April 17: to Luza

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We woke up to about 12" of fresh snow, and it continued to snow hard most of the day. We ate breakfast in one of the local lodges while the gear was getting packed up, and got underway at a brisk pace, hoping to make it down the steep section of the trail before snow accumulations made the going any more hazardous.

The pictures from this day are pretty scarce. No one was very interested in getting out cameras, since the snow was blowing horizontally, and it was hard to see the trail. John was having trouble with his glasses icing up, so I walked in front of him, alerting him to hazards along the way.

We made it down the canyon from Gokyo and stopped at Machermo for lunch. I was in Machermo in 1990, and didn’t see anything because of a snowstorm on that trip, and this day the conditions were essentially the same.

At lunch, we discussed our options and decided to try to make it to Dole for the night, which is normally another hour’s worth of hiking in good weather. We broke trail in thigh deep snow heading out from Machermo, and had trouble following the trail. It was slow going, with Lakhpa and Ching in the front discussing the route. There was a Dutch group that was also trying to get out of the valley, and there was much shouting back and forth among the Sherpas in the two groups, discussing the proper route. We ended up splitting off from the route they were taking and found the right trail at last.

At mid-afternoon we arrived at Luza, a collection of three or four houses still at some distance from Dole. We took refuge in one of the two lodges and decided that this was far enough for one day. We dried out our wet gear near the stove, played hearts to pass the time, and hoped that the next day would bring better weather.

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