The purpose of this blog is to relate my travels in Nepal in January-February 2013, and secondarily to take the opportunity to expose the claims of “wicking” socks and underwear as bogus corporate hype, and air some of my other favorite rants: tourists ill-equipped to hike over Thorung-La in the winter, tourists hiring inexperienced guides on the cheap for severe conditions, the improper use of hiking poles.

My choice for a trek was Nepal, not so much for the well known stunning scenery, but because it is possible to walk long distances, for weeks or months at a time, without having to carry food or shelter on my back, staying in a hotel or private home every night and buying food along the way. The trek around Annapurna is one of the most popular in the world, and is recommended for the variety of climates, topography, cultures, and wildlife. January might not be the ideal time, but it is when I can get time off from work.

Thorung-La has a particular attraction for people who wouldn’t otherwise consider hiking up to 17,700 feet of elevation in winter without insulated boots or sufficient warm clothes: If one wants to circumambulate Annurnapurna, there is no alternate route at lower elevation. All the rest of the Annapurna circuit, two or three weeks of hiking, is at much lower elevation, so the temptation is to leave behind bulky apparel that would possibly only be used for one day. If one has spent a week or more hiking up the Marshyangdi river to Manang, backtracking is not an easily accepted option.

As it turned out, we ended up breaking trail over Thorung-La through snowdrifts over three feet deep only three days after the first major snowfall of the year. Since this was the “exciting part”, and readers may not want to read the entire journal, I’ll add direct links:

Of course I realize that for real mountaineers, merely getting cold feet etc is nothing out of the ordinary.