After our race, Young Ankit and I struck up some conversation as we sat waiting for the rest of our group to catch up with us. Ankit was working as a porter, carrying the diplomat’s pack, but I had noticed that he seemed a little different from the rest of the porters. Younger, less beat-down. He was more wide-eyed, and certainly more social. Many of the other porters didn’t even speak English. Ankit was animated, articulate, and curious about life in countries other than his own.
It turned out, this was his first-ever trek. He was 15.
It was all still an adventure to him.
As I predicted, breakfast and departure from Annapurna Base Camp was a quick affair. Our objective accomplished, everyone had caught the scent of civilization. We’d get down about twice as fast as we had gotten up — we’d be back to Pokhara in three days.
The sign leaving Base Camp read “THANK YOU 4 BEING TOGETHER WITH US. HAVE A FANTASTIC TREKKING. SEE YOU AGAIN.”
It was one of the greatest signs I’d ever seen in my life.
(almost landed this chapter on 100… so close…)
I awoke shivering in my thin sleeping bag at Annapurna Base Camp. My sleep had been shaky, at best. This was probably the twelfth time I had awoken in the middle of the night, but this time, the room was ever-so-slightly lighter. I looked at my phone. 5:30 a.m. Good enough.
I clearly wasn’t going to be getting any more sleep.
Sunrise over Annapurna. This was what we’d come for.
Saffron, Linjon and I were sharing a room. Here at ABC, space was limited, and they were putting us three to a room, instead of just two.
I didn’t mind the extra company — Linjon had been an amigo on the trail, and after all, we were just going to be sleeping. Why would the presence of another person in the room matter to me?
The term “base camp trek” is one of the great tricks of Nepali marketing.
For me at least, when I hear the term “Everest Base Camp,” for example, I imagine a sprawling encampment of climber’s tents: guiding companies, porters, sherpa, and people intensely discussing the weather forecast and acclimatization techniques.
Which is, of course, what goes on at Everest Base Camp.
But the Everest Base Camp trek doesn’t actually go to that spot. It stops a little bit short, at the last trekking lodges. To go further, to the actual base camp, one needs to be an actual climber.
The same is true at Annapurna. Our Base Camp trek ended short of the actual glacier — before anything got serious.