As most experienced climbers know and non-climbers fail to consider, once you’ve reached a summit you’re only half way through your journey. The hardest part of the climb is getting down safely. For us, that meant a climb down of over 5,000 feet to the village of Mukineth. Down climbing is always dangerous because you’re tired and not as sharp mentally as on the ascent. The terrain on the down slope was very steep, often 40 to 50 degrees. We found the easiest way to cover ground was to glissade or slide down snow channels on our bottoms using our trekking poles as breaks. Even using this technique it took nearly four and a half hours to get to Mukineth. All eight of us made it, safe but tired.
One last memorable day I’d like to relay was the hike from Pisang to Manang, which followed the northern flank of the Annapurna. After climbing out of a valley where we had eaten lunch, we were treated to a close up and extended view of the Annapurna Himal including AIII and AIV and Gangapurna–all 7500+ meters (25,000 feet) peaks. Their north face seem to come right down to the trail and with the sun shining brightly every hanging glacier and main ridge line was clearly articulated. All I could do this day was walk alone in silence for I was totally awe struck by the beauty, massiveness and overwhelming domination of these giants. These were the mountains I’d come to see and they couldn’t have been more glorious, more inspiring or more emotionally impacting. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Step, look! Step, look! Step, look!
MY DREAM HAD COME TRUE.