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  • Jeff Fuchs

Kawa Karpo Sacred Mountain Trek – October-November 2011

The main peak of Kawa Karpo (Meili Snow Mountain) in northwestern Yunnan

“It is when the mountains sigh, that the world is tested”

Apologies as there has been little in the way of postings due to that ‘ever-clever’ issue of technology which has plagued me.

Some of the beautiful bulk of the east facing range

At present in preparation for a two-week expedition beginning October 24th, around Kawa Karpo with comrade in all things mountain related, Michael Kleinwort. An ideal time to go as northwestern Yunnan province as it will be dry, cold and clear. Michael and I are honoured that the route itself still exists in much the same way it has for centuries and that man hasn’t yet muscled roads and too much technology in. There are two routes: the inner kora (circumambulation) which takes less than a week, and the outer kora which takes about a dozen days depending on the weather, our quadriceps and of course how much impulsive wandering we do.

Dawn's warm light hits and sprays its rays

One of the Tibetan world’s most holy mountains and a vital confluence point along the great Tea Horse Road, Kawa Karpo (Meili Snow Mountain) stands as a geographic and cultural pillar spiraling 6,470 metres into the sky. One of the great mountain adventures, Kawa Karpo (White Pillar in Tibetan) sits along the northwestern Yunnan border with Tibet.

Within the rock and snow lie villages like this one of Lado (Hand of Stone) which lie along the old Tea Horse Road, which we will pass through

Never climbed, worshipped as a deity, the perpetually snow-clad mountain (and his equally stunning ‘wife’, Metsomo) are icons of the Buddhist world. Part trade route, part pilgrimage route and an ancient migration path into and out of the eastern most extension of the Himalayas, the meandering pathways of the circumambulation are fading testaments to a time of unending movement through the ancient kingdom of Jo (present day Deqin).

Beauty lies entwined with danger on the mountain's many faces

To circumambulate the grand range still is considered one of the sacred journeys a Tibetan can make in a lifetime, viewed as a feat that can wipe away the sins of a life; a two week odyssey that takes in ever-shifting altitudes from 1,800 meters to the great Shola Pass at 4,800 metres. It is at Shola Pass that our own team during the Tea Horse Road expedition of 2006 almost lost old friend and trek mate, Dakpa Kelden.

Exceptional for its extremes, my last experience on the 4,800 metre Shola pass reminded of the unpredictability of weather. Our group split into two and were encased in a blizzard in minutes.

Blizzards can strike eight months of the year and every Spring, the fallen bodies of unsuccessful travelers are discovered in the snows.

May and June can still see snow remnants along the pilgrimage route...we expect patches of snow

With the technology fates willing, I will be posting from the trek site itself…if not we will post after the journey.


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