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31
Mar 01
Sat

Nepal

If you haven’t heard yet, three Aussies were killed in an Avalanche in Nepal a week or so back. A large article appeared in the News Review section of today’s SMH. The trekkers were walking along a part of the Annapurna circuit on their way to the Annapurna Base Camp, as part of  acclimatisation for an Everest summit attempt (the human body must take time to adjust to differing atmospheric conditions above 3000m). The way the media initially reported the incident was, I suppose, typical sensationalism. Hiking in Nepal was made to seem somewhat perilous and authorities “justifying” the accident cited that it was a “freak event”. I trekked through the Annapurna area at the start of last month and the trails are certainly not as dangerous as the media has it. Scores of tourists hike along the tracks every day, some with small children (which although seems strange, is not unusual). Our guide for our trek had guided people as young as 7 (with their parents) to as old as 73. The recent SMH article goes back to look at the initial reports and how valid they were – as a result, its account is closer to the truth. I bought a map of the Annapurna Conservation Area in Pokhara, and the place the 3 Aussies were hiking through that fateful day is a clearly marked as an Avalanche area. Avalanches happen there with regularity – they are not freak events – especially in Spring when the snow starts to melt (even in Winter, temperatures rise to the twenties Celsius, as the sun beats strongly down on the mountains). While there is no doubt that hiking is indeed dangerous, deaths are relatively scarce given the vast amounts of tourists who hike each year. Furthermore, the Aussies were walking without a guide. Although this is done by quite a few people (we ran into a few during our trek), there is no substitute for the years of regional experience a guide will have – it literally could be lifesaving. There’s always risk in things like this, but it’s not as bad as the media makes it to be.

Sidenote: Annapurna is a region of the Himalayas a few hundred kilometers West of Kathmandu, the capital. Everest is in another region, a few hundred kilometers to the East.

  7:00pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Travel  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment