Thorong La Pass | Challenges of Thorong La Pass

Thorong La Pass is one of such trendily fabulous high passes in Nepal. Nothing is as absolute as the nature herself. The vitality, glamour and richness of the nature are incomparable. We can see the same glamour and grandeur of nature in Nepal. Nepal boasts unbelievable topography, climate, biosphere, culture, traditions and so on. It is not only popular for the mountain panoramas, but also for high altitude and alpine passes.

Thorong La Pass is located at Damodar Himal. It is located towards the north of Annapurna Himal in central Nepal. The pass lies between the peaks Khatung Kang and Yakwa Kang. The pass is 5,416m high from the sea level. It is the highest point in the Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is considered to be the hardest trek in the Annapurna Region.

Thorong La Pass is often voted as one of the best trekking destinations in Nepal. Though it is challenging, it offers the most satisfying experiences for the trekkers. The pass is between two of the most important highlights of the Annapurna Region i.e. Manang Village and Muktinath Temple. The pass also stands as a transit to the world’s highest glacial lake; Tilicho (4,919m).

Thorong La Pass is also popular for its vibrant climate. One can experience sub tropical climate to high alpine climate in this trek. The pass also offers the stunning views of some of the popular peaks of the region that includes Annapurna I, Annapurna II, Annapurna IV, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhre, Manaslu, Gangapurna, Tilicho Peak etc.

Amazing Facts of Thorong La Pass

  • The elevation of Thorong La Pass is higher than of Everest Base Camp (5,380m).
  • Thorong La is the toughest and longest high pass in Nepal.
  • There is only half of the oxygen available at the sea level at the pass.
  • It is not a climbing, it is a hiking.
  • More than enough acclimatization makes it possible to cross the pass.
  • The pass is the transit point from Manang to Mustang District.
  • The pass is easier to cross from the eastern side of Manang to the west of Mustang.
  • Thorong La Pass is the evergreen travel destination in Nepal.
  • It is the highest point in the Annapurna Circuit Trek that leads you towards Muktinath

Crossing Thorong La Pass 

Thorong La Pass Trek is the most strenuous trek and it is nothing less than running a marathon. It is one of the most popular trekking ventures in Nepal. The widest, longest, and highest pass definitely offers the best mountain panoramas. The journey is strenuous just because of low level of oxygen found here. Surprisingly, there is only half of the oxygen available at sea level.

The traditional trail of the Annapurna Circuit has changed significantly over the years. Some of the parts of the trails have been replaced by the road. Even though, the last section of the trail over the pass to Muktinath temple is still the road less region. It is steep and rocky parts of the entire trek.

Thorong La Pass is the highest point on the entire Annapurna Circuit Trek. Surprisingly, the pass is higher than the Everest Base Camp. The trek between Manang and Thorong La is one of the most beautiful parts of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The trail offers the magnificent mountain panoramas of Gangapurna, Annapurna III and Chulu West. Once you get closer to the pass, you would see the most beautiful peaks named Khatung Kang and Thourungtse (6481m). From the top of the pass one can see the entire valley of the Kali Gandaki and the region of the upper Mustang.

Besisahar; the district headquarter of Lamjung District is the starting point of this trek. Some trekkers even start their trek from Syange and trek towards Manang. It’s possible to get a jeep all the way up to Manang but this shortens the trek quite a bit and does not allow for adequate time to acclimatize. Manang is the perfect place to acclimatize because it has a number of good hikes.

The trek from Manang towards the pass becomes harder and harder. The route becomes steeper and the terrain is full of rocks. The trail up to Yak Kharka offers some great views of Chulu West. Thorong Phedi is probably the best option for a night stay before crossing the pass in the morning. Trekkers prefer to stay here because it has a bit improvised lodging facilities. Moreover, it is a good idea to stay low to cope with the altitude sickness

