Annapurna: Travel from Herefordshire to Nepal
Wondering if I packed to much
Start of the journey by taxi to Worcester train station. Would have taken the bus but they decided to stop doing any suitable routes a couple of months ago. Had my first experience carrying the big yellow duffel bag up the flight of steps to the train platform. This was not going to be a walk in the park!
Train to Birmingham New Street and then towards Euston station in London. Then came the very difficult but as not only was the duffel bag heavy it was also massively big. The worst was the Piccadilly line towards Heathrow as the tube was so buy I struggled to offload the bag. Nobody gives a shit on the tube and boy did I feel it. I though the Piccadilly line had more space for luggage as there would be more traffic to and from the airport. Not really. Luckily I picked a hotel right next to the airport terminal that you just had to go down a gangway to get to. And to my pleasant surprise you could wheely the airport trolley (with your luggage) right into the hotel room.
As my flight wasn’t till about 3pm I splashed out for an airport lounge. Never seen an inside of one in person and it didn’t disappoint. Very quiet, complimentary food, hot and cold drinks and a charger right next to your seat. Could get used to this. Damn, I have been missing out. However I don’t think they would even let you in if they knew you had an easyJet ticket.
One of the biggest highlights was flying the biggest commercial passenger jet in operation, the mighty Airbus A380.
One nice thing you see on these more modern setups is that its very difficult to sit in the wrong seat as the number is literally written on the display in front of you.
The flight from London Heathrow was about 6h and arrived in Doha in the middle of the night. But the place was buying. Looks like Doha airport has no noticeable restrictions on operating in nighttime. Supposed to have 1.5h in between flights which was just about right considering the bloody size of the airport. It was very difficult not to notice the impending FIFA world cup that was going to happen a month or so later in Qatar. Didn’t take any photos as I was walking round the place on autopilot, just trying to make sure I arrived at the correct gate. The flight to Kathmandu was on time and was on a much smaller Airbus A330. One thing that stuck in my mind was listening to the onboard Qatar airways “elevator” music. It was annoying and mesmerizing at the same time.
And me being a bit of a nerd I tracked it down so if you wish to re-live this with me then here you go.
The flight to Kathmandu took about 4-5h and we landed in the early morning local time. I thought I was prepared to what I needed to get through immigration but there was this weird rush of people into queues. One queue was forming in front of a row of PCs. Turns out that was to use for visa applications. Luckily I did that back home. You then have to queue again to pay for the visa. They you queue yet again for the actual passport check. They also apply your visa to your passport. There was another queue but that was for money exchange. I decided I’ll do that in Kathmandu. Picked up my bag and immediately realised I really would need a trolley. Of course I picked the most dodgy ones for miles around that seemed to have a mind of its own. And apparently its own destination. Got ut of the terminal building into absolute chaos. Chaos in a lot of heat. Luckily I soon spotted the welcome guy who directed me to the pre-paid taxi that then took me through the very chaotic Kathmandu streets to the hotel. The hotel was hidden in a very busy narrow street in the centre of the more tourist/shopping area of the city called Thamel. Had a weird room with one window that overlooked the staircase. At least I got the aircon to work. Lookig at other hotel rooms on their website now I must of had their lowest of the low grade room. Tried to get some sleep before our meeting with the guides and the other hikers. Weirdly it got pushed back a few hours. There was a reason. Couldn’t really get any sleep, when we landed it was about middle of the night in the UK so by the time I was ready to rest it was early morning UK time. So got some food and wandered the streets of Thamel taking in the very new and to me unusual surroundings.
Met the rest of the team I was going to hike with, there were 11 of us. And we found out that the issue was. We were a little surprised we didn’t hear of this before. The meeting took place on Sunday, October 9th. Basically the Annapurna Circuit Trek (ACT) was off. Like completely off. There was some more unseasonal rains that extended into the drier season and the weather was so severe it caused a lot of landslides. The trails were in places completely gone. There was also heavy snowfall at Thorong La pass making it impassable. So we were debating the option of doing the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek but turns out that route had its own challenges, albeit connected to the same weather issues as at ACT. The trek includes a flight from Kathamndu to Lukla aiport and Lukla has been shut due to poor visibility. This is not an easy airport to land at and its one of the more “dangerous” airports in the world. The airport now reopened but they had such a huge backlog of people to get back we were way low on the list and we would not have enough time to get to Lukla and then complete the trek. The hiking part for EBC is about the same as for ACT.
Turns out that the police closed the ACT completely on safety grounds. Some of it might have to do with the tragedy that happened on the ACT and surrounding areas in 2014 when a freak and severe snowstorm killed 43 people.
Later pressure was put on the Nepalese government to be more pro-active if severe weather and potentially close dangerous routes.
The hike operator strongly suggested we consider doing for e a completely un-researched trek called Annapurna Base Camp (ABC). Even though it just on the other side if the Annapurnas the weather there was much better, there were not closures, no landslides and also no snowfalls. After a intense discussion we decided to go for ABC. Only one girl pulled out as she had more time to try the EBC trek.
I guess this will happened in the mountains. I have read about climbers trying to each the hight 8k peaks only to have to return back because of weather or avalanches. Better to to live and try another day.