By Rup Narayan Dhakal : Myagdi—French mountaineer Maurice Herzog first scaled Annapurna I (8091m) on June 3, 1950. It was a first human step in the mountain over eight thousand meter. So, the Annapurna I is also known as the eldest mountain in the world as the highest Mt. Everest was scaled three year later of Annapurna summit.
It has been nearly 7-decade but the route that Herzog walked to reach the North Annapurna Base Camp before his expedition in Annapurna I, is still in shadow. So, the Annapurna Rural Municipality (ARM) of Nepal’s Myagdi district recently took an initiation to promote that route for the domestic and international trekkers. Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) and Nepal Tourism Board had collectively supported the promotion that was mainly based on camping trek.
At this point, the ARM tried to follow the Herzog’s 69 year old footsteps in that deadly trekking route to the North Annapurna Base Camp (4190m) where the beautiful Narchyang Lake could be seen in frozen state due to temperature decline in the morning. The promotion journey began from the Myagdi’s Narchyang village that situates along the Beni-Jomsom road.
A total of 16-member promotion group including supporters and TAAN experts reached Chhotepa crossing the Lakegaun and lush green forest in the first day. Then, Humkhola and near Phutphute water fall saw the 2nd and third night camping respectively. The group had fourth camping in the North ABC. The team then had very tough one-day walk two reach back to Chhotepa and then Narchyang.
Annapurna Rural Munipality Chairman Dam Bahadur Pun said that the promotion campaign was carried out to bring the North Annapurna Base Camp and trekking route in limelight. According to chairman Gurung, as the route gains popularity, local people start to engage in tourism activities and hospitality business to earn more money to make their living easier.
Before that, the widening and maintenance of trekking route, map and brochure printing, sign posting in the confusing points and establishing of tea houses along the week-long route are some of the plans that rural municipality is thinking of. But these days, mountaineers use helicopters to reach the base camp for climbing purpose as the trekking route is not cleared and well managed.
According to promotion group Coordinator and TAAN Western Regional Association Pokhara former executive member Ram Chandra Adhikari, the route can gain popularity among the trekkers especially French if the Herzog factor is stressed on while on the promotion. ‘At the same time, the base camp’s Narchyang Lake could be famous from religious point of view which is also a salable factor’, Adhikari, who is also a Managing Director of Essence Treks and Expedition Pvt Ltd, added.
Annapurna Conservation Management Committee Narchyang Chairman Tej Gurung said that the the north base camp is the real Base Camp of Annapurna I. He expressed his dissatisfaction over the media reports that they only focused on south ABC for years which is popular among the trekkers for decades. He also claimed that the Annapurna I falls in Myagdi district instead of Kaski. ARM ward 4 chairman Chandra Prasad Phagami sought the government supports to make the north base camp route safe and popular.
ACAP, villagers and government together had opened general track to the North ABC some 12 years ago. Now the development of infrastructures in and along the trial is priority. Rivers, green forests, mountain vegetation, wild lives, dozens of snow-capped peaks, Phutphute water fall, caves and beautiful Narchyang Lake are some of the attractions of that route, informed a local youth Suren Gurung, who has visited the NABC recently.