​The Big One: Over the Top: 12 December 2017

It was a few days later that I first heard about the concept of different types of fun.  Apparently, Type 1 fun is when something is fun to do and also fun to remember.  Type 2 fun is when something is not fun to do but is fun to remember.  It’s fair to say that this (at least for me) was probably a day of Type 2 fun.  


After practically no sleep at all (it is very hard to sleep at high altitude), the day’s activities officially started at 3.45am with breakfast at 4am and then around 4.40am, we started the 1000m ascent up in the dark and freezing cold to the Thorung La (“La” means mountain pass).  It was a clear night and the moon and stars were out, but we still needed our head torches to see our steep path upwards, especially when navigating the icy patches (just to throw another challenge at us).  As light broke around 6.20am, it became a bit easier, but it was still around the minus 17 mark and it was hard going climbing up in the really thin air to the heady height of 5416 metres, breathing pretty heavily just trying to catch your breath.  And still the climb went on!  But with the patience and encouragement of our guide and a turbo energy boost from eating my first Mars bar in 20 years, we made the pass in pretty good time.  [Pause here for a self-congratulatory pat on the back].

The rest of the day was then spent going down and then more down – 1600m descent in total which in some ways was just as hard as going up (albeit the air quality was less challenging).  Unfortunately for me, I became rather dehydrated resulting in a severe headache.  Up until that point in the trek, I’d been pretty good at drinking lots and lots of water (over 5 litres each day as we went to increasingly high altitude: drinking H2O is another way of trying to maintain the oxygen in your body) but today all my drinking water froze while climbing up to the Thorung La.  And there weren’t any shops at 5416m either!  The day, however, ended well on arrival at our tea house in Muktinath with a hot shower and relatively comfortable bed to boot.

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