Low Camp – Badal Danda – High Camp (3550m)
Wake up call was six in the morning and going to the restroom at this hour was a real struggle when everything was literally frozen. I had no appetite for breakfast however, I must finish my porridge to boost my energy. The sun was shining bright early morning and Machapuchare peak was just right in front of us. What a lovely morning indeed.
The feeling of seeing the gorgeous peak up close was indescribable but scary at the same time. You would feel that you’re not welcome to scale this peak and for the record, no one ever reached the summit of this holy mountain at all.
Several climbers have tried in the past but not a single soul ever set foot at the top. This glorious mountain also known as Fishtail is not polite towards visitors and I felt it from afar.
Facts: Machapuchare (6,993 m) is now declared as sacred mountain in Nepal hence climbing to its peak is no longer allowed. This mountain will remain as one of the unclimbed peaks out there.
We hit the trail a little late around 8:30 am. The weather was in our favor however the steep terrain was not friendly. We climbed up in the rhododendron dense forest for an hour and a half until we reached Badal Danda (3200m) at 10:00 am.
High Camp was just 2 hours away so we decided to have lunch here. Lots of time to spare so I climbed more or less 50 meters up to view point. I almost jump with joy to finally see the gigantic peaks face to face. The view of Annapurna Himalayan range was undoubtedly spectacular. The marvelous rice terraces, alpine meadows, and unique culture villages thousand meters below made it more rewarding.
I recalled the time when I first dreamed to climb the Himalaya Mountains. The desire of my heart was so strong persuading my superego to stay on course. Who would have thought that yours truly was now standing in front of these glaciated giants?
A dream that seemed nearly impossible few years ago, yet here I am living with that dream. A dream that turned into a goal, a goal that turned into reality, and reality that synthesized bits of pieces which made me realized that nothing is impossible if you do something about it.
We had our early lunch at 11:00 am. Lunch for today was of course the famous traditional meal Dal Bhat. This was the best Dal Bhat for me not because it taste better than the other but because it was prepared by a great chef.
Yes, chef do exist up in the mountains. He’s the best kitchen man I’ve ever met and a very funny guy. How could you not enjoy your meal if happiness was added as an ingredient to your dish? Kudos to the chef at Badal Danda teahouse.
You may be wondering why I ate Dal Bhat in a daily basis. Why not? It’s relatively cheap, healthy, and you can eat as much as you want. Yes, you’ll get a refill for free. It was a very reasonable meal to choose when trekking which would give you enough energy and strength for 12 or more hours. In Nepal, they call it; the Dal Bhat power.
I was enjoying lunch when Salik took his plate off the table then went straight to the kitchen. At that moment, I knew that he’s in bad shape. He couldn’t eat his lunch otherwise he would throw up. At this high altitude, getting ill was crucial and if possible don’t get sick at all. We’re only at 3200 meters above sea level and altitude sickness should not be a problem here. Well, unless you’re having a hard time coping up with it which should not be the case.
A lot of questions circling in my head as to what’s the culprit of this very alarming symptom. I was so worried that it might get worse otherwise this whole trip would be compromised. I decided that we stay a little longer so he could rest.
Sharing stories and tricky mathematics with the tea-house guys was absolutely fun while my guide took rest.
At exactly 12:30 pm, we proceed to High Camp. I ask Salik multiple times if he’s alright and I got positive response though I’m still a bit worried. I checked on him from time to time to make sure that we won’t have any problems along the way. We were ascending on a steep rocky terrain in a clear day. Direct sunlight maybe hot but the wind blowing was extremely cold. Perfect combination.
We were at 3400 meters when several choppers came into action, hustling in and out of Annapurna. Rescuers were too busy this day alone. Everyone knew what they’re doing up there and I didn’t want to dig deeper into that. Then here’s my guide started telling stories about dead people falling down the cliff where we were at. Really! What a perfect moment to tell a very inspiring stories bro! We keep moving and at the same time very cautious of every step. There’s no room for mistakes here unless you want to be the lucky passenger of that chopper out there. No way, not now, not ever!
At 1:30 pm, we’ve reached High Camp (3550m). We did it in an hour with an average pace, not bad at all. So much spare time for today which was good for both of us so we could rest more.
The Annapurna Himalayan range was legendary on High Camp. The giants were so huge and you’d feel like you could touched it. Sitting in front of these peaks made you realized how small we are in this planet. In fact, we’re just a dot compared to these massive towering mountains. Delighted and amazed, I sat for a while and savor the enchanting moment.
Past 3:00 pm, I went out of the teahouse and got pampered with the greatness of nature. The surreal scenery would completely blow your mind. On your left were the majestic Annapurna South and Hiunchuli. In front, was the panoramic view of Annapurna range with Machapuchare waving at you and down below on the right side of the camp was the magnificent alpine meadows covered with sea of clouds. Woah! It felt like I was trapped in an incredible dream, but no this was for real.
I was glad that Salik recovered quickly and no more signs of illness whatsoever. He must be in good condition for our base camp attempt the next day. Then I met another guide/porter guiding another solo climber. He’s complaining about his back.
Well, I was not surprise at all because he carried three huge rucksacks. One for him and the other two backpacks for his client. I didn’t bother to ask how heavy it was but I knew that he’s suffering and in pain. I gave him pain reliever medicine and asked him why he agreed to carry two huge backpacks when they could hire another porter. I was holding my tears when he said “It’s okay, I’m used to this. This is the only thing I can do here and this is where I’m good at.”
I was tongued-tied and couldn’t think of any words to say rather than just sigh. This is exactly the reason why I didn’t hire a porter to begin with. I didn’t want to see other people suffer carrying my personal stuff. They may be strong and might be the strongest people in the planet but they have their limits as well. If in the future I’ll hire one, then I’ll make sure they’re not carrying too much.
“This kind of encounter up in the mountains was life changing. You would realize how blessed you are and can’t thanked God enough of what you already have. You’ll become wiser and it will made you distinguished the most important things in this so called life. You can’t complain for what you’re going through or for the things that you don’t have when you see people who have less. Sharing stories and meals with them, embracing their culture, laughed with them, and seeing the genuine smile on their faces; was way better than buying or owning expensive things.”
We had our pizza dinner at 6:00 pm. When you finished the whole medium sized pizza by yourself, you’d realized it’s the best pizza ever. Don’t judge me. I would need all the carbs going up to 4500 meters the next day. Lights off around 8:00 pm however we were struggling to get some sleep due to extreme cold. Temperature that night at High Camp was 19 degrees below zero. We had sleepless night. Continue reading ->
If you just landed on this page then below is my short story how it all started and the complete list of my Mardi Himal Base Camp adventure.
- NEPAL, Himalayas – the mountaineer’s paradise
- Lost in Kathmandu
- DAY 1. Mardi Himal Trek
- DAY 2. Mardi Himal Trek
- DAY 3. Mardi Himal Trek
- DAY 4. Mardi Himal Trek
- DAY 5. Mardi Himal Trek
- DAY 6. Mardi Himal Trek
- DAY 7 – Mardi Himal Trek