After a wild helicopter flight somewhat reminiscent of a Vietnam war film, flitting and twisting in the deep walls of the Seti Khola gorge, the team including Ed Douglas and David the cameraman have arrived at their chosen BC without any mishap. The Base Camp, in the end was the higher of the two possible choices at a height of 4600m situated at a large gassy flattening with stunning views of Annapurna 3, 4 and the sacred peak of Machhapuchher.
Pemba the Air Dynasty pilot did an amazing job ferrying 7 people and a tonne of food and equipment up to base camp which had to be done in stages, decreasing the helicopter weight as higher elevations were gained. The views from the helicopter were stunning, first passing over the fertile and lush farmland north of Pokhara, then climbing up into the deep Sehti Khola gorge where the first drop of weight was made. Weighing less, Pemba could then fly the helicopter up even higher to recce the various base camp locations that had been spotted on Google Earth and at one point took the B2 to 5400m flying close to the SE ridge of Annapurna 3 before we settled on a great base camp at 4600m. Pemba made 7 drops at the base camp from the intermediate drop zone before high tailing back to Pokhara as the cloud had started to bubble up. Over here the clouds have big rocks in them!
Pemba landing at the Annapurna 3 base camp
Going straight from 800m to 4600m is not an ideal way to acclimatize and I personally wouldn't recommend it, it hurts, but everyone is now slowly getting used to the lack of oxygen, and the suffering is good practice for the BIG suffering to come.
The next few days will be spent taking it easy and slowing learning and observing the character of the mountain to develop a cunning plan to climb Annapurna 3. In the mean time Bhudi the cook will be keeping us well fed with his fantastic food.
Machhapuchher at dawn from base camp