February 16, 2020 08:20 AM NPT
By: Muna Sunuwar
KATHMANDU, Feb 16: Trekkers have started trickling back to the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) route almost a month after seven trekkers went missing in an avalanche that struck the region.
Eight trekkers have entered the ABC region and on Friday five more reached Chumrung checkpost on their way to the ABC, according to Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).
“Trek entrepreneurs said they have reopened their businesses, and this means the trekking route is open again,” said Hari Bhujel, president of TAAN Pokhara Chapter. “The snow has hardened, making it easier to walk the ground,” he said.
However, the route is still deemed dangerous and trekking agencies have advised trekkers to go through authorized agencies only in order to minimize the risks. TAAN also has asked trekkers to stay on the alert while heading for Machhapuchhre Base Camp. Citing predictions of changing weather on February 17 with chances of snow on February 21 and 22, TAAN has cautioned trekkers to be careful and to remain in constant contact with their trekking teams.
March-April is considered the second season for trekking, with October-November the main season. According to Bhujel, an average of 70,000 trekkers a year arrive at the check post located at Nayapul. “Not all of them necessarily trek to ABC, with some stopping at Ghandruk and others turning to other destinations,” he told Republica.
Following a huge avalanche on January 17 in Annapurna Rural Municipality of Kaski district, the trekking route had not been in use. Snow had piled up. Seven trekkers, four South Koreans and three Nepalis, went missing and have not been found yet. The government sent a rescue team but failed to carry out searches because of heavy snowfall. “The snow is as high as 10-12 meters and any rescue is impossible until the snow melts,” Bhujel said.