Posted on October 29, 2009 with 4 Comments
Hello! It’s been awhile–I was in China for a month and am just now getting around to putting up some pictures. The objective was to do a trek in the Yunnan Province, circumnavigating the Kawa Karpo range, and then travel to the Sichuan Province and attempt to climb and ski a peak called Reddomaine. We ended up cutting the trek short to spend more time on the mountain, which paid off as we had a successful ascent and descent of the 6112m peak. It was an incredible trip–you can read more about it on our blog, here: http://www.neverstopexploring.com/blog/shangri-la/. I can’t thank my teammates (Kasha Rigby, Giulia Monego, and Jimmy Chin) enough, I can’t imagine better people with whom to explore China. And a huge thank you to The North Face and everyone there for making it all happen. You’re the best!
So…my camera broke on about the 3rd day of the trip (a one-year old Canon G9–damn!), but luckily I had a trusty iPhone with me and managed to at least get some shots that will hopefully give you an idea of the beauty, culture, and rapid change and growth that is China today.
Kasha, approximately a half hour into our first day of the trek. The beauty of our surroundings was constantly stopping us cold in our tracks!
We hiked through huge river valleys, mostly in the rain–and camped at these wooden shelters covered by plastic tarps. Lots of elevation gain and loss–and it was just us and the Buddhist pilgrims, for whom this trek is a serious spiritual undertaking. They carry practically nothing save a bit of food, sometimes their babies on their backs, and some offerings for the gods.
Jimmy and Giulia arriving at our camp after the first day’s hike. This was typical of everywhere we went in China–you hike for a full day in what you think is the complete middle of nowhere, and suddenly you arrive at a convenience store, where you can always get Red Bull, cookies, Ramen noodles, and whatever else you might need.
Jimmy, arriving at the top of a 16,000ft pass that we crossed twice during our 5 day hike (it would have been 7 or 8 but we turned around after 3 to get more time on the mountain).
Shortly after we got to the top, these 12 or so women and girls arrived from the other direction. Some of the girls couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9, and they were all beautiful, smiley, and apparently barely affected by the fact that they just trotted up to the top of a huge pass.
Jimmy had a name for this type of weather phenomenon that we saw at the top of the pass–the Specter of the Brocken. The Tibetan women saw it as a Buddhist miracle. Regardless of what you call it, we were all in awe (I still am) over witnessing this moment.
Gorgeous Buddhist women praying at the top of the pass, observing the circular rainbow.
This pass was a seriously special and ethereal place, no matter what your religious beliefs are–we just couldn’t seem to leave. Kasha and Giulia, basking in the glory.
During the whole (albeit abbreviated) trek, we never once saw the Kawa Karpo peak–besides our half-hour at the pass, it mostly poured rain! It was only on the drive back to Lijiang that we were able to pull over on the side of the road and get this view–you can barely see the peak peeking out in the right half of the photo.
All sorts of tasty treats to be found! Here, Jimmy is about to dive into a package of whole chicken foot, and something called Acid Horn. Not really.
Back to the bustling metropolis of Chengdu–just one of over 100 cities in China that are home to more than a million people. Our man Li Ling in the front seat–he was a never ending source of entertainment, an excellent tour guide, and indispensable in helping us figure out logistics throughout the trip. Definitely if you’re planning a skiing, climbing, or trekking trip to Western China, contact Jon Otto at Blue Sheep Travel!
Shopping for food at a crazy Chengdu grocery store–Kasha and Giulia are stoked because we got lots of good food–Li is stoked because this task is done for the moment and he gets a mini break before the crazy western girls come up with the next errand to run!
Our visit coincided with the largest Chinese holiday of the year, and October 1, 2009 marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. This handsome guy was selling flags.
Chengdu, just like everywhere we went, was teeming with jaw-dropping amounts of construction, people, and skyscrapers. Constant sensory overload!
After a day spent re-grouping in Chengdu, we set out again towards Kanding and the Minya Konka range. We may have stopped to try this woman’s homemade kiwi wine along the way. (Extremely sweet, but tasty, in case you were wondering.)
Kasha, spending a quiet moment in a temple in Kanding, before a massive hot-pot dinner that included so many varieties of fresh, local, wild mushrooms that we lost count. And we were eating with a guy whose name translated to Mr. Bear. Just another surreal experience….
Kanding, Sichuan Province.
We spent the night just outside of Kanding at the horseman’s house, and the following morning loaded up 6 horses and set off for base camp.
Big hairy yaks, just taking a swim!
Our first glimpse of our objective, Reddomaine. Kasha’s friend told us that means “sharpening stone” in Tibetan; it’s a very aesthetic peak.
The horses dropped us off at THE BEST BASE CAMP EVER, and went back home, to eat hay or something…and we were on our own.
Alright, so Jimmy took this picture (this is right by our base camp)…but it WAS my phone, which has to count for something, right?
After several days of weather, resting at camp, and taking gear up a bit higher, we moved from our base camp at around 14,500ft to a high camp at 17,000ft. Snuggled head-to-foot in a 3-person tent, we enjoyed the view and the full moon.
I don’t have many pictures of the climb or ski at all–because the weather was crappy and also because we were moving almost constantly for 15 hours. This is the top, though–me, Jimmy, Giulia–and the view, which wasn’t much at all. About to click in–stoked!!
The view on the descent back towards base camp–not a bad place to hang out for a few weeks.
And the panoramic shot–you can just barely make out our little yellow tents….right here^^.
Kasha and Jimmy, making some celebratory bacon and eggs back at camp!
Giulia, perpetually stoked! What a great team–always positive and up for anything.
One last look at the peak before we left–naturally the sun came out on the morning we were hiking out of base camp. But it only came out for a little bit, which made us feel better.
That’s probably way more than enough pictures for now; sorry if I’ve overwhelmed you! I’ll put some more up soon….thanks for looking.