ACT Day 10 - Tilicho Lake

The Cirque

We entered a landslide-prone area after two kilometres of walking. The mist had creeped in from behind us and had left almost everything obscured by a whiteout. The scree ended a few hundred metres later and a series of sixteen switchbacks that zig-zagged up the steep slopes of the mountain began. They were covered with grassy terrain at first but the grass quickly gave way to stones and boulders. By the time we reached the last switchback, we had made an elevation gain of about a hundred metres. The trail continued to climb the slopes till an elevation of at least 4900m, and then levelled off as it entered a cirque of sorts--what I can only describe as a 'bowl'. The cirque gave us very good shelter because as soon as we entered, the wind completely died down and all sounds of the river disappeared--leaving us in complete and utter silence.

Descending mist

The descending mist

We were not too far from the lake at that point as there was a sign that stated "Lake 35 minutes away", and despite the large amount of rock pollution--unnecessary cairns that were 'pointless reminders of the human ego'--the shelter that the cirque offered us made us decide to stop for lunch, which ended up being tibetan bread that was soaked in steaming hot chicken soup. As we ate, we kept on hearing sounds of avalanches to the south-west; little did we know then that the avalanches from the multiple icefalls that we were to encounter later would continue on for the rest of our stay at the lake. We also spotted several Himalayan blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), also known as bharals, grazing on the sparse alpine grass in the distance.

Himalayan blue sheep

A Himalayan blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur)


Edelweiss (Leontopodium sp.)

The mist began to part just as Raleigh, the only nice United Statian that we had met on the trip, came back towards us on her way back to the lodge. We then spotted sections of the icefall to our left, which was both a precursor for what was to come as well as something that spurred us forwards. As we rounded the sides of the cirque, at least seven icefalls that plummeted down the steep eastern slopes of Tilicho Peak (elevation : 7134m) could be seen and three smaller tarns came into view soon after. I thought it interesting then that Annapurna Base Camp was located only 15 kilometres directly south from there--a distance that I could run in just over an hour on flat terrain, but was impossible here because of the presence of the 'Grande Barriere'.

A common red Apollo

A common red Apollo (Parnassius epaphus); alpine gentians (Gentiana nubigena)

Next (Day 10) : Tilicho Lake (Part 3)

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