipped off a ridge and died. One later ?married a sherpa. It was life-changing for all.
Arlene Blum, the expedition leader, wrote a book about it.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americ...yan_Expedition

So: Annapurna.

Would like to hear more about "the residence of Lord Shiva."

Last edited by ColdBrook; 02-23-2020 at 02:29 AM. Reason: random thoughts
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post #21 of (permalink) Old 02-23-2020, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Default Day 4: Pisang to Manang (High Route)

Distance (estimated): 16km
Elevation Start: ~3300m
Elevation End: ~3600m (max elevation 3900m)
Trekking Time: 8-9 hrs


This was one of most scenic days of entire trek. I know most people won't read everything I write in this report, but if you plan Annapurna Circuit at some point, this is very important: Take upper route from Pisang to Manang. Road follows valley bottom and you can probably get to Manang in 4-5 hrs of casual pace, but oh will you miss things if you do! Scenic views on upper route are among the best I had in my life, not just on this trek. So I repeat: Do yourself a favor and take Pisang - Manang upper route! Even if you are part of organized tour, or led by "guides" that are more interested in easiest way from point A to point B: Insist on taking the upper route. There is price to pay though -- initial climb of ~600m vertical from Pisang to Gyuary village, and upon reaching ~3900m you will probably start to feel the altitude. But climb is on wide switchbacks, and besides it is good for your aclimatization as Manang where you will spend next night is ~300m lower ("hike high, sleep low"). On top is Ghyaru village with bakery where you can get refreshments and enjoy the expansive views of Annapurna range. Photo journey of first part of the day:


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[Climbing out of Pisang with Annapurna 3 taking the center stage. Tilicho peak in the distance also shows for the first time (just left and under that tree)]


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[Water pump about halfway up -- it was frozen (night temps in December well below freezing at this altitude)]


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[Spent about half an hour at this terrace upon reaching Ghyaru, with tea and some pastry. Was quite hard to pry myself from that bench. You can see in the distance on the right side upper route towards Ngawal village where you go next]


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[Starting up towards Ngawal through "Mani Gate"; Mani Wall behind]


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[Reaching the shoulder ~30 min past Ghyaru with outstanding views to Pisang Peak (6091m) behind. It is relatively simple scramble / snow ascent & it was calling me]


What followed was incredibly beautiful ~90min mostly level / gradually descending traverse towards Ngawal with Annapurna views in your face all the time! Ngawal is very interesting, classic high Nepalese village with plenty of Buddhist details. Beyond is "Sher Gompa" -- one of most impressive Stupas I've seen in Nepal -- and Lopheling Monastery; it appeared deserted, but when I peeked through open gate bunch of wild dogs sprinted towards me. For a moment I got a bit scared, but they were only barked me off. Here I made a routefinding error -- map shows you can continue on high route all the way to Manang & I mistakenly continued traversing, expecting a bridge to get me across next drainage. But this was high route to Kang La and Naar & upon realizing the mistake retraced my steps back to monastery. No big loss, ~1 hr in total but with such views who cares. Correct route (Circuit is marked with red/white squares painted on rock) descends from Monastery to Julu village, then continues on the other side. It was already quite late when I reached Julu & I was getting tired so here I dropped to low route , and hiked last hour on the road to Manang. Photo journey of second part of the day:


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[Passing through gate to Ngawal village. Unbelievably clear and crisp conditions whole day]


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[Panoramic views just after the gate on previous photo; Annapurna 3 continues to impress!]


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[Sher Gompa]


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[Lopheling Buddhist Monastery, with Annapurna IV behind. Pisang -- where I came from -- would be in valley center left part of the photo]


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[First view of Gangapurna on descent to lower route. Gangapurna Tal (lake), fed by Gangapurna glacier, is on the other side of that moraine ridge slicing through center part of the photo. That would be the hike I made on rest day in Manang the next day]
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Last edited by zeljkok; 02-23-2020 at 04:39 PM.
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post #22 of (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 12:52 AM
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Thanks for the report so far. Looking forward to more.
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if you're not hiking you should be skiing
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post #23 of (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 08:38 PM
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Brilliant ... very, very cool
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post #24 of (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 10:07 PM
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Nice set of photos especially the first one on this page. I see you exposed for the highlights as they don't appear blown out.
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post #25 of (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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Nice set of photos especially the first one on this page. I see you exposed for the highlights as they don't appear blown out.

Thank you. When you are on a trek like this you don't have luxury of waiting for best light - or in general time your day around photography. You just hike & sometimes it's good sometimes it isn't. I believe best place overall to view/photograph Annapurna range is in this stretch Pisang - Manang, on a high route. Past Manang you leave Annapurnas behind as will be seen in following posts



Position of the sun is interesting; first part of the day it is on the left and light is great; that was first photo. As day progressed sun advanced over the peaks & second part of the afternoon it was directly above. This is largely why monastery photo is b&w, very overblown sky & I couldn't help it. That monastery would have fabulous light 9-10am, but shot was taken 3pm.


