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Snowman Trek, Bhutan

September/October 2009 - A remote and beautiful trek through the whole northwestern area of the Land of the Thunder Dragon, across 10 high passes including 5326m Rinchen Zoe La, and many different villages, climate zones and log bridges.

Snowman Trek


Paro - Bhutan's second town and its whitewashed fortress-like Dzong
Drugyel to Shana - Passing through red rice fields set in rolling pine-forested hillsides
Shana to Thangthangka - Very muddy trail through thick, gloomy forest of pine, fir, birch and oak
Thangthangka to Jangothang - Up valley of green, grassy hillsides just above the treeline
Jangothang Ri - Misty scramble up small rock peak above campsite, profuse with blue sheep and strange wild flowers
Jangothang to Lingshi - Crossing a bare scree pass into a damp green moorland valley
Lingshi to Chebisa - First sunny day; hilltop dzong; two mediaeval villages and rolling green landscape
Chebisa to Yarila Chhu - Contouring around lush juniper-clad hillsides
Yarila Chhu to Robluthang - Crossing a high moorland pass into pleasant yak meadows
Robluthang to Limithang - Up a moorland valley and over a bleak, windswept pass
Limithang to Laya - Through a pine forested valley on a path climbing high above
Laya Village - Elaborately carved and painted traditional houses; unusual pointed bamboo hats
Laya to Take Hankhar Army Camp - Down juniper forest trail to wide green yak pasture
Take Hankhar Army Camp to Rodophu - High path above pine-forested valley to wide flat mountain valley
Rodophu to Narethang - Ascending two pleasant hanging valleys to a pass; crossing a high altitude plateau
Narethang to Tarina - Up to dry glacial plateau; over a pass; down into alpine forested valley
Tarina to Tega - Two wooded alpine valleys; traditional village; two high combes with lakes on way to moorland pass
Tega to Chozo - Down wooded hillside and along wide boulder-strewn riverbed deep into Lunana region
Chozo Ri - Along a magnificent grassy ridge with views of wide glacier, Table Mountain and Tibetan border area
Chozo to Tsho Chena - Up to a high pass and across a bleak, lake-laden plateau
Tsho Chena to Jichu Dramo - Across a barren high altitude plateau over a series of rocky hillsides and passes
Jichu Dramo to Tsho Tshang - Crossing a highland plateau of many-coloured lakes, snow peaks and boulders
Tsho Tshang to Thampe Tsho - Down colourful valley and up through cloud forest; world's most unpleasant campsite
Thampe Tsho to Maurothang - Over a wet, misty pass; descent past lakes in rain; entering jungle
Maurothang to Nikka Chhu - Record rainfall in long, soggy descent through pine, rhododendron and bamboo jungle
Thimphu - Archery, traffic police, pilgrims, dzongs and strange goat-faced animals in Bhutan's capital
The Tiger's Nest - Bhutan's most famous monastery, perched spectacularly on a cliff ledge high above the Paro valley


Yakking with the Thunder Dragon
Yakking with the Thunder Dragon
Walking Bhutan's epic Snowman Trek


Trekking the Paro Valley
Trekking the Paro Valley - Drugyel to Jangothang. Trekking from Drugyel Dzong, up the forested Paro Valley to Jangothang, across many bridges and stepping stones. (4:45)
Portable Altitude Chamber
Portable Altitude Chamber - Kipchu and Dr Ken put Brigitte inside a Gamow bag at Jangothang campsite. (2:29)
A study in phallic rhubarb
A study in phallic rhubarb - Jangothang Ri. Misty scramble up a small rock peak above Jhomolhari Base Camp, profuse with blue sheep and weird Rheum Nobile plants, otherwise known as Penis Rhubarb. (7:01)
Tents, dzongs and blue sheep
Tents, dzongs and blue sheep - Jangothang to Shakyapasang. Leaving Jhomalhari Base Camp, to cross the stark Nyile La pass. Two campsites at Lingshi and Chebisa, the fortress-like Lingshi Dzong, more blue sheep and another log bridge. (4:38)
Across log bridges and high passes
Across log bridges and high passes - Yarila Chhu to Limithang. Decamping from a narrow valley and up over two more passes - the pleasant moorland scenery of the Jare La with views of snowcapped Jichu Drake, and the rocky, windswept Sinche La as snow falls. Oh, and another log bridge. (7:16)
Scenes of village life, Laya
Scenes of village life, Laya - Scenes from a remote village in the far north of Bhutan, many days' walk from the nearest road. Traditional houses and rice terraces, dancing round the camp fire, children dressed in ghos playing football, stray dogs, and special pointed bamboo hats. (5:16)
Excitable pack animals
Excitable pack animals - Laya Army Camp to Rodophu. Campsite preparations, changing transport from horses to yaks, ascending through pine forest, grass cutting halfway up a cliff, Kevin's diary, yaks on the trail, and arrival on a high mountain plateau. (6:12)
How to escape a yeti (male or female)
How to escape a yeti (male or female) - Rodophu to Narethang. Ascending two pleasant hanging valleys to a moorland pass, Lhab Tshering's Bhutanese safe sex message, strategies for escaping a yeti (male or female), and a snowstorm on a high plateau. (6:18)
Singing yak men
Singing yak men - Narethang to Tarina. Singing yak drivers cross a barren rocky pass in the high Himalayas while looking out upon tall snow mountains and sparkling turquoise lakes. (3:55)
Yak Wars
Yak Wars - While walking from the pleasant Pho Chhu valley up to the moorland pass of Kesha La, Mort the Matador discovers to his horror that - though usually shy and docile animals - yaks can be somewhat volatile and prone to temper tantrums. (9:42)
Breakfast on Table Mountain
Breakfast on Table Mountain - Lhedi to Chozo. Kids playing at the school in Lhedi, more yaks on the trail, the village of Chozo and its superb riverside setting surrounded by mountains, villagers trading, al fresco breakfast, the remarkable Table Mountain, and a musical goodbye. (8:04)
Some place to propose to your girlfriend!
Some place to propose to your girlfriend! - Chozo to Tsho Tshang. The highlands of Bhutan. While crossing three rocky passes on this bleak, cold and windswept high altitude plateau, Leigh is intoxicated by the romantic location and proposes to Kim. (7:44)
The worst campsite in the world
The worst campsite in the world - Tsho Tshang to Nikka Chhu. By some margin the most disgustingly filthy campsite I've ever stayed in, set in arguably one of the most beautiful locations. And if that wasn't enough, it pours with rain for three days! (4:35)
Thimphu - A brief tour of the main tourist attractions in and around one of the world's most unusual capital cities. (7:58)

[Snowman Trek]

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