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18 January 2013

It was snowing fine flakes, with three inches on the ground, when we woke up. Visibility was about a mile. While it would have been helpful to take a day hike to acclimatize, I wasn’t that unhappy to be snowbound. Pasang’s itinerary called for staying an extra day in Manang to acclimatize anyway.

The water in my toilet, which had been a slow trickle, stopped.

Three guys showed up late. They had walked through the snow from Upper Pisang. Tim from the Netherlands, Johanne from Austria, and “Ed” (Eduardo?) from Chile. The three of them had gotten together through a web site. They spent hours trying to dry their boots by the stove. With the Korean family, the two Korean girls, the guides and porters, it made a crowd around the stove. Kathy was reading a translation of The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. She motioned for Lal to sit by her, to have a photo taken. They were leaving in the morning. She invited Lal to come to Korea; she would personally take him on a cultural tour.

As I drifted off to sleep there was a flash of light from outside the window. At first I thought it was a phenomenon of the local electrical system, but a few seconds later I heard thunder.

19 January 2013 Saturday 10:08 AM Tilicho Hotel, Manang 3540 meters

I awoke to a clear view of some glowing clouds out my window. The snowing had stopped, about 12-18 inches fell. Before breakfast I put on my goretex overpants and ventured out through town in the direction of Thorung La. People were shoveling snow off their roofs; where the street got narrow I had to watch out. One guy smoking a cigarette asked if I was alone; he admired my pants and wanted to buy them.

When I returned to the hotel the owner and Lal were shoveling the front walk. The snowshovels look like big wooden paddles. I walked to the other end of town with Lal and came back.

I had the English Breakfast, which comes with Seabuckthorn juice, which is made locally from a berry. The baked beans are from a can.

The two Korean girls and the Korean family went back down this morning.

Tim came down for breakfast at 10:30. He is studying computer science at the free university in Amsterdam. The heavy tome he took with him trekking is Godel Escher Bach. He ordered breakfast. The stove was not lit.

I am encouraged that the snow has stopped. It is overcast but clear. Perhaps the trail will be packed down enough by tomorrow to continue to Yak Kharka 4018.

The owner and sons are shoveling snow into the courtyard. When that is done they will have to get it out of the courtyard; he thinks it will take a week. Lal has been helping.

2:15 The stove was lit finally about an hour ago. A medium size log was put in along with yak dung, pine cones, wood scraps, and kerosene. The three guys are reading and drying their clothes. I am drying a pair of gloves that got wet from perspiration.

The owner has a pair of pants made of yak wool. In the belt area they are reinforced with camouflage material. They cost 3000 rupees.

7:15 A few more people have arrived. A few hours ago a couple from New York; they might be just friends. Ed was born in Brazil, M___ from Lithuania. They came from Yak Kharka, having been turned back by deep snow from their attempt to do the pass. M has trekked around the world, and after pulling up a chair to the stove, talked and talked about it. She had a completely miserable experience in Bolivia when she paid $125 to climb a 6000 meter peak, more miserable than what they just did today. There was a day of training learning to self arrest etc. They started climbing at 11 PM to avoid avalanches. She can’t remember the last hour. At the top there was no space to stand; they had to dig their crampons into the side of the slope. Her arm hurt from planting the ice ax. She has also done the K2 base camp trek. The cooks brought live goats to use for food. At Concordia where there is a confluence of glaciers you can get lost in the mountains of ice.

Now they have a time constraint and can’t wait for the pass to clear. Ed left Brazil as a child. He visited Brazil recently and couldn’t wait to get back to New York. His boots were wet on the inside. M comes from a snowy country, and knew to stuff newspapers inside the boots. Ed’s feet had been so cold he couldn’t feel his toes

About an hour ago Matt from London arrived with a guide. Strangely he mistook my accent for Scotch. They had broken trail from Pisang. It took them much longer than usual for the snow. He will take a day off tomorrow. He offered me some of his single malt Scotch, which he regrets bringing because of the weight. I think one glass of Manang coffee was enough for me. He is sick with the runs. I started to look the info in the Mountaineers’ book, whether a parasite or microbe, but he became distracted with something else. Also another friend of both Matt and the three guys, who already know each other, got the runs or something and couldn’t continue

Then a tall guy with dark wavy hair arrived. I think he is French Swiss. I haven’t spoken to him. Around the same time an Asian guy, maybe another Korean, arrived. He is wearing a black bucket hat over a black muffler hat and black down jacket. I haven’t heard him speak much.

I hope I don’t get the runs. The sandwich I just ate had cabbage on it; I am not sure if that is bad.

8:30 I’m in my room now. It is interesting how sometimes when I sit down to write I leave out the most interesting thing someone has said, and only remember it later. Matt said when he is with a Nepali guide he starts to crave the company of western people. You get past the conversation about whether you are married or not, and then there is nothing to say. When I heard him talking with his guide about whether to hike tomorrow, there seemed to be a disconnect. I don’t have that experience.

I had weird dreams that night. Someone was warning me not to shake the hand of a certain person, but I didn’t recognize the name. Then it was about it’s not funny anymore; there was the profile of a man, and I woke up. When I woke up I was worrying about whether Lal has enough warm clothes, including dry socks, to go over Thorung La. His pack is light. I also was worrying whether we will be able to dry our boots at our next destination, Yak Kharka. If not, we may have to wait another day until the snow on the trail gets more packed down.

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