Nepal is home to many glorious mountains that provides a very challenging adventure route for trekking. Every year thousands of tourists go to several trekking destinations. Among many such destinations, Annapurna Circuit Trekking is one of the popular ones. Annapurna Circuit Trekking, also known as Round Annapurna Trekking goes via Thorong La.
Thorong La, also called Thorung La is a mountain pass, and it is the highest point on the Annapurna circuit with an elevation of 5,416 meters/17,769 ft. Thorong La lies in the north of Annapurna Himal, in the Damodar Himal.
Why is Thorong La Pass famous?
You may be shocked a bit, but Thorong La’s elevation is highest than Everest Base Camp. While in your (160-230)km trek of Annapurna Circuit, Thorong La is the highest point. It is also one of the beautiful spots you will encounter during Annapurna Circuit Trek which gives the view of Annapurna III, Chulu West and Gangapurna on your way up to pass.
Crossing Thorong La Pass via Annapurna Circuit Trek
Trekkers prefer to start their trek to Annapurna Circuit from Besi Sahar (Headquarter of Lamjung), or they start from a little further in Syange. It will take around 4-5 days of trekking to reach Manang. However, you also can take a jeep all the up to Manang; it is totally up to you. In case you choose jeep as your option, there will be fairly light traffic as the roads are all rough and most trekkers prefer to walk. It will take a whole day of the ride to reach Manang from Besi Sahar.
Your trek will get on to a little rough and bit steeper route after Manang. As your trek proceeds further towards Yak Kharka, you will see some of the spectacular views of Chulu West. In case you are wondering, Chulu West is of the 33 designated trekking peaks of Nepal. Further, from Yak Kharka, you will be crossing a large suspension bridge over the Jarsang River. Then you will be continuing your trek up the steep-walled canyon, which possesses a great risk of avalanches during heavy snowfall. Now, you will arrive at Thorong Phedi, which is at an elevation of 4,540 meters (14, 895 ft).
Most of the trekkers spend the first night of their trek from Manang in Yak Kharka and the second night in Thorong Phedi or at Thorong High Camp which is a few hours walk from Thorong Phedi. Thorong High Camp is at 4,888 meters. It is safe to rest a day at least as you will be passing through Thorong La Pass the next day, which I told is at the highest point of the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The trail from Thorong Phedi to Thorong High View Camp is quite steep. Trekkers choose to climb the pass around 4 am as the wind in that area gets blustery later in the day. As your step gets closer to Thorong High View Camp, looking back towards Manang will give you a magnificent view of Gangapurna and Annapurna III.
After Thorong High View Camp, it will take a long hike to get at the top of the Thorong La Pass. You may lose your patience during that time because many times it will look like the pass is just there, but as you finally arrive there, it will be just another hill or ridge. But, your patience and effort will be paid off the moment you will arrive at the Thorong La Pass with a majestic view in every direction you look. Being at the top of the pass, the feeling will be no less than conquest in war.
After experiencing the most joyous moment, do not take the upcoming trek route lightly. From Thorong La Pass, you will be heading towards Muktinath, which about at steep descent of 1500 meters. While getting down to Muktinath, you can stay for a night in villages, which you will find on your way. However, if you are too weary; you can rent motorbikes and skip the trek to Muktinath. Muktinath is a sacred pilgrimage site for both Hindu and Buddhists at an altitude of 3,710 meters where thousands of devotees of both religions pay a visit. It is also said that the holy water of Muktinath can cure any sickness. After all your effort to make up to that point, it will certainly worth paying to visit Muktinath.
From Muktinath, you can make it to Jomsom by regular buses and jeep. Then after Jomsom, you can take a flight to Pokhara. But, there is another option too, which I guess, you will prefer. You can continue your trekking from Muktinath to Kali Gandaki valley. In your trek to Kali Gandaki, you will pass by several settlements like Khingar and Jharkot, where you can witness the typical Tibetan architecture. You will also see splendid views of Mount Nilgiri and Mount Dhaulagiri. Then you will be walking through the apple orchards before reaching Marpha. Finally, you arrive at the endpoint Jomsom, from where you will be heading towards Pokhara and then to Kathmandu.
