Family Adventure: Conquering Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal on Day 8

Our Nepal Annapurna Sanctuary trekking adventure is now reaching its dramatic climax: reaching Annapurna Base Camp, our final destination! YAY, I did it! I mean, we did it!! It wasn’t easy for middle-aged, untrained, lazy people, plus a 9-year-old boy who didn’t have any sense of walking on the rocky path without falling! As always, during breakfast, Mr. Ram suggested our daily schedule. After reaching Machhapuchhre Base Camp (MBC: 3,650m), we continued on to Annapurna Base Camp (ABC: 4,130m) to watch the sunset.

In the original trekking itinerary, we were supposed to stay at ABC for a night. However, Mr. Ram suggested, “We’ll stay at the MBC a bit lower than ABC, then we can go early in the morning to ABC to watch the sunrise if you want.”

Observing Mr Ram as he spoke, he didn’t sound like he was strongly recommending going to ABC. This was likely because, on Dobato (the 4th day of trekking), Rex and I experienced headaches and pain in the back of our necks, indicating a potential predisposition to altitude sickness. My husband, who was listening to Mr Ram’s explanation for our rescheduled plan, remarked, “I think it’s a reasonable plan. It would be a problem if you guys got sick.”

We all agreed to Mr. Ram’s rescheduled plan, and I couldn’t help but wonder how early we would have to wake up to catch the sunrise. I had a previous bad experience with an early morning sunrise plan, as mentioned in the Day 3 article—please take a look! However, Rex was the only one who seemed excited and willing to rise early. “Sure, you can, Rex!” I said with a smile.

Mr. Ram explained that it would take us about 2 hours from Deurali here to MBC. However, considering my walking speed, it would likely take about 2 and a half hours. The departure time was set for 8:30, so we would arrive around lunchtime. Additionally, Mr. Ram mentioned that it would take 2 hours to get to ABC, allowing us to return to MBC before dark.

Hmph.

Finally, it dawned on me that we were indeed going to ABC! Yes, finally!

I could sense a subtle shift in the atmosphere of the mountain compared to yesterday. There seemed to be a hint of tension, likely due to the increased altitude and thinner air, causing me to tire more easily. During breakfast, both Rex and my husband discussed their dreams, mentioning how vivid they were. I also recalled having a strange dream, although I couldn’t quite remember it. As an artist, I’m accustomed to having colourful and vivid dreams, so it didn’t particularly bother me. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people at higher altitudes to experience unusual dreams.

Anyhow, we were on our way to reaching our highest point today, and I couldn’t help but feel excited to see what awaited us.

OK, let’s go!!

As we embarked on the trek, the scenery was nothing short of breathtaking. The majestic Himalayan mountains visible from MBC were truly divine and left a profound impression on me. With each step, my expectations soared even higher, wondering what awaited us as we approached ABC.

The terrain in this area remained challenging, with occasional steep inclines and stairs to navigate. However, I noticed a significant improvement in my physical strength compared to when I first started 8 days ago. Even with the prospect of a two-hour walk ahead (plus an extra half-hour for my walking speed), I remained calm and composed. This mindset shift was remarkable—I no longer harboured any negative thoughts about the journey.

This area appears to be very dangerous in the winter. We came across a sign warning of a high probability of avalanches. My husband asked me to take a photo with the sign and him, and he looked so happy to have made it this far! Well, it’s still early for snow at this time of year, so there’s no need to worry about that, or rather, it’s not snowing at all anyway.

However, in January 2020, an avalanche occurred here, tragically claiming the lives of a group of climbers from South Korea and some Nepali guides and porters. Despite the trekking route being suitable for beginners, I believe it’s best to avoid it in the middle of winter. My thoughts and prayers are with the souls of those who lost their lives in this devastating event. May they rest in peace.

Walking towards MBC, we followed a path beside the cliff, with fewer trees as we ascended. Suddenly, Mr. Ram exclaimed, “Honey! Honey.”

