After 6 or 7 hours in the airport, we had an unexpected rest day, as our flight to Lukla was cancelled due to bad weather. It was interesting to hear flights called for Birgunj on the Indian border, Pokhara below the Annapurna Range, and a mysterious call to “Mountain”, which turned out to be joy rides around Everest in a light plane…
We made use of the extra time to talk, to re-organise and buy last-minute gear, to rest up and read, to wander around Thamel, and swim in the Hotel Shanker pool, a grand old palace already a 5-star hotel twenty years ago. A few people went on a cooking class, returning replete with vegetarian momos (dumplings) and tales of buying ingredients at the local market, before cooking and eating in a shady courtyard.
Temba told me about the terrible 2012 flood that researchers believe began with a massive rockfall high up near Machupuchare, the Fish Tail mountain visible on the Annapurna circuit. The fall unleashed glacial meltwater that had been held up above a small cirque. The resulting minor flood was halted a little lower by another rock barrage of glacial moraine. A second larger glacial lake formed, then a few hours or days later it too burst free and roared down the mountain side.
Gradually building up speed and power, a single rock fall thus, in time, became a massive devastating flood that raged down the Kali Gandaki, carrying massive boulders from deep within the glacier.
People lost family members, houses, entire fields with the year’s crops and animals. Bridges and paths were washed away as the torrent carved its way down the valley floor to Jomsom and Pokhara.
Temba’s own family live in Dolakha District, very close to Tsho Rolpa Lake, a rapidly growing, massive glacial melt lake at 5400m. More on this in a later blog.