April 19: Phortse Tenga to Mong

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Let’s see, we’re up to April 19, right? I am writing this on July 23, and we had a record high temperature day today in Eugene, something like 104 degrees, so it is refreshing — and somewhat surreal — to be writing about snow in the Himalayas.

Anyway. . . at Phortse Tenga, we awoke to partially clear skies and no wind. The trails around the lodge were still slick with packed snow, but with the prospect of the intense sunshine to melt them, we headed out for Namche Bazar in high spirits.

On the way we had to cross our last high ridge at Mong, 13,000 ft. From there it would be essentially all downhill the rest of the trip. The trail up to Mong was a series of switchbacks, with snowy views of the town of Phortse, seeming to hang on a ledge on the opposite side of the valley from our climb.

As we hiked this day, the topic of conversation was most often about the Pumori team, and how they were affected by all this snow. Were they at a high camp when it hit?  Were they stuck someplace waiting out avalanche conditions before they could move up or down? Would there be too much snow for them to continue? We figured that there was not much chance we would hear any news before the end of our trip, but we wondered and speculated.

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