We all looked up and spotted a beehive halfway up the cliff. It was quite large and had a peculiar shape (eeeeek). My husband asked to take a photo with a longer shot with my telelens, but it’s a bit blurry photo (sorry).

After walking for a while, I noticed the entrance to a hollow cave. I couldn’t help but wonder what it was… Something seemed off. Mr Ram and our son went ahead and waited as usual. When I caught up with them, Mr Ram explained.

Apparently, there had been an avalanche, and snow had piled up there. Even during the summer, it hadn’t completely melted, leaving the cave hollow. Then, about two weeks ago, some people were playing in the bottom part when suddenly, disaster struck. Nepali men were buried alive by a sudden snowfall. Despite efforts to rescue them, two people tragically lost their lives. The shovel from that rescue attempt was still there, serving as a grim reminder of the dangers lurking in the mountains.

Mr. Ram only shared the story with us, not with our son. Consequently, he was thrilled to see snow for the first time. It’s a shame it wasn’t falling snow, haha (eventually, he experienced his first snow in Loccottondo, Italy, in 2023, hahaha).

As we ascended, the altitude continued to rise. However, traversing through the valley along the mountain path, I was greeted by magnificent scenery, unlike anything we had ever experienced before.

And finally, we arrived at MBC!! There it was, a signboard proudly announcing Machhapuchhre Base Camp!

However, I still couldn’t spot any buildings to stay in. . . . After a short walk, yet again, another breathtaking view greeted us.

We continued to walk for a while, and finally, we saw our accommodation guesthouse ahead. There was a rescue facility with space for a helicopter to land. Since Mr. Ram rescheduled the morning, we were going to have lunch here and then head to ABC! YAY!

Lunch was always the same menu…. I stared at the menu, trying to decide what to eat. Seriously, my options were running out, even Dal Bhat had been enough up to now. There were actually many things I hadn’t tried yet, but I couldn’t really go for them…sigh.

We didn’t need much luggage, so we just brought drinking water and headed out. However, Mr Ram said it would get quite cold, so wear gloves, a down jacket, and a fleece underneath. Here at MBC, I was still wearing only long sleeves and a down vest. I also put into my husband’s backpack the hat that covers my ears that I bought at Ghorepani.

Annapurna Base Camp Was Definitely a Sacred Place!

Shortly after leaving our guesthouse in MBC towards ABC, you would see some places where were covered by snow, creating an incredible view! The altitude difference between MBC and ABC is only 480m. But for me, the height difference was completely unimaginable. Walking became increasingly difficult, and the oxygen was probably thinner than ever, making it hard to move forward. Mr. Ram said it would take 2 hours to get from MBC to ABC, but I guessed 2 hours was probably impossible for me.

However, I was so overwhelmed and fascinated by the scenery around me. I could understand the feelings of people who were captivated by mountains and kept challenging themselves to climb higher.

As I walked along the valley path, I sensed a very sacred atmosphere that grew stronger with each step towards ABC. I recalled a story from Japan where, after death, the soul climbs a high mountain to ascend to heaven. This is why there are many sacred places such as temples and shrines at the top of mountains in Japan. I’m not sure if there is a similar belief or idea in Nepal, but I couldn’t help but ponder this as I climbed towards ABC.

Then, when I looked back, I saw the beautiful MBC guesthouse with the majestic Annapurna South rising above it…

OMG, perhaps this was the charm of the Himalayan mountains… This alone made me feel like the difficult journey up until now was totally worth it!

And then I walked up again. Ah, my breathing was getting harder…

When my husband sensed that my breathing was becoming laboured, he shared advice based on his experience at a Himalayan base camp over 5,000m, “Breathe slowly and rhythmically. When it gets hard, stop, then make sure you breathe properly before starting to walk again. It’s important to catch your breath,” he advised me. Seriously, it was getting harder.

After a while, I noticed the group ahead— one of the porter boys, our son, and Mr Ram— veering off the road and starting to do something. Mr Ram stood on the road and told us, “From here on out, the altitude is too high, so your son will wait here to play with us. Please go to ABC with another porter.” When I glanced at my son, he was playing with the remaining snow.

