After a stretch of rainy days, I like to remember that I’ve spent a year enjoying some of the most extraordinary beauty this planet has to offer. Today my thoughts returned to the pass at Thorung La on the Annapurna circuit in Nepal. The better part of the day was spent trudging through the snow and panting in an effort to make it through the high pass (for a reminder of what that looked like check out this post), but after reaching the top I was reminded of what a formidable barrier the Himalayas are not only to man but to the clouds themselves.
The extreme altitude and low temperature on the near side of the pass force nearly all the moisture from the air resulting in that side’s daily snowstorm and deep base of snow, but as soon as you pass through the narrow gap in the peaks you are rewarded with an incredible change of scenery. As if you had just disembarked from some spaceship, you now find yourself on a barren, rocky mountainside and overlooking the famed Mustang region, an incredibly scenic area that borders Tibet. I was lucky to catch this image shortly after going through the pass. It’s of the more spectacular sights I’ve been blessed to see…
The Earth has a lot to offer.
Buddhists use prayer flags as a way of multiplying their prayers, each flap of the flag in the wind sending off an additional prayer to heaven. They can be found all around Nepal, hanging on bridges that are crossed every day or in the most difficult to reach places like the peak of Mt. Everest. These flags were tied to a fence and were a peaceful ending to an incredibly difficult day of trekking. The dancing white of the flags were a beautiful compliment to the glimmering white of the fading light of the sun on the distant Himalayan peaks.
I threw a lot of words at everyone in my recent write up of the trek to Everest base camp. That may please some of my readers, but I know others among you prefer a more visual approach. To that end I’m going to be putting up some individual photos that haven’t made it into my posts and there are plenty to choose from. For example, I was in Nepal for almost three months and my Everest trek made up a scant two weeks leaving me with countless photos from both my time in the larger cities and from the equally spectacular Annapurna Circuit, one of the world’s greatest treks. I’ll still include a few words on each photo, but hopefully the images will also be good enough to stand on their own.
I actually finished two major treks during my time in Nepal. The trek to Everest basecamp and, the even longer trek: the famed Annapurna circuit. A trek often cited as the greatest trek in the world. The trek culminates in passing through the Thorung La pass which tops out at a dizzying 5,400 meters. Given the weight of our bags, the snow, and the sickness within the group it was, and hopefully will remain, one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. This photo shows one of my travel companions who, crushed beneath the weight of a 20kg (45 lbs) pack, is in the process of making a Herculean effort to climb the pass.