The trail is quite steep between Thorong Phedi and Thorong High Camp. Most trekkers will start the climb up to the pass around 4am in order to avoid the gusty winds that come up later in the day. Looking back towards Manang on the way up to Thorong High, one has excellent views of Annapurna III and Gangapurna. Once you pass Thorong High Camp, a long gradual uphill hike leads you to the top. When you finally reach at the top of the pass you are rewarded with fantastic views in all directions.  You will be overwhelmed by the enchanting view of Mustang and the magnificent peaks of Dhaulagiri Massif. Then the final trek towards the sacred Muktinath temple begins. It is a gradual steep downhill trek. After reaching Chabarbu; a small village, you can hire a motorcycle to Muktinath or Jomsom. If you still want to trek, you can choose the downhill climb to the Kali Gandaki Gorge otherwise take an early morning flight to Pokhara from Jomsom. Crossing the pass in the opposite direction is not advisable since it does not give one enough time to acclimatize. However, if you have spent a couple of nights in Muktinath this might be an option.

Experience 

Crossing the Thorong La Pass is an exhilarating, epic, and ultimate trekking experience in Nepal. The peak is the most challenging peak in Nepal. It is often said that the pass is the toughest and highest pass in Nepal. It is also one of the longest treks in Nepal. However, one will definitely be overwhelmed by the incredible Thorong La pass. The epic journey is also a rare opportunity to experience the strength of your stamina. First of all, the pass is higher than EBC and secondly, there is only the half of the oxygen that is available in the sea level. Thorong La rewards us with the best views that one can’t even begin to imagine.  In spite of being difficult and high altitude pass, it is one of the most crossed passes in Nepal. During peak season, hundreds of trekkers cross this pass giving them a great sense of accomplishment. 

Thorong La, although enjoyable can also prove to be quite risky for reckless trekkers.

This falls on the trail from Manang to Muktinath. Many take the route from Manang to Muktinath because it allows them to spend a night at Yak Kharka and then at Thorong Phedi which is situated below the pass at 4540 meters. It is advisable for trekkers to spend some time around Manang to get acclimatized in order to trek through this pass to lessen the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness.  This pass has to be taken seriously because of the uphill climb to get there and the sheer altitude it is located at.  

Challenges of Thorong La Pass 

Crossing Thorong La Pass is not as easy as you have imagined. Thorong La Pass is definitely the most difficult hike because it is the longest and highest pass in Nepal. First of all it is the highest point in the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The altitude of Thorong La Pass is higher than the Everest Base Camp.

The mainstream trail to the Thorong La Pass is still remote. The trail passes through steep hill and rugged terrain. The trail is also narrow. The narrow trail upon a steep cliff gives you dizzying sensations. It also preserve some potential risks.

Another challenge that you have to counter during the hike is the fierce blow of wind during the afternoon. It is really very difficult to cross the pass due to the harsh blow of wind. Therefore, most trekkers cross the pass as early as 4:00 am.

The altitude of Thorong La Pass itself is a big challenge. Such a great height is enough to bother you with Acute Mountain Sickness/ Altitude Sickness. The region is even more prone to Altitude Sickness because the region has nearly a half of the oxygen found in the sea level.

The standard Thorong La Pass Trek covers approximately 8 to 12 hours gradual uphill hike every day. Hence, it is a difficult hike. It demands a great physical and mental stamina to overcome this tiring journey.

Another notable obstacle that can ruin your journey is recurring avalanches and blizzards. The region is also frequently affected by those natural disasters. Lately, the region has experienced a severe blizzard in 2014 which killed 12 and hundreds of trekkers are still missing. Therefore, the region is noted for having menacing environment.

The weather of the Thorong La Pass is also an obstacle to cross it. The weather is pretty unstable. You can’t even predict about it. You have to cope up with an unimagined weather pattern. Be sure that the weather will be definitely inhospitable and bother you a lot.

Noted obstacles for Thorong La Pass in Nepal:

  • Steep hills, rugged terrain and icy slopes
  • Fierce blow of wind during the afternoon
  • Less amount of oxygen, there is nearly half the level of oxygen found in the sea level
  • Vulnerable to Altitude sickness
  • Long Hours of everyday trek
  • Avalanches and blizzards are additional potential hazards
  • Unstable weather condition
  • Menacing Environment

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