Monday, April 22, 2013

Challenging your limits, the Tilicho Trekking….

Challenging your limits, the Tilicho Trail is one of the most popular trekking routes in the world. Most of
the tourists who come to Nepal go through this trekking route as it gives an overwhelming experience
of both adrenalin as well as natural beauty. It gives you the opportunities to trek within the Himalayan
range, along trails that takes one as high as 5,416m at the Thorang-La pass and at a height of 4,919
meters. Another attraction of this trekking route is the mysterious Tilicho Lake that holds the reputation
of being located at an elevation of being the highest lake. Its reputation precedes by its image of crystal
clear and emerald green water that sits quietly below Tilicho Peak, which towers above at 7,132 meters.
The unique geographical location of the Lake, situated in within the Annapurna Range, gives it the
adventurous essence. With a three days trek, the Tilicho trail starts from Manang, and should only be
undertaken by well-equipped and experienced guides. The route is highly challenging and demands a
high alert safety.

However, another most important fact is that one has to remain at high altitudes for considerable
period of time so altitude sickness is yet another obstacle. With this trekking one needs to have
excellent camping gear, food, and clothing for high altitudes on this trail as a large section of the trail is
at high altitudes and it is necessary to camp high one has to be properly acclimatized, or allow time for
it. The descending trail out of Manang follows the wooden bridge spanning the Marsyandi River, climbs
to a long flat ridge leading into a beautiful pine forest, and finally descends to another wooden bridge
across the Kangsar Khola - before climbing up to Kangsar (3,700m) where there are two small lodges.
From Kangsar, there are three trails to Tilicho Base Camp, taking 4-6 hours, depending on the trail.

The shortest and usually least dangerous path descends from Kangsar to the river, crosses a metal
suspension bridge, and follows the riverbank through wooded areas. It is best to ask the locals in
Kangsar about trail conditions. About 3 hours walking up-river, you cross a primitive bridge, ascend
steeply, and follow the ridge along a path to Tilicho Base Camp. The second path from Kangsar arrives
after about two hours at Gompa, which is an interesting place to visit.

The third trail rises steeply and circuitously, and takes about two hours longer. It descends rapidly
down a switchback landslide into Tilicho Base Camp, at about 4,300m. From Tilicho Base Camp the path
continues up along moraine ridges and grassy slopes to some large switchbacks carved out on the slope
till you reach a watershed. On the other side is Tilicho Lake. It is not possible to go around the edges of
the lake, so it is best to ascend to a ridge at 5,000m, overlooking Tilicho Lake. Campsites are also found
on its north eastern shore.

Altitude sickness like shortness of breath, exhaustion, headache, etc is the often felt symptoms so
travelers and trekkers have to be smart. Staying at the lake for more than an hour is not a comfortable
experience so it is best to descend quickly to the base camp. One can also descend to the base camp at
Manang on the lower path, which is another four hours plus. Another option is to make the trip from
Base Camp to Tilicho Lake and return to Manang in one long, rather tiring day. From Kangsar at Manang,
you can also go straight to Thorung Phedi (4,420m) and cross Thorung La (5,416m) and descend either
to Muktinath (eight hours) or walk another hour to Jharkot. It is only another three hours to Jomsom
from there.

There are two possible passes from Tilicho Lake to Jomsom, the first one is the Meso Kanto La (pass),
which unfortunately leads to a restricted military training area. An alternative option is to cross Meso
Kanto La from the north and find the traverse to Thini. Going that way will bypass the restricted area

and solve this problem. The crux is that the west slope of Meso Kanto La is very steep. When it is
snow covered, it may at best be an excruciating snow trudge but it can also be avalanche prone or not
negotiable at all without crampons, ice axe and ropes. Snow and ice can be expected there from early
September to May. The second trail is famous among tourists and is known as the Tourist La ( pass). As
the name suggests, this is much easier to negotiate and from the pass trekkers have a view far into Tibet
and Mustang.

The best seasons to visit Tilicho Lake are June, July and August. Conventional wisdom has it that it is not
only stupid, but nearly suicidal, to trek during the monsoons. But, during the monsoon season, Tilicho is
at its best, when other areas are experiencing rain. Anyone venturing up in the other seasons will find
Tilicho, although stunningly beautiful, cold and inhospitable. It is freezing cold between October to May
and snow, which rarely melts, can fall any time. Furthermore, one has to cross some steep slopes that
are avalanche prone when snow covered.

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