Depending on the weather and your arrival time at Machhapuchare Base Camp, you’ll either take a crack at Annapurna Base Camp right after you arrive (and have a bite to eat) or early the next morning to catch the sunrise.
Our group was feeling pretty energetic and arrived at MBC early, so noting the uncharacteristically clear skies we downed some ginger tea, re-laced our boots, and hit the trail.
Much of the trail between MBC and ABC is either on snow (of various depth and stability) or on supersaturated mud peppered with some of the most tenacious plant life you’ll ever see. It’s 1.8 miles between the camps (3km) and about 1,409 feet of gain (429m), but even if you’ve acclimated a bit you’re still trudging through tough terrain above 12,000 feet (3700m), so you’re probably going to be moving a little on the slow side. As you hike toward Annapurna, be sure to look back to see Machhapuchare Base Camp in the great peak’s shadow.
As the trail makes its way toward the Base Camp, more of the Annapurna Sanctuary becomes visible as you hike on or along the massive South Annapurna Glacier. Ahead, the long north-south ridge between Annapurna South and Bharha Chuli is a steep, jagged face covered with glaciers of its own. If you listen carefully, you can hear the ice falls sliding down the mountains and grinding stone in their path.
Just outside the base camp itself, you’ll pass the official welcome sign. If you picked up a set of prayer flags somewhere along the way in Nepal, tying them up somewhere near the base camp is said to be good luck. You’ll see a lot of people have already contributed theirs here, but you can also wait a bit to get to another set just past the Base Camp itself.
Looking back down toward Machhapuchare, we spotted the beginnings of the day’s Weather rushing up the canyon behind us, so we hightailed it through the base camp. Trying to stay a step or two ahead of the clouds behind us, we passed a series of modest monuments to fallen climbers, trekkers, guides, and porters made more moving by the incredible backdrop and the layers upon layers of prayer flags wrapping every single one.
It’s also a great place to look back on Annapurna Base Camp, which often has snow right up to its roofline.