What went wrong at the Annapurna Circuit?, and A Fellow Trekker who saved lives of 70 Others

One News made the headline all around the world last tuesday; the tragedy that occurred at the Thorong La Pass section of Annapurna circuit where many lost their lives on the trail while trying to escape the snowstorm and heavy blizzard.

Here are some insights on the event which shook the world.

What went wrong at the Annapurna Circuit?

A major snowstorm hit the northwestern region of Nepal last Tuesday, Oct 14, entrapping 100s of trekkers while killing dozens. The cause of the massive snowstorm is the Cyclone Hudhud which originated from North Indian Ocean and passed northeastward crossing Nepal.

Kathmandu, the capital city, saw a heavy downpour for two consecutive days, while a storm breakout in the higher altitudes.

Thorong La Pass

Thorong La Pass

The lack of communication between outdoor agencies, monitoring body and trekkers on the go caused a major havoc at the time when they needed to escape the danger zone. The depleting level of oxygen at such sheer height and the growing snowstorm paused hundreds of trekkers on their way to Muktinath valley and seek temporary shelter in any available shack they could find. Many who foresaw the event and climbed down the pass before the storm hit survived, those who delayed got engulfed in the storm and were killed, and those who stayed back and took refuge in the tea houses got stranded, later to be rescued by the paramilitary.

Although trekking the Annapurna Circuit to cross the Thorung La Pass may not be as grueling an adventure as climbing Everest, it is certainly not easy and without risks.

~The Washington Post

The storm managed to take the lives of 32 innocent souls while stranding hundred others. The paramilitary is still on the search for trekkers missing on the trail, while many of those who were rescued were airlifted to nearest hospital for immediate medical support.

October is the busiest time of the year in Nepal for outdoor agencies and incoming tourists who spread in different parts of the nation to quench their thirst for adventure. Many of such trekkers melt into the popular trails, namely; Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Base Camp and Everest Base Camp. Aided by experienced guides/porters along the trail, trekkers are assured to complete their trip with no hassles possible. Thousands poured into the 3 weeks long trek of the Annapurna circuit but they didn’t knew what was waiting for them at Thorong La Pass 5,416 m (17,769 ft).

The ascent/descent of one of the highest pass always comes with at a higher price. You must be well equipped to scale the rough terrain of  the valley and complete your day’s itinerary on the scheduled time or face consequences. Climbing down the Thorong La Pass is difficult and hard, while the storm made it even worse. Those who died were caught in the snowstorm while trying to descend.

A Fellow Trekker who saved lives of the 70 Trekkers

Pascal, a French Trekker

Pascal, a French Trekker who saved 70 lives on Annapurna Circuit

A French trekker, Pascal, managed to save lives of 70 fellow trekkers by evacuating the danger zone before the storm could hit the region. Out of fear and concern, Pascal urged fellow trekkers to pack their bags immediately and descend down to Muktinath valley. Moments later, he came to know that Thorong la Pass was hit hard by the storm and many lost their lives.

Pascal citing to Annapurna Post, a local news daily, said;

The snowstorm has begun, we must descend the valley if we must save out lives.

Is it Safe to Trek Annapurna Circuit following the Event?

Indeed. The storm has already passed. The forthcoming treks on the region is on the schedule and trekkers are leaving for their favorite destination. The Nepal Government has decided to setup a weather warning system in the region which will help trekkers to decide before undertaking any trek.

The outdoor agencies are undertaking responsibility to make the trail as safer as possible and provide immediate assistance whenever needed. The autumn window for trekking will close soon.

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One thought on “What went wrong at the Annapurna Circuit?, and A Fellow Trekker who saved lives of 70 Others

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