Just a short note here to say all is well. We had a beautiful walk
yesterday up the valley toward Machhapuchhre Base Camp which is almost
12,000ft. We are now deep in the Annapurna Sanctuary. Great views of the
mountain itself along the way (it translates loosely as ‘Fish Tail’
mountain and it has a nice double peak). We passed too many waterfalls
to count, most dropping hundreds if not thousands of feet. I wish I
could attach some pics but my sat phone is not up to the task. Very
green and nice sunshine compared to the pouring rain we experienced
trekking up this same valley with last year’s group.

The base camp is really just a few lodges, the mountain is considered
sacred and climbing is not allowed on it. When we arrived yesterday
afternoon we could see the base of Annapurna South but the top was
obscured in clouds.

Everyone got up early this morning and hit the trail heading to
Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) which is roughly an hour and a half hike up
and close to 13,500ft. Annapurna South was ‘out’ and stunning. One
student started having some mild altitude sickness shortly after
starting and I came back down to the lodge with her and organized gear
on the patio of the lodge while checking in on her status (which
improved over the course of the day) and watching clouds drift across
the surrounding peaks and valleys. I also had some fun practicing my map
and compass skills by taking bearings and triangulating to figure out my
location. Skills I’ve been taught a few times but find myself forgetting
quickly unless I practice. The rest of the group came back down
mid-afternoon in pouring rain but reported having some great 360 views.
A few students (and 2 guides) took a side trail up to a little over 15k
so they could climb higher than Rainier. Some played volleyball!

So tomorrow we descend but will still be relatively high in the
mountains for at least 5 more days. I may try to do a quick run up to
ABC in the early AM if the mountain is not socked in…. We’ll see. Last
year we had no views at ABC and I only have vague memories of the views
when I visited ABC ~17 years ago after graduating from college. Wow! Has
it been that long? Strange too think I was almost their age.

About 7 more days or so on the trail with students and then a few in
Kathmandu before the class is over. Everyone seems to be having fun, is
healthy, and getting along together. GPS locations with google map links
should be at www.twitter.com/uwnepal

Ciao, Seth

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