TREKKING AND CLIMBING ON THE ANNAPURNA MASSIF
Most people are familiar with the great Mount Everest located in the Himalayas, but what many do not know is that this mighty mountain range is housed by a landlocked country in South Asia called Nepal. Nepal is home to a rich heritage and culture, as well as eight out of the ten tallest peaks in the world, including the Annapurna Massif in the north-central region.
The Annapurna Massif (or Annapurna Mountain) derives its name, “Annapurna,” from the words anna (meaning “food”) and purna (meaning “filled”) in the Sanskrit language. In other words, Annapurna can be translated directly to mean “filled with food” or “everlasting food.” Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food and nourishment, and it is believed that she resides within the mountain range.
The Annapurna Mountain also has the reputation of being one of the world’s deadliest to those who try to summit it. Because of its 32% fatality rate since 1990, few people attempt to summit. The Annapurna death rate is one of the highest of the eight-thousanders, with only Mount Kangchenjunga having a higher fatality rate.
That notwithstanding, the Annapurna Massif is still one of the favorite climbing and trekking destinations in the whole world, and thousands of people show up every year to climb the peaks and undertake the Annapurna Massif trek through different trekking routes, and it’s always an unforgettable experience. As a matter of fact, the first set of people to climb the Annapurna Massif in an expedition in 1950, led by Maurice Herzog, succeeded the very first time they tried!
This said, before you take that leap of faith and come over to the wonderful, fast-developing nation of Nepal to enjoy the rich culture and, of course, to trek and climb the Annapurna Massif, it’s important that you learn a little about the climbable peaks and trekking routes.
ANNAPURNA MASSIF CLIMBABLE PEAKS
Aside Annapurna I (the main eight-thousander Annapurna Mountain peak), there are other climbable peaks where the “Annapurna death rate” is much lower. In total, the Annapurna Massif has 13 peaks over 7000 meters high and 16 peaks over 6000 meters. But the most prominent climbable peaks are:
- Annapurna I (Main) – 8,091m (26,545ft), first summited by Maurice Herzog, Louis Lachenal, Lionel Terray, Gaston Rebuffat, Marcel, Ichac, Jean Couzy, Marcel, Shatz, Jacques Oudot and Francis de Noyelle (1950)
- Annapurna II – 7,937m (26,040ft), first summited by J. O. M. Roberts, Richard Grant, Chris Bonington and Sherpa Ang Nyima (1960)
- Annapurna III – 7,555m (24,787ft), first summited by Mohan Singh Kohli, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Girmi (1961)
- Annapurna IV – 7,525m (24,688ft), first summited by Heinz Steinmetz, Herald Biller, Jurgen Wellenkamp (1955)
- Gangapurna – 7,455m (24,457ft), first summited by Gunther Hauser and 10 others (1964)
- Annapurna South – 7,219m (23,684ft), first summited by a 6-person team from Kyoto University Alpine Club (1964)
ANNAPURNA MASSIF TREKKING ROUTES
Here are some of the most popular Annapurna Massif trekking routes, so that you can set your mind at ease and prepare yourself for the Annapurna Massif trek and other exciting adventures that await you on this journey. Are you ready?
The route taken during the Annapurna Base Camp Trek is one of the most common treks in the Annapurna region. It is also called the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek and it combines a lot of great Himalayan views, as well as a vista of Nepalese culture as you traverse the highs and lows of various well-known peaks and mountains on the Himalayas.
When you undertake the Annapurna Base Camp Trek, you go through the rhododendron forests, and pass by terraced farms in the middle hills. This way, you get to experience the beautiful scenery of the local villages and get a sneak-peek of their lifestyle.
The Annapurna Base Camp itself is a high glacial basin lying at 40 km north of Pokhara (a metropolitan city in Nepal and the capital of the Gandaki Pradesh province) is located at an elevation of 4,130 meters (or 13,550 feet).
Some of the climbable peaks and mountains you’ll come across on your journey to the Annapurna Base Camp include: Dhaulagiri, Himchuli, Machhapuchhre, and of course, the Annapurna Mountain itself.
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek takes a period of approximately 14 days to complete.
The Annapurna Circuit Trek distance varies depending on the route you take and whether or not you choose to entertain yourself with side treks, but on average, it is about 170 km to 230 km. This trip could take between 16 to 20 days to complete, depending on your speed.
Taking this trip means you must go through Thorong La Pass, which is the highest point of the trek and one of the most amazing sights you could ever see.
When planning to undertake the Annapurna Circuit Trek, bear in mind that the best times of the year to go about this expedition are October to early December, or late February to April. Attempting this trek outside this period would mean risking getting snowed in – or worse.
Some of the climbable peaks and mountains you’ll encounter as you traverse the Annapurna circuit include: the Gangapurna, Pisang Peak, Paungda Danda, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Tilicho Peak, Manaslu and the Annapurna Massif (Annapurna I – IV).
- Khopra Ridge Trek
The Khopra Ridge Trek is one of the easiest treks to undergo if you’re a beginner. The average time taken to complete this trek is 6 to 9 days, and the highest elevation is the sacred Khayar Barahi Lake (4500 meters or 14,760 feet). The beautiful landscape will keep you awestruck throughout your journey, as you experience the lifestyle of the ethnic villages and the wildlife of the region.
The trek is made more picture perfect during the spring, when the light of the sun appears to beautify the mountains. Some of the peaks you’ll come across on this journey include: the Annapurna, Nilgiri and Dhaulagiri.
The Annapurna Panorama Trek, just like the Khopra Ridge Trek, is also easy to complete for beginners. It takes a short 6 days to go through the entire process, but they are guaranteed to be the best 6 days you’ll ever have. October is the best time to go to view the mountains, but April is the best time to go to see the Rhododendron flowers.
You can enjoy the warmth from both the sun and kind villagers while you take your time to complete this trek.
The Mardi Himal Trek takes about 11 days to complete, making it a moderate level trek. Undertaking this trek, you’ll see sights like the Annapurna peaks, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre and Manaslu.
The Mardi Himal Trek is also best undertaken during the spring, so that you can get the best of the spring’s sun and warmth on the mountain ranges in addition to the Rhododendron blooms.
Every mountain range in Nepal and the Himalayas was divinely designed for you to visit, climb, trek and experience. Sitting in your couch year in, year out, is tantamount to wasting all these beauties the universe has provided us with, especially when you have that burning desire to experience the wonders of the world. Getting up and out of your comfort zone and making the move to the Annapurna Massif so that you can experience these gifts should be among your major plans.