Which month will be safe to trek to Thorong La Pass?
March-April and October-November are the safest months to cross the Thorong La Pass. It will be extremely dangerous to make any attempt to cross the pass at other times of year because there is a high risk of frostbite, avalanches, and possibility of whiteout or a storm. In the condition of whiteout or storm, trekkers can lose their way. That’s why trekkers from Thorong Pedi/Thorong High Camp start their trek few hours before sunrise to avoid the heavy wind that follows after sunrise.
Equipment List for Thorong La Pass Trek
You need to prepare yourself in the best way, who knows what comes next. It is good to rely on your group, but sometimes we are on our own. So here is the full list of equipment you must carry during the Throng La Pass Trek, which are necessary for the whole Annapurna Circuit Trek too.
- Lightweight hiking boot, rubber shoes/sandals, and hiking socks – You need those boots while on a hike and rubber shoe/sandals for the toilet, showers, walk and other activities.
- Lightweight long sleeve trekking shirts, cotton t-shirt, and combat trekking pant – Lightweight materials are the comfortable ones and easy to wash.
- Woolen and peaked hats – You may need both kinds of hats for protection from the sun as well as wind.
- Underwear – Pack at 4 -5 cotton as well as polyester underwears.
- Windproof jacket and rain jacket – Carry at least one of both. You will need a windproof jacket in morning and night and rain jacket for unexpected rain.
- Gloves, sunglass, and towels – Make sure the gloves are windproof, sunglasses are UV ray protecting and towels can be dry quickly.
- Karabiner and bungee cords – Karabiners are to hold small things together and bungee cords to dry clothes and wrap them.
- First Aid kit – Keep bites/burn cream, bandages, paracetamol, antiseptic cream, and medicines.
- Other necessities are toiletries, water bottle, tissue paper, water purifying drops or tablet, plastic bag for dirty clothes, dry bags for washed clothes, torch with spare batteries, sleeping bag, a small knife, chapstick, sun cream, socket adapter, trekking poles, padlocks and other items as you think will be needed.
Altitude Sickness and Medical Help
Acclimatization is very important while climbing the high altitude mountain. Annapurna Circuit Trek is one of the popular treks in Nepal, and it also holds the highest point than Everest Base Camp, which you probably know by now, Thorong La Pass. The more altitude you reach, the more dangerous it becomes. Your age and fitness level may define the pace of your trek but once you reach at an elevation of 3,500 meters, you have to be cautious not to climb more than 300-400 meter a day and keep on going less than previous day as you will be walking towards the highest point otherwise you can suffer from altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness is caused by the effect of high altitude, rapid exposure to the low amount of oxygen at high elevation. Usually, altitude sickness occurs above 2,500 meters. Vomiting, headache, trouble in sleeping, dizziness, and tiredness are the symptoms. However, the sickness can become extreme with shortness of breath, nausea, lethargy, and disorientation. You have to move the casualty to lower altitude immediately. You can find a medical clinic operated by the Himalayan Rescue Association in Manage, and at Thorong Phedi, there is a small satellite medical clinic.
Places to acclimatize during Thorong La Pass Trek
Either you arrive at Manang by jeep or trekking, you should acclimatize in Manang for a few days. Your stay in Manang will be a total worth, as Manang is a very beautiful place. Manang lies at an elevation of 3,519 meters and it your last place for shopping before heading for the big trek, where you can buy all the necessities like food, gears, medicine and all.
Most trekkers acclimatize in Thorong Phedi or Thorong High Camp before heading the Thorong La Pass. It will be safe to acclimatize at either place as directly heading to such a highest point might increase the risk of altitude sickness in trekkers.