From that set I personally like the best pano



This was around noon if I remember right & you can already see left side of the sky getting overblown as sun was close. But its still ok. I did add grad filter in post-processing for left part of the sky & masked highlights & then removed noise. We'll see if it sells, lol. Incidentally, this pano was with little Sony Rx. Quality of this pocket camera never stops to amaze me.
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post #26 of (permalink) Old 02-25-2020, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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Default Day 5: Rest Day in Manang

Just about every Circuit trek -- organized or not -- I've seen while doing research always includes rest / acclimatization day in Manang. Altitude here is 3600m and it is a good idea. (Sadly, I witnessed jeeps driving up bunch of unprepared tourists; straight from Besisahar which is below 1000m. They spent night at same lodge I did & were going straight for Thorung La tomorrow. Their "guide" was telling them "You might feel a bit of headache". This was lunacy & I knew right away there would be trouble; Day after I saw helicopter evac from Thorung Pedi, and these things are not cheap -- they fly straight to hospital in Kathmandu, and I've heard ~10000 USD is the cost - unverified. Just like here in Canada, always lots of unprepared people in the mountains that shouldn't be there. But that's whole different topic).


I was also tired from previous 3 days & knew following days would be even more difficult. So I was glad I budgeted this rest day in my itinerary. Luckily they gave me the room with east facing window -- sun significantly warms otherwise brutally cold rooms during first part of the day, and some of that warmth persists through the night. So I slept. Went down, had breakfast, then came back and slept some more. Got up, took a shower, then slept again. Finally around noon I thought I'd get out and explore a bit. Definitely a tourist town with all kinds of shops, bakeries and ACAP museum. Warm sunshine and I sat on porch enjoying first latte in awhile with some pastry. Then, not to let day go to waste, decided to further help my acclimatization by hiking little ridge above Gangapurna Tal (glacially fed Gangapurna Lake) -- gain of ~300m vertical. Later in town I found dayhike guide table & learned this was called "Chongkor View Point". Gangapurna Glacier in your face, and fabulous views down the valley to Pisang! Ended the day with good dinner, but otherwise fantastic day was spoiled with weather forecast -- snow storm was expected in couple of days. This meant, if I persisted with planned itinerary & went to Tilicho lake tomorrow, I'd be facing prospect of crossing Thorung La in a whiteout -- or not even making it at all! I still didn't call it off & thought I'd make final decision in the morning, but in my heart I knew I'd abandon Tilicho and go straight for Thorung La tomorrow. I came this far, and completing the Circuit was extremely important -- I'd downright hate myself sitting now in Canada and knowing I had to turn back. Photo journey:


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[Yet another Buddhist stupa in Manang monastery. They are all over the place in Nepal. But this one is very impressive. Tilicho peak lower center left; Tilicho lake would be below behind that ridge; you can even trace hiking trail climbing across talus slope]


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[Couple of Nepalese women in warm sunshine doing their chores. They didn't seem to mind being photographed]


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[Annapurna Conservation Area Project (A.C.A.P) building. It had little museum and movie theater]


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[Luxury cottages with Gangapurna above right and Annapurna 3 left; the two separated by Gangapurna glacier. No I didn't stay in these, and I don't know the price. I below they cater to rich clientele that gets driven up here, spend the day sitting in restaurants, then get driven down. "We have been to Himalaya mountains"!)


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[Panoramic view of Gangapurna Tal and upper Manang. You descend, cross the river on good bridge, then hike up - no more than 15-20min from Manang. I made mistake; should have gone straight for lake, but I thought I'd leave it for return and went up ridge first. By the time I got back lake was already in the shade and cold]


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[Higher up on the ridge. On top there was tea shop, now deserted but probably very busy in season. Here you can see how trail past Manang splits; left (visible on photo) is Tilicho trail, right -- also visible as thin white line -- is Annapurna Circuit heading up. White Fanged peak is Thorung Peak; Thorung La Pass is on the other side]


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[Looking down the valley from Chkongor Viewpoint. Here you can see Pisang - Manang low route / valley walk in its entirety. High route I advocate so strongly is above on the left side of this photo. Pisang peak is prominent peak upper center left; behind in the distance to its right is Manaslu, and on the right side towering is Annapurna IV]


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[Closer look at Pisang Peak. I am really, really attracted to this one. Organized guides will take you up and it is mountaineering in upper part. I'd not go by myself, but I can see experienced mountaineers that would. You do need separate permit though; only circuit hiking is not enough if you are going to also climb something]


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[Closer look at Pisang peak summit block]


Finally, I will say Manang is fantastic place! I can see myself coming here again and staying for a week. There are all kinds of facilities and you can have comfortable stay. It is sunny and environs are breathtaking. There are tons of dayhikes from Manang -- of which I did only above mentioned Gangapurna Tal / Chkongor Viewpoint. But there is Cave, there is Ice Lake -- of which I've seen amazing photos online, and of course Tilicho or even Ngawal (for shots of that monastery) and extension to Naar. Tons to explore. Here is map I took photo of in "downtown" Manang:
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post #27 of (permalink) Old 02-26-2020, 07:38 PM
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"A day long trip around Manang" .... I didn't realize the local trails would be that well documented and that reasonable infrastructure (food, accomodation) exists to support hikers. It seems there's a host of good day hike choices. It's getting us very intrigued.

