DAY 5. Mardi Himal Trek

High Camp – MBC (4500) – High Camp – Sidhing

We supposed to start our final leg to base camp by 6:30 am, yet Salik didn’t want to get out of his sleeping bag. Well, it was an extremely cold morning and going out there was no joke. That moment when you tried to fix your gears and stuff as quickly as possible but you’re shivering all over, you just can’t do it right. Then you’re thinking of going to the restroom and you think again, then, ended up not going at all. Great!

Around 6:30 am, I forced Salik to get out from the comforts of his sleeping bag otherwise we might get into trouble up the mountains. We must reach Mardi Himal Base Camp before 11:00am and get back down quickly before the weather gets worse. We had a quick breakfast. Time is ticking and we need to start our ascent as soon as possible.

We hit the trail heading to MBC at exactly 7:25 am. The first 300 meters was relaxed and easy but that’s just it. The latter part will surely test your patience, endurance and climbing skills. Climbing up to MBC was never easy. You’ll be welcomed with a very treacherous rocky terrain and huge boulders all the way up.

Giants on our left while ascending on boulders.

After 30 minutes of climbing, I already find myself using both hands crawling and scrambling. Some of the rocks were loose and it might slipped any minute. You will surely go down with it with simple carelessness. The terrain was very steep and most part were 50-85 degrees ascent. These giant boulders were overwhelming and the higher you climbed the brutal it gets.

I felt like marrying to these boulders already. I cling unto them all the time and you just can’t help it otherwise you’d fall and be a history. Then, here comes the strong winds around 8:30 am. It started to blow real hard and the cold weather made it even worse. We paused and keep ourselves closer to giant boulders when the wind blew at its strongest.

Ascent on boulders. Salik on the lead.

The scenery below was marvelous but when I glimpse on the terrain where we came from, I realized we’re on a very dangerous spot. It’s nearly 90 degrees fall and strong winds seemed to have greeted us nicely early morning.

More giant boulders. Bring a lot of patience with you.

“The mountain gave us a taste of who the real boss was.”

However, there’s no time to get intimidated. Not now! We have to keep moving upwards no matter what. They said that trekking pole could make your climb a bit easier which is true but not this day. It’s useless when both hands are required to get to the next boulder. I handed the trekking pole to Salik so he could use it instead of keeping it in my day-pack. He seemed unhappy about it either. Haha! (Evil laugh).

Your holiness Machapuchare & a glimpse of Ghandarwachuli and Annapurna III.

After two and a half hours of uphill battle, we’re standing at 4200 meters above sea level (Upper View Point). The panoramic view of Annapurna range was beyond words up here. Everything was perfect wherever you looked and Mardi Himal BC was only 300 meters away.

The terrain looks easy from Upper View point yet this mountain is a living testimony that looks can be deceiving after all. The sun was shining at its finest however the gust of wind was ferocious. My guide was not in favor of going beyond 4200 meters and was ready to go back down to High Camp.

I protested and hit the trail once again. We are so close. Why give up now? You got to be kidding me!”    

Getting closer to MBC.

For some unknown reason the wind stopped during our final push to MBC. I was feeling relatively great though the high altitude starts to kick in. The higher we climb, the thinner the air, and the harder to breathe, yet Salik and I raced to 4500 meters and reached the last point (that’s how they call it) at exactly 10:45 am. Wohooo!

Yours truly @ MBC (4500m). Annapurna range on the background.

The perks of choosing a less traveled route like Mardi Himal BC is that, you’ll get to enjoy the spectacular view up there all by yourself. No one would bother you at all. It’s just you, the breathtaking gigantic peaks, and the guide of course.

The famous Annapurna base-camp was just a couple hundred meters below us. We took thousands of photos and ate our Tibetan bread which in fact I carried all the way from High Camp. Well, I carried everything on my day-pack while Salik had his trekking pole who’s not even happy about it. Hehe!

Annapurna base camp was just a couple hundred meters below from MBC.

I couldn’t really describe what it’s like up there and putting it into words would not give justice to it either. You need to experience the magic yourself though I can say that during my few minutes stay in Mardi Himal BC, I felt closer to heaven. Heavenly feels!

THE EPIC DESCENT: MBC -> High Camp -> Sidhing

As much as we want to stay longer in MBC, we couldn’t. Staying few minutes longer is an absurd thing to do. 7 minutes at 4500 meters, the mountains started to show its true colors. We’ve witness couple of avalanches from Annapurna giants.

