Matthew and I set off from Thorung Phedi at 5:00 this morning. It was a clear and cold night and the ice crystals on the juniper shrubs twinkled in our headlamps. We could see other headlamps grinding there way up the steep slope above us. (Some people left at 3:00). It was a difficult climb, but we made steady progress for the first couple of hours. However, the wind, which started as a breeze, increased in intensity with the time and the altitude. In the third hour of the climb it became more of a challenge than the grade, which moderated, or the thin air. Fierce gusts pushed the tired trekkers about, making them look like a collection of drunks or zombies.
The wind at the pass, elevation 5416 metres, was frightening. We took the obligatory photos, at the cost of frozen fingers, and then hustled down from the pass. On the descent I spoke with a young woman who said “I felt traumatized by the experience. We’re out of the wind and heading for Muktinath, so I guess I’m OK, but it was frightening.” Another young woman with a wild look in her eyes went tearing past me. A hundred metres behind her another young woman in pursuit was repeatedly yelling “Sara”.
We arrived in Muktinath after an uneventful descent of 1600 metres. Muktinath is a sacred site for both Buddhists and Hindus, for different, complex reasons. We visited the large temple complex that includes shrines for both religions. Of particular note is a Buddhist prayer hall that has a perpetual flame resulting from a natural gas leak.
Rick arrived in town 3 1/2 hours after Matthew and me. He had a porter carry his bag from Thorung Phedi, but at High Camp, about a third of the way to the pass, he hired a pony to take him to the top. He was dead on his feet when he arrived in town, but he did it.
Ruth: I added pictures to the last two posts now that Gord was able to send them to me. I hope I put them with the right blog Gord.