We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. Click here to find out more. Allow cookies

arrow Register here

Forgotten password?


Day 53: to Annapurna Base Camp

Michael Palin - HimalayaI wake up, wrenched from sleep by some chest-wracking cough, and am seized by near panic. Everything is pitch black, silent and cold as ice. I have no sensation of where I am. Perhaps Nawang and Wongchu have found me a flotation tank. I scrabble around for my head-torch, sending a bottle of pills clattering across the hard stone floor. For a few minutes I simply lie there, staring up at a circle of slatted, paint peeling board above me and waiting for my heart to slow down.

All sorts of things go through my mind. The one thing I can't dismiss is that I might have to think the unthinkable. That, for the first time in any of my journeys, I may have to face the possibility of failure. I'm sixty, after all, and there has to be a point at which the body puts its foot down, as it were.

For a depressing hour or so I can't escape this profound feeling of being defeated, physically and mentally, by the Himalaya.

When I next wake, though there is absolutely no physical sign of time passing, I know, even before I search for my torch, that I've been out for a while. And in that time some sea change has taken place. I'm no longer hot and feverish, and the sense of survival seems stronger than the sense of doom.
Choose another day from Himalaya


  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 53: to Annapurna Base Camp
  • Country/sea: Nepal
  • Place: Macchapucchre Base Camp
  • Book page no: 122

Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.


  • Health and Hygiene
  • Day 12 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 27 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 2 
  • Pole to Pole