Day 9 Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi

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Day 9

Yak Kharka

Thorung Phedi

North

28°43.11'

28°46.35'

East

83°58.59'

83°58.60'

Altitude

4,150m

4,550m

Ascent

400m

Time

2 hours 40 minutes

Distance

8 kilometres

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Leave the wonderful food of Yak Kharka behind. After 20 minutes you will arrive at a small chorten. The path crosses a broad yak pasture. This is a great place for yak watching, but don't get too close. Cross a bridge beneath Chullu. At the top of a small rise is a beautiful view of Gangapurna. Not surprisingly there is a tea house here from where one may admire the view. You can also see the head of the valley from where the Thorung La climbs up and over to Muktinath.

Pass the Churi Lattar hotel (30 minutes) [28°44.09'N 89°58.64'E] at 4,190 metres. Nearby you will also find the:

  • Jim Jimi Hotel
  • Julong White Hotel
  • Chullu West Hotel

There are some small plots of vegetables under cultivation just behind the hotels, which is remarkable for an altitude of over 4,000 metres. Lattar has excellent views of Gangapurna and Annapurna III. As you ascend, the mountains themselves seem to grow. This is due to the reduction of the foreshortening effect which is most strong in the high mountains of the Himalayas. The stream below you, the Kone Khola is just a trickle by comparison with the Marsyandi lower down.

Pass a beautiful green lakelet (1 hour 10 minutes) which lies below on the left. The view from here is magical. Conveniently there is a resting place for your rucksack by the path above.

On the opposite side of the Kone Khola is a waterfall (1 hour 30 minutes).

From October 1999, due to a landslide, an alternative path now continues along the east bank of the Kone Khola to the lower lodge of Thorung Phedi. At the lower lodge cross the river to climb up to Thorung Phedi Base Camp Lodge.

( The old route was to descend to a bridge over the clear waters of the Kone Khola. The path zig-zags steeply up the left bank. At the top of the climb reach a small tea house (2 hours) [28°45.56'N 83°58.28'E] at 4,470 metres. Continue along the path. )

Yaks graze here. They have right of way. If you meet one on the path, pass it on the uphill side of the path.

Thorung Phedi (2 hours 40 minutes) at 4,550 metres has two lodges. Staying at the higher one, Base Camp, means less ascent in the morning. Base Camp is much larger than the lower lodge.

(In 1998 a high camp was constructed an hour or so above Thorung Phedi. There have been persistent reports in 1999 of poor conditions here - such as kerosene in the water, poor ventilation, cramped accomodation and very cold conditions. The consensus seems to be that saving the extra hour the next morning is not worth it - my recommendation therefore is to stay in Thorung Phedi 'Base Camp'.)

Thorung Phedi is very reminiscent of the Devil's Kitchen area of Ogwen, North Wales, UK. Rock cliffs split by deep gorges rise all around. Vegetation is sparse. The magnificent views down the valley are now just a memory. From Thorung Phedi you cannot see any of the great mountains. The Thorung La pass climbs the even slope behind the 3 chortens next to the Base Camp Lodge.

Base Camp lodge, although quite large, can become very crowded. If you have mild AMS here, as many people do, it can seem unfriendly and intimidating. With the large numbers in the restaurant, order your food early.

The toilets are terrifying and must be the single greatest objective danger on the Annapurna Circuit. Be careful, especially if you are suffering from ataxia, not to fall in. I had nightmares about these latrines for several weeks afterwards. In 1997 many of the latrines were 'full'. Yuk.

Revised 26 November 1999

Copyright Ian P Johnson October 1998