On November 8th, 2018, we embarked on a 16 day trek around Mount Manaslu. We did not go alone. Far from it! Joining us were 7 friends from Canada, 4 Nepali porters, our guide Kamal (Jasper's dad), and Kamal's neighbour who wanted to see more of his own country. So everywhere we went, we had great company!
Manaslu is the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8,163 metres above sea level. We started our trek at 730 metres in the beautiful Buddhi Gandaki river valley, which is hemmed in by steep valley walls and surrounded by banana and orange trees and productive farmland full of vegetables and grains. After 11 days of walking, we crossed the long and flat high-elevation Larke La (pass) at 5,135 metres. Then we walked all the way back down the other side, ending our trip at 1,430m 14 days after we started.
If you ever feel inspired to trek in Nepal, please reach out to us as we highly recommend Kamal, Jasper's dad as a guide. He is fun and funny and he works very hard to make all aspects of a trek go smoothly from start to finish. (He is the super-tall man in the photo above - he may in fact be the tallest Nepali man in the country).
It was an amazing journey and I urge anyone who has ever considered trekking in Nepal to consider the Manaslu circuit: we loved it! Without further ado, here are some photos from our trek.
Our journey begins! Although occasionally it gets delayed to allow a local goat herd to pass...
As we got higher the views got more and more amazing. All signs early on pointed to up, up, up!
Photo credit: Wiley Ho.
As we got higher up we would get glimpses such as these of Mount Manaslu and the surrounding mountains. The views were absolutely stunning, especially when a village was in the foreground, since it gave an idea of the incomprehensible size and height of the mountains.
We crossed a lot of suspension bridges. They have been improved in the last 7 years but historically a lot of these would have been rickety wood bridges. Yikes!
Can you see all the tiny people crossing the bridge?
A view back down the valley we had just walked - at the site of Pangen Gompa. Surrounded by giant mountains on every side, we wanted to stay here all day.
This was one of our favourite places to lodge. It was just built in the last few months and was a great place to rest for the night.
As as we hiked North closer to the Tibetan border, we started to see many of the symbols of the Buddhist religion: stupas like this one, gompas (monasteries), mani walls (walls of stacked stones covered in prayers) and boulders carved with countless "Om Mani Padme Ohm" mantras.
We also saw that the style of dress worn by villagers changed dramatically. Up high where it is so cold all the time, the kids wear super-insulated "bathrobe-style" overcoats to stay as cozy as possible.
We began our hardest day of hiking at 4 am in order to cross Larke Pass. We were so happy to finally arrive at our lodge in time for dinner after a very long and chilly day.
These are the memories I won't forget. Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world.