“OK, we’ll come down as soon as we can,” we replied, leaving our son behind. He didn’t even notice we’d left, completely engrossed in playing around. He seemed to be having a blast with the porter (who was actually a nephew of Mr Ram).

Basically, we just climbed and walked towards ABC. It was just a path and walking, no stairs, but my body felt so heavy and I was out of breath, making it feel like I couldn’t move forward.

However, I finally arrived at Annapurna Base Camp, at last!! YAY!!

Anyway, we took a commemorative photo together with my husband!

We were told that there were some guesthouses up from here, and we were just curious to see what kind of accommodation they were, so we decided to climb again.

However, there were a lot of clouds, and the scenery was not great. I guessed the morning would have been the best time to see the views, as it tended to clear up, allowing you to see the mountains clearly.

And then we reached the guesthouse area, but it was just desolate. My husband said we didn’t need to stay here. Well, to be honest, I didn’t really want to stay overnight either. The atmosphere around there wasn’t really inviting. It felt like a sacred place or not quite suitable for staying the night unless absolutely necessary. I kind of understand Mr Ram’s rescheduled plan now, not only for high altitude sickness concerns but for something else too.

Certainly, the building appeared a bit older than MBC. Moreover, it looked like it had already snowed, with snow falling from the roof piling up on the ground. Of course, there are no heaters or wood stoves here, so it must be bloody cold at night! When I edited this photo, I noticed the guy standing by the window. I hadn’t noticed him until now. I hope he was alive person, you know what I mean…..eeeeekkkk.

Then we went a little further up, and we saw a golden bronze statue, or perhaps a monument? I wondered what it was. There was a statue of a person, so I asked the porter boy, and he told me that it was a memorial for someone who passed away during the development of this place. In the attached photos, you can see images of those who lost their lives here. I couldn’t imagine how many people have lost their lives here due to various reasons, such as high altitude sickness or injuries sustained while climbing from here. There have been so many. I wouldn’t be able to sleep well if we stayed here overnight. Again, Mr Ram and my husband were right; we didn’t need to stay if we didn’t have to.

There was also construction underway. In the centre of this photo, a lodge would be built, and it looked like the foundation work had already begun, with stones being prepared for the foundation.

OK, it was quite enough to explore Annapurna Base Camp, so we had to head back. Our son was waiting for us, so we needed to get back on the trek quickly. Then, to our surprise, Mr. Ram, the porter, and our son came up the mountain! Oh wow!

Mr. Ram said, “Your son wanted to go to ABC with you.”

Really! Did he even make it to ABC? Fantastic!!

So, we took another commemorative photo with all of us together! YAY!!
OK, we had to return to MBC before the sunset.

The Most Unforgettable Mountain Sunset in Nepal Trekking

By the time we got back to our MBC’s guesthouse before it got dark, my son and I ordered some warm ginger honey lemon tea, while the two middle-aged men had a beer. We were toasting with a beer and tea, celebrating our achievement of reaching one of the Himalayan mountains.

As I went back to our bedroom and started preparing my sleeping bag and comforter before it got cold, my husband called out to me, “Hey YORI, It’s amazing! Go outside, the sunset is incredible!”

I dropped what I was doing and went outside to see the beautiful sunset reflecting off the mountains, and I just stared at it, speechless… I thought I’d probably never forget this sunset. The photo I attached here doesn’t really capture the true beauty of it, but you have to see it with your own eyes; it was incredibly beautiful.

However, as I stood there, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. Climbing to 4,130m was definitely the highest point I had ever reached on Earth. I didn’t hate mountain climbing; in fact, I quite liked it. But I also felt like I had had enough for now, at least for the time being, hahahaha.

Well, we were going back down tomorrow. We still had 6 days left… Are we going to spend 6 days with the same food menu?

Ahhgghhh… really?

To be continued….. Day 9

Scroll to Top