I have not been able to get an update through from the satellite phone so I’m afraid that, unless things change, updates will be less often than I hoped and I will be dependent on Clare (aka Radar) to provide them.
We moved from Pokhara to Jomsom on the early flight Thursday morning. The views of the mountains from the windows of the small Twin Otter plane were stupendous as Annapurna, Annapurna 2 and Manaslu swept by. The flight was just 25 minutes and so we landed not too long after taking off and soon met up with Gyalbu our head Sherpa/porter and his team of 3. Their news wasn’t good – there were no horses or ponies to be had in Jomsom. In light of this we decided not to remain there for the night but to move up to Kagbeni straight away.
An early move to Kagbeni was beneficial on a number of counts in addition to the availability of horses. First we would have an opportunity to gain early acclimatisation and second we could stay at ‘Yac Donalds’ a particularly good hotel whose owner was a friend of Tim’s.
After a toast and egg breakfast at Jomsom, and a brunch of Dhal Bhat on its outskirts following some last minute foraging for essential supplies, we headed north up the wife but largely dry river. Arriving at Yac Donalds in late afternoon, after a period of bag re-packing we explored the village and visited the old monastery. While a new monastery is being constructed next to the old it was the latter which intrigued us with its ochre walls and traditional interior appearing unchanged for centuries.
An early dinner of yak burger and chips washed down with Gurkha beer and a local moonshine known as roxy (or similar spelling) was followed by an early night. The first day of the trek may not have been that long at just 8 miles but as we were at approaching 3000m the effects of altitude were telling.
The following day, Friday 4th November, after breakfast we walked to a old village some miles away to the east: Jarkot. While the village itself was in a beautiful location the route was through very barren terrain mostly alongside a road. Actually I should call it a dusty track inhabited by numerous motorcycles and many old buses. While the former were fairly mobile the latter struggled with inclines and together all these vehicles churned grey dust interminably.
The exercise, and exposure to altitude of over 3500m was nonetheless worth eating dirt for several hours and we returned to Yac Donalds for a second night.
Tomorrow we head up into the mountains. I hope to have better luck posting via satphone tomorrow!