The ascent from Phedi to Dhampus is a two-hour slog up stone staircases winding their way through the lush overgrown forest of the Himalayan foothills. Upon attaining the ridgeline along which the village’s little stone cottages are spread, a magnificent panorama opens up in the fading afternoon sunlight. The entire Annapurna Massif is laid out, from left to right some of the most magnificent peaks in the world. From Annapurna South and Annapurna I in the west, crowned by the dramatic Macchapuchare in the centre, and around to the enourmous Annapurnas II and IV in the east, the view is simply staggering.
Pemba, our Sherpa, booked us in at a sweet little guesthouse atop the ridge, where the views remained staggering. This was only our first evening on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek, and it was already delivering the goods in spectacular fashion. The accomodation was rustic- wooden beds and thin mats in what felt like a converted stone barn, accessible by a ricketty wooden ladder slippery with years of tred and woodsmoke.
I got up early the next morning with Lydz and Laura to watch the sunrise. Our vantage looked over the east-facing flanks of the mountains, so as the sun slowly slipped above the distant horizon, they were washed in fresh sunlight, the low angles emphasising the details in the relief. We were standing four and five thousand metres lower than the peaks at which we stared, and the sunlight kissed their tips while our stretch of hillside was still very much swathed in shadow. The air was very still, and hanging with the smoke from early morning fires.
Macchapuchare, or Fishtail Mountain, is known as the Matterhorn of the Himalayas for its distinctive shape and prominence. It is an awe-inspiring peak, and as the sun rose, the light seemed to finger every little crevice and feature on its jagged face. After a little while, the light reached us as well, and a bush exploding with pink flowers in front of me was suddenly bathed in soft light. I balanced a shot with the flowers framing the mountain peak in the background- the sun-splashed petals, the shining peak and the blue sky contrasting with that deep shadows of the valley. The memory of that morning holds a place as one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever witnessed, in one of the world’s most moving settings. The itself photo sits for me as one of the top two or three I’ve ever taken, and I hope you enjoy it as well.