A fairly relaxed morning again with the wake up call set to 7am. Breakfast pancake with jam before the hike starts to Tilicho Base camp at 4165m Metres.
The hike to base camp is extremely treacherous with numerous land slides that have eliminated the path, as well as very steep and slippery slopes that you need to climb and descend. You are rewarded, however, with incredible views and the odd blue sheep, hiding in plain sight on the slopes.
The hike is relatively short, at approximately 3 hours long. We arrived at Tilicho Base Camp and offloaded our bags into our rooms. As we’ve found, in every tea house since Manang, the adverts for free wifi are a lie. It is good to be off grid though and the conversation more than makes up for it.
As we had arrived in Tilicho base camp, more specifically at the Hotel Moon Lake, so early, at only just past 11am, we chose to push on to Tilicho Lake, the worlds highest lake at just under 5000m. So, after a quick pit stop for some more Dahl Baht, we stripped all unnecessary weight from our day sacks, packed some warm clothes and headed up the mountain towards the lake.
The path is steep and relentless. As with the rest of the trail so far, the sun also makes it very hot going. At 4800m we were still walking in short sleeves, and in some cases shorts. The facilities on this path are almost non existent, limited to two toilet huts which are little more than concrete sheds with two tiny rooms with a hole in the floor in each. They don’t appear to be maintained and are really quite disgusting to use.
In April, when we made this journey, the lake is frozen over. What nobody had mentioned is that the path to the lake is also covered in about 1.5m of snow. This made the final 100m climb and approximately 2km of walking extremely difficult. In many cases we found ourselves sinking into the snow up to our waists and having to pull each other out. This last push was by far the most difficult and the slowest, taking around an hour to cover the snow field before we reached the lake.
When we eventually reached the lake the view was jaw dropping. The mountains casting a shadow over the huge expanse of ice. As it was close to sunset the shadows were long and the colour of the light was golden, which really contrasted with the blue ice.
With the sun setting fast and the temperature dropping, we realised that we needed to descend the mountain as quickly as possible, before we were plunged into darkness. We quickly made our way back over the snow, which had become very difficult to traverse. The cloud was rapidly closing so it was doubly important tat the group stuck together. Luckily, Raj, Ram and Navin were excellent at guiding us to safety and ensuring that we stuck together.
As we cleared the snow the light was dropping and we all made sure that we had our head torches at the ready. Quickly we trekked back down the slope towards the base camp, racing the dying light. Just as the light was failing we caught a glimpse of the tea house below. Before long we were safely back in the dining room, tucking into more Dahl Baht, a wave of tiredness washing over us. Soon after dinner we all made our way to bed.