“Our” roof of the world: Thorong-La Pass (5416 m.)

Beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-beep!!! 3h30 in the morning, our alarm clock rings. Quickly we sit up because today is THE great day: we are going to go to the highest point of our trek: Thorong-La Pass at 5416 m. altitude. All around us we hear people rumbling around while we quickly (believe us: this cold makes you very fast indeed) get out of our sleeping bags and into the cold night. When we get to the dining room, a lot of people are already awake and trying to get their breakfast as soon as possible. There is some excitement in the air: for most people this is the real highlight of the trip, for others it’s the part of the trip they are most scared off: will I make it to the top? And what about that slight headache? Isn’t that possibly altitude sickness?

Jean-Christophe and I are feeling fine: tired because of bad sleep, (due to the altitude and the excitement) the excitement and the rumbling around of people in other rooms until late in the night and then early in this morning. But we feel ready for it and once our breakfast is finished (noodle soup for warmth and a Tibetan bread for energy) we head off into the night with our headlights on. The sky is full of stars, the Milky Way and several planets and our path is lighted a little bit by a half moon. What an experience! The first hour goes up steeply to “High Camp” (4800 m.) but because of the darkness and the magic of tens of headlights following each other up the hill, we don’t realize we’re going up, too busy and concentrated on breathing and enjoying this cold but magical night. Nobody is speaking and the only thing we hear is breathing and the noise of footsteps in the night. Far away the ringing of small bells to indicate horses coming up…

After Basecamp we meet the first fresh snow. It’s cold, and after a short stop, just enough to have a sip of water, we set off again, to continue in the dawn with the crisping of fresh snow under our feet. Slowly but steadily the rising sun is turning the snow-covered landscape in a magical blanket of glittering white stars. And the more it gets up, the more those stars turn into tinkling colors of red, orange and yellow. By enjoying this landscape we forget we are walking and before we know it we are at the last “Teahouse” before the top: 5100 m. 300 meters to go. The last half hour up is easy therefore giving us time to enjoy plainly this incredible wake-up of mountains around us bathing in shadows of yellow, orange and red.

And then it’s there: prayer flags indicate the highest point and we can see them from far, flapping in the glacial wind as if to welcome us and congratulate us for coming there. At 7h30 we are standing at the top of Thorong-La, 3 hours after we left! And it’s great! We are feeling good and adrenaline makes us forget about the cold (it’s -8 degrees). The view to both sides is fantastic: high mountains on one side (it’s strange to imagine that those mountains are still 3 km higher than where we are standing) and the arid and dry valley of Muktinath towards the other side. It’s great to be there and to be able to say “We did it!”. :-)

Unfortunately after 15 minutes cold starts to seep through our 6 layers of clothes and we are forced to go down, leaving this magical place behind. The descent of 1800 meters to Muktinath is very steep and quickly we realize that “going up the pass” isn’t the real challenge of this day; it’s this descent. Ice and snow don’t make it easier on our knees and thighs that have a hard time braking and keeping us standing.

Back in Muktinath we are happy to have a Masala Tea (spicy Nepali tea, very nice, for those interested I can mail the recipe), have a well-deserved hot shower and enjoy the sunshine while we linger over our achievements. What a great day! :-)

Vera & Jean-Christophe


  1. Posted December 6, 2007 at 14:54 | Permalink

    vera, ik geloof dat ik de wandelschoenen ga inlopen, ik denk dat ik zoiets ook wel wil doen, groetjes mam

  2. Florent
    Posted December 6, 2007 at 16:49 | Permalink

    Waou… Ca a du être un sacré moment :-)

    Et sinon :

    Tibetan bread for energy = Lembas ? :-)

  3. Posted December 6, 2007 at 22:44 | Permalink

    a magical night in your magical world ! ;-)

  4. Vera
    Posted December 7, 2007 at 9:58 | Permalink

    Lembas? The magical elve bread? Well I think that recipe is a secret and not available to humans. :-)
    Tibetan bread is a fried piece of flat bread, a bit sweet and people eat it plain, with jam or honey. And because it’s fried, it provides a lot of energy.

  5. taty ;-)
    Posted December 7, 2007 at 11:39 | Permalink

    un mois à attendre de vos nouvelles, ce fut long! aussi, je savoure votre joie à *l’extrême*: dans et avec tous les *sens*! ;-)
    la *magie* de votre voyage est perceptible,’visible’ dans vos photos….alors merci, infiniment merci pour ce partage de votre aventure qui nous amène à regarder plus loin que le bout de notre nez ;-)
    vera, je suis admirative! quelle magnifique jeune femme tu es dans cet univers dont tu témoignes! et vous êtes *beaux* tous les deux!
    gros, gros bisous de votre ‘vieille’ taty de richebourg qui, grâce à vous, se sent pleine d’énergie!

  6. Vera
    Posted December 7, 2007 at 13:47 | Permalink

    Olala, tu me fais rougir devant l’ecran! :-)

  7. Posted December 9, 2007 at 20:28 | Permalink

    It’s fine to know that you both are still alive;-)

    Wonderful pictures and the story is so impresseive. I’m still jealous. Hope you both are fine and happy.

    The picture with Vera and the other happy lady is one of the best (it’s not easy to say that, they are all really beautiful).

  8. Vera
    Posted December 10, 2007 at 15:37 | Permalink

    @Juergen: Still somebody else flattering me? In the post number 5 I got the same comments. Thanks! :-)

  9. Posted December 11, 2007 at 23:37 | Permalink

    Vera, finally my flattering arrives after years I mate like a peacock;-) Now when you are thousands of kilometers away from me.

    Greetings to Jean-Christophe!