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post #28 of (permalink) Old 02-26-2020, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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"A day long trip around Manang" .... I didn't realize the local trails would be that well documented and that reasonable infrastructure (food, accomodation) exists to support hikers. It seems there's a host of good day hike choices. It's getting us very intrigued.

Yes. As I mentioned in write-up, I'd be quite interested coming back & just stay in Manang for a week. (I'd still walk for acclimatization, but one can be driven also as there is 4x4 road). That table should probably read "Day Long Trips" (not trip) - but there are several and all very beautiful. And yes, infrastructure way better than expected. Same can be said for the other side -- Muktinath / Jomsom (these reports are coming up) and whole Mustang area. Nepal has commercialized and is nowhere as "remote" as some people still think. It is still very cheap though
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post #29 of (permalink) Old 02-27-2020, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Default Day 6: Manang to Yak Kharka

Distance (estimated): 11km
Elevation Start: ~3600m
Elevation End: ~4200m
Trekking Time: 5-6 hrs


Got up in Manang, packed up and headed up after breakfast still not knowing which way to go. Weather forecast persisted -- and I checked on 3 different sites (incl. evertrustworthy spot -- they all agreed). Then got to this junction, sat on a rock and looked to the sky -- tell me what is the right thing to do:


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I used to be a smoker. Quit 16 yrs ago and never looked back. Sitting here felt the urge for puff first time in more than 10 years; when you are not sure and old habit hidden somewhere in your guts wakes up; it is hard to explain to someone that never smoke I guess (It passed quickly though). Reason prevailed. I wanted to go to Tilicho so badly, but risk was just too high. I could stand thought of not making it to Tilicho, but thought of not completing the Circuit I could not. So I too long hard breath, waved goodbye -- maybe in another life (?) -- and went right in direction of Thorung La arrow.


Shadows on my heart passed quickly. Day was just so stunningly beautiful, and entire trek was in the open with gently rising traverse over side hills with beautiful views all around. Stopped for tea in Gunsang (3950m) then continued in relaxed pace and soon crossed for the 1st time 4000m line. Beautiful trekking reminded me of highline traverse above Namche Bazaar towards (one and only) Ama Dablam I made in 2007. Had a chat with local descending in other direction; he spent summer at Thorung La (!!!) selling tea and snacks, and now called it close as it was off season and storm was coming. Words that conditions were still very good with almost no snow were encouraging, and in high spirits I continued now more and more convinced I made right decision in regard to Tilicho extension. Long Suspension Bridge over Ghyanchang Khala draining Chulu glacier followed; climbing up on the other side, now around 4200m elevation I felt for the first time slightly out of breath but still no headache. Continued in warm early afternoon sunshine with frequent look back to Annapurnas I was now leaving behind and will not probably never see again from this side in my life. It was like something really stamped your life and you will have memory for as long as you live. Reached Yak Kharka around 3pm and checked into my lodge, as afternoon shadows were already making the valley lose warmth very quickly. Photo Journey:


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[Yet another Stupa. This would be fairly nice afternoon hike from Manang as well, about 40min (1 way)]



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[Local taking a pic of valley leading to Tilicho area. Snowcapped peak is Tilicho Peak (7134m). You can trace length of valley you would hike towards Tilicho Tal; trail stays on climber left side, crosses the bridge to the other side near Siri Kharka, then climbs long talus slope prone to rockslides on final approach to high saddle above Tilicho Lake]



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[Magnificent Ganggapurna. It really is. We have jagged snowcapped peaks and glaciers in Rockies and BC Coast, but this was as magnificent as anything I've seen]


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[One last view towards magnificent Annapurna 3 and 4; goodbye, and maybe we'll see each other again]


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[Suspension bridge over Ghyanchang Khala; Chulu Peaks in Gungang Himal upper left]


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[Approaching Yak Kharka; spent the night where farthest set of houses is lower center left. White fanged Thorung Peak above; Thorung La pass is on thee other side]


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[Interesting way to boil water for your afternoon tea ]


Very cold night ensued, and I pulled out sleeping bag for the first time. Still slept very well in anticipation of more wonders to come in next couple of days; this will be the next post.
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post #30 of (permalink) Old 02-27-2020, 07:17 PM
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Amazing journey! (Yes, I am reading every word, and will come back again and again.)
Thank you for opening up such a special time and place.
I hope you do go back, to linger, perhaps to climb higher.
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