Then, I started seeing rocks rolling down on the east side of Mardi Himal which was fairly near to us. Strong winds was also back to business ready to wipe us off the mountain ridge. We packed up and swiftly go down like a flash. We literally ran for the first 200 meters or more. We go past Upper view point when rockslide from Mardi Himal was raving mad. It’s a huge one and I could feel the intensity from afar.

We keep moving as fast as we could until the wind got furious. Descending to High Camp with nearly 90 miles an hour wind was truly insane. It was nearly impossible to go down the ridge otherwise you will be blown away in cold-blood. There’s nothing to hold on to except for huge boulders. Both of us never anticipated the deadly wind in a very fine weather.

Don’t be deceived by the looks of it. The mountain was mad in reality.

It was like pressing the pause button when the powerful wind strikes then fast forward when it slows down. I can no longer recall how many times we’ve paused then move like a lightning when the wind weakens.

To make it more thrilling and dramatic, we were trekking down on a very exposed ridge when the wind went wild. We instantly hold each other while going down for safety purposes. Much better if we have rope but unfortunately there’s none. If we were blown off the mountain ridge, well at least we’ll be blown away as a team. He he!

This is just one of the very exposed nearly vertical rocky slope. Good-luck with the 90mph gust of wind.

Descending was no longer a problem when we were near High Camp possibly 500 meters away. No more fierce wind below 4000 meters. It was a very steep descent on boulders, nonetheless getting down was no longer an issue.

We’re back in High Camp at 12:30 pm and had tuna spaghetti for lunch. We rested a little bit and get ready for a speedy descent all the way down to Sidhing. Yes, you read it right! We’re going all the way down to Sidhing from High Camp (3550m).

We supposed to stay overnight in Low Camp but we both decided to go down in one push. I can’t wait to have hot shower in Pokhara and sleep warm during the night. We hit the ground at 1:30 pm and reached Badal Danda past 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

We took a minute break however Salik had a great time with the locals. It consumed much of our time. I get going instead and ran towards the dense forest en route to next camp. He followed after me and together we descended rapidly and reached Low Camp around 3:30 pm.

Treating ourselves with a cup of black tea wouldn’t hurt at all. It would be nice to relax a bit more but it was imperative that we reach Sidhing before the sun fall below the horizon. We left Low Camp 4:00 pm sharp. I thought that the toughest part of the climb was over. I was wrong. In fact, it just began.

My guide told me to take the lead going down to Sidhing and I said no with conviction. The first hundred meters was piece of cake but as we went down further, things got worse. We descended like greased lightning in a very steep rocky and dusty terrain in the wilderness. It reminded me of our journey from Forest camp few days back though the trail going down to Sidhing was way more brutal.

Wilderness zone en route to Sidhing.

30 minutes after we left Low Camp, I take five and keep my distance from Salik 15-20 meters away. I could feel the powdered dirt in my nostrils when I breathe in. I couldn’t take the dust anymore.

The mini sandstorm produced by Salik ahead was troubling me to the highest level. My heart was full of regrets why I didn’t went before him from the start. Well, it’s not too late. We swap places and I take the lead. This is going to be fun.

Descending non-stop on a very steep rocky terrain was physically demanding. Adding it with huge loose rocks all the way, made it more challenging. I escape breathing in the dust but the worst is yet to come.

“Extra precautions is a must on your way down. Poor footing could lead you to serious injury.”

We’ve been descending in full speed when something hit my legs from behind. I carry on then got hit again one after the other. Ouch! It hurts!

At first, I thought it was just a simple prank. When I turnaround, whoa! Every single loose rock Salik stepped on are following behind ready to smash me any second. It’s like the rocks were saying, “Here we come! Watch out, watch out!” Being a front liner was a nightmare. Biggest mistake. I should’ve just stayed at the back and deal with the dust.

We keep heading down like a bat out of hell and I was almost running to the nth degree to escape from the fierce rocks. Right after the sun bid farewell we arrived at Sidhing exactly 5:30 pm. The toughest descent of my life was finally over.

We loosen up for an hour while reminiscing the struggle we had during the day. It was the longest 10 excruciating hours ever. I couldn’t figure out how I did it, yet I was glad that I never doubted myself. I couldn’t be more proud of myself up until this day. It was a huge break through after all. There’s so much satisfaction and pride of overcoming the risky challenge and ended it with a bang.

The hot lemon juice was perfect for the cold evening. Needed it badly since I was coughing so hard. It felt like my lungs was overloaded with dust. Dinner was great and we slept early. I checked my legs before bedtime and several bruises was not surprising anymore. Well, sometimes the ultimate prize came with extra bonus. I got a lot of extra bonuses somehow. 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.








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