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An early start and a short walk.

It is not far from Machapuchare Base camp to Annapurna Base camp but it does sit 430 meters higher. We started early because we needed to get to ABC ( Annapurna Base Camp) before the sun started to melt the snow and increase the chance of avalanches. It was a relatively easy but slightly surreal walk. There were some people coming down from ABC. Usually as you passed them you would ask what it was like. Amazing was the inevitable reply. Pretty soon the temperature had gone up to somewhere between 27 and 30C. The increase in temperature was accompanied by the distant “crack” that heralded the start of some avalanche somewhere in the near vicinity. The helicopter was busy too. We must have seen it fly over 4 or 5 times within a few hours although we could not tell if there had been climbing accident or wether it was trekkers having to be taken down because of altitude sickness.

ABC is a stunning place. Surrounded by the most beautiful peaks and populated by people who, like us, don’t seem to be able to believe that they are really there.

After lunch we went up to where the prayer flags were. It was a memorial to those who had died on the mountain. It was sobering to realise that many relations of those who had died had made the journey to ABC as part of the process of coming to terms with what had happened to their loved ones. There were messages from children to a dead parent and from lovers to a dead partner. 56 lives have been lost on the mountain, many to avalanches. Annapurna 1 has the highest fatality rate for any mountain over 8000m. If I remember correctly it also has a higher failure rate for summit attempts than Everest.

The sun went down and the moon rose again.

Such a strange mix of emotions