Quite frankly, neither the way up to, nor the pass itself are particularly beautiful. In good weather conditions, the crossing is straight-forward and uncomplicated. However, large amounts of snow may pose difficulties and a snowstorm on the top may contribute to a disaster as seen in October 2014.
After the 2014 tragedy, it seems people pay even more attention to crossing the pass early in the day, and most sleep at the Thorung High View Camp (4850m), 1,5 hours above the Thorung Pedi Lodge (4540m). Furthermore as many leave as early as 4 am, I was alone on the trail all the way to the pass when I left at a the (to me) more reasonable time 6 am from Thorung Pedi Lodge. I arrived at the teashop on the pass right before midday in time for lunch.
Having spent already a week around Manang including hikes to the Ice Lake and Tilicho Lake, I did not have any altitude-related issues , though I did walk rather slowly, carrying my own backpack as well. The descent into Muktinath is long, but uncomplicated and I noticed a couple of new bright blue emergency shelters, built after the 2015 snowstorm to prevent people from getting lost in bad weather conditions. I checked into the Muktinath temple at 3 pm, on what turned out to be a major Hindu festival day.
Perched on an almost vertical mountain side 400 meters above Manang at 2945, a female Monk lives at the Praken Gompa in solitude, only interrupted by a once-weekly climb down to Manang to buy supplies. Is has been customary for travelers on the Annapurna Circuit to hike up there and donate around 100 rupees in return for a blessing. However, as the female monk explained to me, 100 rupees is next to nothing these days, and times are hard, so she thought 500 rupees (around one dollar) a more appropriate donation.
The woman explained that she had been living in this mountain dwelling for 40 years together with her father, Lama Tashi, the original “100 rupee monk”, now is apparently in his 90s and in Kathmandu.
Poon Hill, is a famous viewpoint in the Himalayas, and one of the only places on the Annapurna Circuit where Annapurna I (8091m – 10th highest mountain in the world) may be seen, as well as Dhaulagiri.
A modest entry fee to the Poon Hill, a 50 minute uphill walk from Ghorepan, is requested in early morning. In usual Nepali style a teashop may be found at the top.
Technically straightforward, the path to Tilicho Lake is nevertheless more demanding than the rest of the Annapurna Circuit. It is also quite popular, and when I arrived from Manang at 2 pm the Tilicho Base Camp Hotel was full (a new hotel is under construction nearby). In that case people are offered to sleep in the dining room, as is common in the high-mountain tea houses with no alternative accommodation.
Tilicho Lake Trek two-day itinerary as walked in October 2015:
Day 1: Manang-Tilicho Base Camp Hotel (4200m) Day 2: Tilicho Base Camp Hotel- Tilicho Lake (4920 m)-Tilicho Base Camp Hotel (lunch)-Blue Sheep Lodge, Shree Karhka (app. 4000) Day 3: Shree Karkha-Letdar- the Annapurna Circuit
I did not find the route genuinely exposed: Though the scree-slopes look exposed from afar, and very steep looking down on them, I think that one could quite easily auto-arrest on the slope in the unlucky (and quite unlikely) event should one fall from the trail. I even met, and crossed a couple of yaks on one of the scree slopes (I took a step up on the scree slope and let the yaks pass on the trail).
However, those with fear of heights may have issues, and I saw a (very fit by the way) couple turn around.