0

ABC Day 04 - Poon Hill

ABC Index

Poon Hill


The pre-dawn darkness made it necessary to pack in the dim lights of our headlamps. We hurriedly threw together the essentials for our daypacks, and divided the contents of the first aid kit amongst us to lighten the load. We had planned to start walking an hour before sunrise (my Suunto Spartan Ultra had stated that sunrise was at 06:15), but before we did, we made our way outside the wooden lodge to heat up some potable water in the Jetboil for some much-needed coffee.


Difficulty Rating : 2.4 / 10.0 (Class 2 - Very Straightforward)


*Cick here to learn more about the difficulty rating.

**Despite the incline, the rating for the terrain was reduced due to the very well-maintained stairwell that leads to the peak

We set off down the cobbled alleyway, still in darkness, and back to the square with the signpost. It was so dark that all we could see were the cones of light in front of us. The procession made its way groggily upwards, the beams from the headlamps periodically interrupting the intensity of the constellations above us. As we made our way south-west, a battle was unfolding above us--Scorpio dominated the southern horizon and was accompanied by three of the planets: Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in almost perfect alignment; whereas Ursa Major, the Big Dipper, dominated the skies to the north-west. Both constellations were seemingly trying to outshine each other as they grappled for dominion over the night skies.

The line of lights made its way up the very crowded and sinuous stairwell. Bottlenecks were everywhere so I passed people out as soon as the opportunity presented itself. We reached the Poon Hill checkpoint shortly after, and continued on into the darkness after paying the NPR50 fee. The foliage eventually gave way and the large viewing tower atop the hill made its appearance, which was then just a silhouette in the blue hour. The sun had yet to rise but the alpenglow that was reflected off the atmosphere cast a warm red glow on the Dhaulagiri massif to the west.

The peaks as seen from Poon Hill; Hovering your cursor over the image above will show you their names.

As the blue hour melted away, the silhouettes of the mountains began to appear in the twilight hue. The ambient light became brighter and brighter as the sun slowly rose and lit up the upper peaks of Dhaulagiri (elevation : 8172m), the 7th highest mountain in the world, in its warm glow. The shadow line of Dhaulagiri gradually made its way down the slopes of the mountain as time went by, shrinking in fear from the power of the sun.

As the shadows retreated and the dark tapestry was pulled away, the rest of the mountains came to life in a magnificent unveiling: first Annapurna I (elevation : 8091m) and Annapurna South (elevation : 7219m); then followed by Nilgiri (elevation : 7061m), Machapuchare (elevation : 6997m), and Hiunchuli (elevation : 6441m). The details of the mountains became clearer and clearer as the sky grew lighter and lighter, and the shadows grew shorter and shorter. The orange glow that was the sun gradually appeared above the mountain horizon and blinded everything in its brilliance.

The Dhaulagiri massif; Hovering your cursor over the image above will show you their names.

Annapurna I, Annapurna South, Hiunchuli, and Machapuchare; Hovering your cursor over the image above will show you their names.

The crowds around the peak had been absolutely ridiculous. In the darkness, those who were loud and obnoxious had bothered me and had made it close to impossible to immerse myself in the splendour of the mountains; but now that the sun had risen, I was left aghast by the roiling mass of bodies that had somehow squeezed itself onto the small peak of Poon Hill. As the sun rose however, the guides began to descend back down the trail with their groups, and the crowds slowly began to disperse. We waited for a while until there were very few people on the summit, before making our way back down the trail too.

poon hill tower

The Poon Hill (elevation : 3210m) tower; Dhaulagiri (elevation : 8172m) & Tukuche (elevation : 6920m)

poon hill primroses

Morning dew on Himalayan primroses (Primula denticulata)

Next (Day 4) : Poon Hill (Part 2)
ABC Index