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ACT Day 09 - Khangsar to Tilicho Base Camp

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Views of Pisang Peak


Since the mist had yet to lift that morning and we had a relatively short hike ahead of us, we started the day languidly with a late breakfast of omelette with onion (NPR230/2) and tibetan bread (NPR230/2). Whilst we were eating breakfast, the mist lifted and as it did incredibly dramatic views of Pisang Peak / Jong Ri (elevation : 6091m) to the east began to be revealed. The clouds that hugged the mountains seemed fickle however, and would first waft away to reveal the summits before sinking down once again to obscure them. They seemed to rise up from the base of the mountains and gave me the impression that the mountains themselves were burning.

Toilet window view

The view from the toilet window in Khangsar

Cloud-cover over Pisang Peak

Cloud-cover over Pisang Peak

We left the hamlet of Khangsar (elevation : 3790m) after 09:00 and walked through the narrow lanes and past the mani walls, prayer wheels, and charming stone houses with flat rooves. We came to a junction right after the hamlet's exit where the right branch led to Yak Kharka (elevation : 4018m) and the left to Tilicho Lake (elevation : 4920m) via Shree Kharka. We ended up taking the latter.

The trail brought us past huge serrated pinnacles that lay across the valley to our left and I could not help but think that they were an indication of what was to come. It wound around the edge of the cliff and could be seen cutting a line across the slopes ahead of us before disappearing in the distance--the distance that was dominated by the river that flowed down the valley slopes towards the Marsyangdi Nadi and shone in the bright rays of the sun. Wind barriers had been erected on some of the rises and the occasional horse (Equus ferus caballus) could be seen grazing on the grass off to the sides.

Looking west from Khangsar

Looking west from Khangsar. The trail can be seen on the right of the image

Tilicho Base Camp in the distance

The trail cutting across the slopes to the right with the river that flows past Tilicho Base Camp in the distance

The whistling of the wind was interspersed by the twittering of birds around us, and the low rumble of the cascades and the waterfalls in the distance was unceasing. The webs of funnel-web spiders (Agelena sp.) could occasionally be seen in the alcoves in the rocks to the right of us, and scattered all around us were swathes of pine trees, clumps of black berries, and a huge variety of flowers.

Wallich geranium (Geranium wallichianum)

Small-leaved trailing bellflower (Cyananthus microphyllus)

Common rock jasmine (Androsace sarmentosa)

Moth on Ajuga lupulina; Vespula wasp on Cortia depressa

Blister beetles (Family : Meloidae) on an onosma plant (Onosma sp.)

Crimson knotweed (Bistorta milletii)

Aster (Aster sp.)

Edelweiss (Leontopodium sp.)

Violet dandelion (Melanoseris macrorhiza)

Himalayan wallflower (Erysimum melicentae)

The crab-claw-like fruit of Gerard joint-fir (Ephedra gerardiana)

Thyrse corydalis (Corydalis thyrsiflora) and great mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Five finger cinquefoil (Potentilla cuneata)

Pterocephalus hookeri

A blister beetle (Family : Meloidae) on aster (Aster sp.)

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We came upon the incongruous Thare Gompa about two kilometres in and the path wound its way up the steep slopes right after. Looking ahead, Shree Kharka (elevation : 4070m) could be seen in the distance, and looking back, the treeline that flanked the dense pine forests on the other side of the valley. The trail climbed all the way up to the junction (2.4 km mark) that branched off to the right to Yak Kharka (elevation : 4018m). We continued left however, past the bridge and the waterfall, and on to the hamlet of Shree Kharka.


Next (Day 9) : Khangsar to Tilicho Base Camp (Part 2)

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Otherworldly


The view was particularly good just after Shree Kharka, so we stopped to cook an early lunch which consisted of chicken soup and oatmeal. Up above, huge groups of alpine choughs (Pyrrhocorax graculus) circled around in bird whirlwinds whilst pairs of eagles rode the thermal currents. We continued on at 12:00, and followed the trail to a suspension bridge before it zig-zagged up the slopes and over to the other side of the shoulder. We crossed two waterfalls approximately five kilometres in and saw numerous other ones from across the valley--at one point we counted six waterfalls that were all within view at the same time!

The landslide-prone area began half a kilometre later. Up until then, the trail had been fringed with flowers and alpine shrubbery, but the terrain had now dramatically changed*: jagged pinnacles emerged from the surface and out into the air, their silhouettes tracing sharp outlines against the sky; crumbly and slippery 45-degree slopes that dropped off to the left, the slightest mis-step on the half-a-metre-wide path sending pebbles and rocks sliding down the slopes; all of which were covered by an otherworldly terrain that was terribly desolate and barren. After a kilometre we reached a patch of green and a signpost indicating that the area was landslide-prone, but was meant for those walking in the other direction. As such, I thought that the surroundings would return to flowers and alpine shrubbery, but I soon found out that it was to last all the way to Tilicho Base Camp.

* Other online entries make it seem as if this area is either extremely hazardous, very strenuous, or quite technical. These are exaggerations and sensationalisations, so please do not be discouraged. As long as you stay on the path, watch your step, and no landslides occur, you will be fine.

landslide-prone area

The trail cutting through the landslide-prone area

Just before the 7km mark, we saw three waterfalls right next to each other that were directly across the valley from us. A spur jutted out that overlooked the valley and gave us a perfect vantage point of the waterfalls. Just around the corner from there, we saw the congruence of the two rivers that gave rise to the Marsyangdi Nadi: one source from the melt-water of the Khangsar Glacier that flowed down from the steep slopes of Khangsar Kang (elevation : 7485m) from the south, and the other source from Phache Khola that ran from the north and down past the base camp itself. The buildings that made up Tilicho Base Camp (elevation : 4150m) could also be seen in the distance, as could the trail that ascended to Tilicho Lake.

We ended up staying at 'Hotel Kangsar Kang' as the other guesthouses had been booked out for very large groups over the next few days. We were not alone in the guesthouse this time around, as the other individual trekkers (which included Rafael and Raleigh) were also forced to stay there. The room ended up costing NPR100/2, and the dhal bhat meal for dinner NPR630.

Route Playback

Suunto Movescount Stats

11a

11b

Expenditure

End of Day 9 Expenditure (NPR)*

Accommodation: 50

Medication: 0

Permits: 0

Food: 860

Transport: 0

TOTAL (NPR)


* Excluding the cost of the flights to and from Nepal

Total

: 885

: 435

: 8700

: 8075

: 460

: 18555 

Next (Day 10) : Tilicho Lake

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