Annapurna - Stair Way To Heaven

These mountain peaks are not the place to satisfy the passion of conquest, but the sanctuary for us to perform our own religious rituals.

Stopping to take a deep breath, I cleaned off the snowflakes to read the rusty words written on the bronze plaque at the memorial stupa built for Ian Clough Memorial / Cesar Payre Bell Shrine right in the heart of the Base Camp. Wondering if trekkers who are drinking hot milk tea while gazing their eyes upon the 8,000 peak think about their next dream of conquering the peaks - have they read these lines? But I believe inside Chris Bonington's mind - the first man ever submit Annapurna from the southern route was very poignant when he built the memorial stupa for his friend here. 

Memorial stupa in central of Base Camp - Photo by Pham Cuong

Memorial stupa in central of Base Camp - Photo by Pham Cuong

Chris Bonington, who was knighted and kept the record for being the eldest ever climbed Mount Everest when he was 50 years old, together with friends who conquered Annapurna, after that he left a friend as well as the inspiration for the print of Annapurna South Face published in 1971. Before Everest became famous, Annapurna South route was the largest and hardest climbing mountain of the Himalayas in the 1950s.

To the left is the south face of Annapurna I, it's view from 4,000 elevation not that dangerous look - Photo by Pham Cuong

To the left is the south face of Annapurna I, it's view from 4,000 elevation not that dangerous look - Photo by Pham Cuong

Not the right place for a competition, but why a sanctuary? I was curious to ask BJ because on the way to Annapurna Sanctuary, we were surprised that all the stopping place serve only vegetarian and meat free. The nice guide with a warm smile explained to me that the Annapurna Sanctuary was a sacred area that had only been open to tourists since the 1970s and for them the gods are reigning on top of the mountain would be angered and would cause disaster if animal were killed in this sacred mountain. In the Sanskrit word Annapurna means "full of food," the gods here are the gods who govern the crops and bring the warmth season to the villagers.

Annapurna Panorama

So, went up to the base camp, surrounded by mountain from all side in the valley of the gods. People with their inherent curiosity always want to challenge their limits, At the height of more than 4,000 meters, it made me slightly breathless when I walked fast or got up to sit down - For the Nepalese people it is just "hill", they name peaks if it over 5,000-6,000m and the term 8,000 Always an obsession with the explorers.

Above is cloud, under is snow inside the valley of Gods

Above is cloud, under is snow inside the valley of Gods

Annapurna was the first 8,000 m peak that human conquered. Three years later, the Everest. However, when I mentioned Everest, I received the indifference of everyone.

Set your foot on the heart of Annapurna Base Camp
Why? Everest is taller but easier and more conquered, and Annapurna, 10 people go, 3 people stay for serving the gods.

With mountain climber want to attempt the summit, Annapurna is one of the most dangerous mountain peaks in the world, until 1911 only 191 times to reach the summit. However, there are 61 cases of fatalities, the rate of 32% is the highest date rat among peaks is over 8000 m. That's about submitting this peaks, for trekkers is not safe in 2014, only in a snowstorm here took 43 lives and is the most treacherous trekking accident in Nepal

White clouds surrounding

White clouds surrounding

Stepping back slowly to the room with a thin wall that was only 60 centimeters, covered myself inside sleeping bag but were still crazy cold, I realized my own limitation and thanked the Spirit who sheltered us under the snowstorm all the way from The Machhapuchhare base camp we make our way straight to Annapurna Base Camp.

On the way to ABC

In the cold shivering, cold rain fell in the face and the four sides were only white clouds, only Tu, Ha and me are going forward and sing along the song "Way to Glory" to reassure ourself and move on. Fortunately, after nearly 3 hours walking under rain and snow, we finally saw the blue spots of the base camp lodges in the distance

Annapurna Base Camp

I find myself standing here feeling that peope are so small in front of nature, and yes, everyday thoughts compared with the openness of this place here is also trivial. "God," "Sanctuary," "Pilgrimage," words that keep repeating and naturally the guitar sound of Jimmy Page in one the best all-time rock music suddenly appeared in my dream. Stairway to Heaven, yes, this is the staircase to go to heaven if you want to.

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
— Led Zeppelin - Stair Way To Heaven
On the way

After a blizzard night, Annapurna say to us a warm hello with a pure white sun in the bright sunshine. Breathe in the chest with fresh air without a trace of dust, close your eyes so that every sunshine just passes the top of the sacred Machapuchare to make it's way to here. No one is allowed to climb up to warm your body, I suddenly find myself lighter and as ready to fly in the air.

 

Annapurna Base Camp Panorama - Look back to the sacred machapuchhare

Annapurna Base Camp Panorama - Look back to the sacred machapuchhare

I have come to the foot of the stair way to heaven, I have met the mountains of the gods, I have learned my limits. My pride is not the pictures, but the feeling of a new "religious" experience.

See you again Annapurna, I am sure to go back to this sanctuary for my next pilgrimate
See you again, Annapurna

See you again, Annapurna

 

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