4660 Metres Above the Sea

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We started at Tashi’s and walked to the Reringkha village proper, taking a path up to a Stupa and then veering off into an ethereal forest. The climb through the forest was at times steep but trees had mossy beards, pine needles were soft and leafy, and soon we were above the tree line. Tashi’s is situated at almost 3500m already, so it is not too far up before the trees yield to meadows. Perhaps the end was a bit premature as we crossed a small farmyard and had lunch at a little logging shed. The cloud that had been hanging in the morning was continually lifting as though we were pushing it with our efforts, the result being an increasingly beautiful backdrop and a sense of our altitude. Although the tops of the Himalayas were well and truly obscured, their bottoms still stood imposingly in the distance.

The forest gave way to indescribably beautiful alpine meadows absolutely covered in wildflowers of all shapes, sizes, and colours. The trail had ended and we bounces our way up the meadow, avoiding flowers as much as possible though it quite simply wasn’t possible. They were everywhere and the smell of honey filled the crisp mountain air. We made our way to the first summit, a green top with strewn rock among the flowers at 4500m, but saw another peak with more prayer flags atop it not too far away. The cloud continued to clear and revealed Dechin far below on our right and the Himalayas far away on our right. We were at the snow line (though there is no snow here for some reason) and scrambled yet further up a rather steep incline where we sat and admired the view at the top of the world. The Mingyong glacier was fully visible and all but the tops of the Himalayas were, too. I really wanted to get up as high as possible so we made our way up the rocky peak of the next highest summit and it was here that we were genuinely terrified.

We got as high as we could without climbing a broken rock face and looking down we knew that the slightest misstep was death. A very real sense of our height was suddenly perceptible and that, we decided, was as far as we were getting that day. Mary took out her altimeter and declared our height to be 4700 metres above sea level – about 14,000 feet! Cloud had started moving in a bit as we all held tightly to the rocks and we began our scramble back down. It took a long time to get down this steepest first part but the going got easier and we practically ran through the meadows once the danger was past, although my knees kept me to a fast lope. I really think we were blessed with our weather. Neither day did we have rain or fog – yes, it’s true we couldn’t see the mountain tops aside from the day of our arrival, but we still had great views – and now the cloud I’d feared was coming in seemed to disperse until we passed below. We returned to Tashi’s and I decided that yes, I will trek to Yebung village and stay a little longer than intended. It’s not everyday you can visit a Tibetan village that has only a solitary path over a 3900m mountain inaccessible by any modern form of transport.

Summit Hike Photos

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