Stage 8 was a big day in my book. It’s the biggest mountain day other than going over the pass. We woke up to snow falling from the gray sky.
I wasn’t happy about the snow, but I remembered the snowy days at home. Days where my roommate would look at me like I had 3 head saying, “you’re going to ride outside? But it’s so snowy and cold!” Today was just like one of those days, except we were going up to 15,000’. I decided from the start that I’d go a bit slower and make sure I took a few photos and videos. Today’s views were ones I wouldn’t want to miss, even with the snow. It turned out that the trail was only about 30% rideable with all the snow.
I ended up sharing most of the day with Thor. It was really fun. We were having beer free association therapy, yelling our favorite IPA names at the top of our lungs and bantering about how amazing the terrain was. We came up on a giant white yak together as well.
There was lots of walking through the snow and it was really cold.
I was glad to make it to Phedi. It was a completely different experience from last year. You can read last year’s Stage 8 report here. The trail and “town” were somber. The big kitchen had burned down. Phedi had no power or heat, and it was snowing like crazy at 15,000’.
A group of piled into one room and huddled to stay warm. It was actually one of the more memorable experiences of the trip. We were eating Pringles, drinking tea, and cracking tons of jokes for 4 hours. AND we were warm!
Snow not melting inside
We all huddled in a big tent for dinner that night. There were talks of neutralizing the stage due to potentially dangerous conditions with the snowstorm. Would there even be tracks in the snow to follow? We decided to “race” and start an hour later. Instead of 4 AM, we started at 5 AM.
I remembered last year. I was so scared to go over the pass. I didn’t know how I’d fare at 17,769’. My brakes also failed last year, and I had to walk for 7.5 hours. I pushed all doubt out of my mind and felt more confident that it’d be okay. I tried to talk with some of the people who were doing the pass for the first time, and going through similar fears and doubts that I had endured the year before.
I woke up to darkness and cold silence at 3:30 AM the next morning to carry my bike up to 17,769’/5416′ in the snow!