British and French Are All Over the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal
“Here come the British.” That, of course, has been a battle cry of Americans since the days of Paul Revere. However, in the case of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, it has an entirely positive ring. In fact, the girl (Martha) on the cover of my recently released narrative, The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, was a lone British trekker that I met along the way. That, folks, takes a bit of guts, as women rights are not as well developed in poor Asian countries such as Nepal.
Actually, all one has to do is take a cursory look at trekking in the Himalayas and it explains much. The first ten expedition attempts up Mount Everest were British sponsored parties. And given the farflung character of the British empire, it is certainly no surprise that the people have acquired nomadic instincts.
The French also have a glorious history in the Himalayas. In 1951, Maurice Herzog and Paul Lachenal became the first people to ever summit Annapurna I. To this day, 38% of the people who have ever attempted it have died. Herzog later went on to write a gripping narrative of the journey, Annapurna, that sold several million copies and that many consider the greatest outdoor narrative ever.
Now let me please say, the Annapurna Circuit is nowhere near as difficult as expeditions up Mount Everest or Annapurna I. It is a hike, whereas the others are climbs. The brilliance of the Annapurna Circuit lies in its design. It allows the average person (such as myself) to get way, way up into the Himalayas (at one point you are directly staring at four of the world’s 16 highest mountains) without having to do technical climbing or severely risk their lives. Having said that, it is an inherently difficult journey given that it climbs to 17,768 feet. That is much higher than the average mortal will ever go.
And good for the British and French trekkers who undertake this journey!
Bill Walker is the author of Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, and The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago.